A few years ago, prior to graduating from university, I was talking about my desire to live and teach abroad. A person sitting within the group stated, “You’re leaving us?!” I stared blankly at this person I barely knew. This person (who I had hung out with maybe three times) was a roommate of the person I actually knew. I remember tilting my head to the side and looking quizzical while stating a questionable, “Ummmm… yes?” Like, what the hell did this “rando" care what I did with my life? I had no problem leaving them.
Fast forward to a different conversation with a different person, regarding my relocation to Michigan after my temporary 3 month respite in D.C. This person said to me, “You just don’t know how to settle down.” To which I replied, “You’ve known me 6 years and I lived in the same house for 4, until I relocated abroad. YOU’RE the one who moves (literally) every 6 months.” This person’s response gave me pause when they said, “Huh. I guess it just always felt like you had one foot out the door.” OUCH. At the time I didn’t really understand what that person meant.
Despite serious contemplation about staying in Michigan long term, I eventually returned to my cozy, 900 sq ft home in the Pacific Northwest. I had already found a job that I loved and decided it best to burrow into the town I had left behind a few years prior. But still, I’m a bit untethered. The town I currently live in, is not the town/state I attended high school. The state that I attended high school, is not the state where I grew up. I’ve never known ONE place. Honestly, I catch myself looking at jobs abroad and I wonder where I will be 5 years from now when my current job winds down. Where will I want to go? I never stopped to think that maybe other people want to leave too.
A close friend of mine texted me recently to mention they had seen someone I used to know at the grocery store. In a crowded grocery store, there they were. Apparently buying frozen pizzas and looking every bit the way they always had. My stomach lurched at the news which surprised me. It had been so long and yet… my first thought was, “Thank God I wasn’t there!” I would have immediately turned and left the store. (*le sigh* Duly noted: I’m still a “runner” after all this time.)
Of course I did what anyone in my position would do upon learning this information… and cringed at myself while I looked them up on Facebook. And to my surprise, they were moving. Not to a different house within the area but, straight up, sold their house and moved to a different town all together.
Uhhhh… WHAT. THE. FUCK.
Is that even allowed to happen?! Things that you take for granted can shift from underneath your feet without you knowing?! That’s a real thing?! (Of COURSE it is. It’s practically the foundation of my life.)
So someone I don’t even know anymore, moved away. Who the hell am I to feel anything about it? I no longer know this person; they don’t owe me anything. Their life is moving forward just as mine had when I moved out of the GODDAMN COUNTRY… so, why did I feel weird about this person moving away?
Maybe it was the realization that a closed chapter of my life was still someone else’s continuing story. Maybe it was a sadness of knowing the end (which was a spectacular, personal failure of mine) could so easily be burned away as if it never existed. Maybe it was just the embarrassment of knowing I assumed things wouldn’t change for other people (cuz I’m a narcissistic asshole sometimes). Most likely, it was all of the above.
And then… a few days later… one of my best friends sat me down and told me they were 90% sure they were moving away… *whisper* to a different state and SOON. This is someone I text pretty much every single day; someone I see every week.
Seriously. WHAT. THE. FUCK.
And I didn’t. Not right then anyway. Of course I wanted to and of course I eventually did (sitting in my car, in my driveway of all places).
In front of my friend though, I said what the rational part of me understood. Should everything align for them, it would be an amazing opportunity. Obviously I want every happiness for my friend. I don’t want fear of the unknown or sadness of leaving loved ones to dictate choices for their future. I want them to hear the positive support and aspect of living somewhere new. It’s something I grappled with before moving abroad. I’ve experienced the push and pull of routine life versus uncertain life. Of all people, this friend would know.
This friend, arrived at my house pretty much the night before I moved abroad to help box and clean. This friend, also brought laundry detergent pods with her because I was having a melt down about laundry (of all things). This friend has listened to me sob uncontrollably and laugh deliriously, respects/knows not to hug me when I’m emotionally raw and always made me vegan hot chocolate in the winter. This true friend (my lil’ mama) is about to embark on a new chapter in life and despite my utter sadness, I want so badly for this adventure to happen for them.
A few frozen pizza purchases and a simple (public) Facebook post about moving away, exposed me to the fact that people’s lives continue… whether I’m around or not. It’s as if life gave me a quick adrenaline shot of “reality” to help prepare me for what was really coming. Where I was once the person leaving, I’m now mentality preparing for someone else (that I love dearly)… to leave.
Touché Life. You’ve won this round. Now back off for a beat while I go eat some happy, rainbow sprinkle vegan ice cream.