As the final preparations are being made for my trip to Colorado, I find myself thinking about all the things I’ll be leaving behind: my sister, my son, my cat, and the network of great friends I’ve made over the last few years. My sister’s taking care of my cat, Holly, until I can reclaim her. I’ll definitely miss spending time with Karen, but knowing that we plan to be in the same city again one day and that I’ll be reuniting with her and my kitty eventually eases that separation anxiety a bit. However, it’s been hard enough trying to schedule visits with my son who just lives on the other side of the Puget Sound. How will having a few states between us affect our visits? And how will I stay in touch with all of my friends?
With each move, I’ve had to say good-bye to dear friends, but swore I’d stay in touch. I kept my word for the most part, but contact gradually lessened until we rarely exchanged email or phone calls except on the occasional holiday. Does that mean that I never think about them or that I don’t like them anymore or that we’re no longer friends? No. Reality sets in and everyone’s daily life takes over, sometimes making it impossible to maintain regular, meaningful communication. Email becomes links to funny websites or interesting articles rather than updates about kids and how we hate our jobs.
It seems that maintaining communication between friends is a lot like the real estate market: it’s all about location, location, location. The closer in proximity you are to someone, the more likely you are to communicate. Granted, there are always exceptions to this rule, but knowing that distance will probably widen the gap in friendships more likely than not makes it difficult to leave behind all the people I’ve met. I want to pack them up and take them with me.
Fortunately, there’s a little thing called Facebook. We’re already using it to “talk” with our friends and even use it for making new “friends.” Remembering this eased my mind somewhat. We’re already sharing information and commenting on each others’ status, wishing each other happy birthday, and viewing each others’ photos. Why would moving away change that?
As my departure draws closer; however, I’ve noticed an interesting phenomenon. Instead of hoping to squeeze in one last visit with me, it seems like everyone is acting as though I’m already gone. Life has moved on. Even the Facebook participation seems to have moved on without me. It’s as though my friends figure that my mind’s already focused on the adventure that awaits me in Durango so they’ve cut the cord to let me go. Instead, I’m really floundering in the what-to-pack dilemmas and dwelling on everyone and everything I’m going to miss; I haven’t given much thought to what I’m going to do once I get there. This is all probably quite normal.
Perhaps I shouldn’t worry about what’s going on around me and remain focused on my future, but my future would be very different if I had met different people or made other choices. What I’m leaving behind helped build the road to what lies ahead. I can’t leave without acknowledging that and to say that I’m not going to think about it at all would be a lie. The solution then is not to think of what I’m leaving behind as a loss and dwell on it as such, but rather to embrace it as a gift.
My friends have supported me and encouraged me. They are happy for the direction my life seems to be taking. I know this. They should also know that I value their friendship and will treasure it always, no matter where I’m living or what I’m doing. And to all those friends with whom I’ve completely lost touch over the years, I still think of you. I may not know where you are or what you’re doing, but you’ll always have a place in my heart.
So this isn’t, “Hasta la vista, Baby!” When the time comes, instead of saying, “Goodbye,” my friends will probably hear me say something more like, “Later, Gator.”