Monday, March 25, 2013

on moving forward.

{photo by El Hogan}


A part ii, of sorts, to this post.

When I was 12 years old, my best friend moved away. 

It's really a crappy time to lose your best friend, if you think about it. We were just starting middle school, about to embark on the adventure that is adolescence and puberty and growing up. And sometimes I think it's a good thing my friend moved, because chances are, we would have grown apart anyway, like most friends do around that age. But that realization came much later, and in the days leading up to her move, there were lots and lots of tears and one dramatic rendition of "I Will Always Love You" (caught on parents' videotape somewhere, I'm sure). 

My friend moved, and we didn't keep in touch, because when you're 12, there is school. There are piano lessons and basketball teams and lots of other friends to fill the void. I look back, though, and I see that my friend's move made a difference. When she left, I grew closer to my school friends. I became involved in my school and in academics and in teams and in friendships there, and isn't it funny, I never really saw what the missing link was. I just figured I had more in common with people at school than people at church (true); it turns out, though, the friendships of my teenage years were very much influenced by that best friend leaving when I was 12. 

Now I am 27, and I have fought long and hard for community here, in this same town, at the same church, as an adult. It has not been easy -- at times, downright painful -- but I have fought for happiness, and I have found it. Jordan and I love our home. We appreciate our church. And there are blessings that abound when you live near family. 


Tallahassee is a transient town. Its proximity to three major universities means people come here to earn their advanced degrees, and they leave. It ebbs and flows to the rhythms of state government, so people come and go based on governors and administrations and jobs they keep and lose. 

Since I moved back here five years ago, I have gained friends and lost them. I've watched friends leave to pursue new job opportunities and more education. I've lost my brother and my cousin to universities in other cities. Last year, two of my dear friends moved to Chicago and Nashville; the year before that, another close friend left for her husband's new job opportunity in Houston. Each time, I've tried to handle it with grace, to be excited for new opportunities and fresh starts, both for them and for me. 

I've managed to handle it well due in part to the distraction of life here. I have a husband, and I have other friends. I have a book club and a job. My life is full, and when friends leave, I am sad, but the void eventually fills. 

This time feels different. Now not one set of friends, but two sets are leaving. They are leaving quickly, and even Jordan is concerned, because these aren't acquaintances we see once a month or in passing at the grocery store. These are the people we have built that ever-elusive community with. I have thrown baby showers and birthday parties; they have celebrated and mourned with us. And as we watch both of these families leave for new adventures, we are feeling left behind, but we are also feeling a little lost. 

I have read book after book on adult friendship. I know what it takes, and I know how hard it can be to form these bonds of best-friendship. As an introvert, I know the task is even more difficult. I want kindred spirits, not shallow friendships, and when I find them, I really hate letting them go. (It's why I have a slew of long distance friends who I'm less than stellar at keeping in touch with.) 

But what do you do when you've exhausted your possibilities? What do you do when literally all of your kindred spirits leave, and you're left at square one?

It's been a long time since I've been faced with that alternative -- maybe since I was a 12 year old little girl singing Dolly Parton to my best friend. When other friends have moved, I've had more to fall back on. I've had a built-in support system ready to fill the void. 

This time, that support system isn't there, and I'm not sure how to rebuild. I don't know where else to meet people. I am quiet, and it takes me a little while to warm up, and that doesn't bode well in a city where everyone has built-in support or plans to move as soon as they have their degrees. 

We're big believers in living one day at a time over here, so I imagine there are still plenty of double dates, birthday dinners, and movie nights in our future before our friends fly the coop. And when they do, we'll certainly send them off in style. It's the after-the-fact Jordan and I are a little worried about. It turns out, the life changes you face when you're 12 are just preparation for the even bigger changes you'll face when you're older and (hopefully) wiser. 

Life changes are around the horizon for our friends, and that means they're on the horizon for us too. 

May we march forward with grace.


Sabrina said...

This is a hard one. I feel your pain in a small way. I too was very worried when Jenn & Todd and others left Tally. They were my last link to the "college days". However, God blessed me with your friendship just as I was wondering what was going to happen. He will be faithful again, it might be a little rough and lonely at times. But it will work out!

michelle marie said...

First time commenter here - just wanted to drop a line because I can totally relate to this. I moved to Pensacola almost a year ago and it was a really difficult adjustment. Before moving here, I lived at college, and then in DC near a lot of my college friends. I got married shortly before moving here, but other than my husband Jeff, I didn't know a soul in Pensacola. After almost a year, we've made some friends that we can have dinners with and go downtown with, but I still haven't been able to find any close girlfriends. Sometimes you just want a friend for a glass of wine and a movie on the couch, you know? I'm worried because since Jeff is in the Coast Guard, we'll be moving a lot, and the cycle will start over every single time we move. I wish making friends in adulthood was as easy as making friends during our school years. Sigh.

Anyways, I'm not really sure what else to say, since I can't really offer any words of wisdom. But I guess I just was glad to see that I'm not alone in feeling this way, and the knowledge that life continues to march on is somewhat comforting. :)

Anonymous said...

You're in my heart and prayers during this transition friend! I wish we lived closer, as always. : )