Tuesday, October 11, 2011

No longer home

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I was in back in Chicago last week on business for a few days, but extended my stay to catch up with family and friends as we are going to celebrate Christmas with E's family in California this year.

Going "home" (I can hardly call it that anymore) has gotten weirder over the last two and a half years. I try to be realistic and not expect everyone and everything to be the same, but there's always an acute awareness that people have grown up, gotten older, and are moving into different stages in life (I'm the only girl from my former church who married in the last three years and doesn't already have at least one kid). Each time I'm reminded how relationships can dissolve unintentionally without the maintenance of weekly visits or chats, running into each other at family gatherings and church activities and in normal life.

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I know its impossible to maintain all the relationships I had when I lived there. In a way it's probably abnormal that I've tried to keep up so many. My usual visits back home are packed to the brim with visits - coffee with a college friend, lunch with a childhood friend. Stopping by my old office to say hello to former coworkers, and dinner with yet another branch of my extended family.

This year I attempted to make make it less widely known that I was coming back, to be able to limit my visits a little more (It hasn't seemed to work for me yet). There are always people who surprise me with their interest in getting together, and others that force me to acknowledge we've moved on in our relationship.

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It's easy for me to say that I don't miss back home, and for the most part that's true - . I love living in California. I love that E and I have had the opportunity to grow our marriage outside of the comfort and influence of my old circles of friends and family. I think its been healthy. But when I do go back I have to acknowledge that I'm a little sad about what I left behind. It's not just because I miss people and my former life, but because it won't ever be the same as it was. Visiting doesn't bring it back. It just serves as a reminder of what I don't and won't ever have.

So next time I visit my hometown, I won't be looking up every old friend, extended family member, coworker or mentor. I think I'll be content to remember that there are people who played a special role in my life at a specific time, and be grateful for it. And maybe it will be help me to be more present where I am, looking forward to where we'll go next. (a story for another day...)

I would love to hear from you guys who have moved away from home. What do you miss and what have you learned?

8 comments:

melinda said...

I had a friend who used to not tell people she was visiting home and I felt left out when I found out after she came. But now that it's me, and I'm the one not telling everyone, I understand. My family obviously wants to see me a lot and I have to be really intentional about how to spend my other time.

Meredith said...

I have moved a lot in my life and while I'm an outgoing person that can handle change, finding a new life somewhere, making new friends, etc. - the hardest part definitely is recognizing that all relationships can't be maintained and having to compartmentalize people into "Ohio friends, Iowa friends, tour friends, etc." I sometimes wish I had lived in the same place forever - then I would have that "core" group of friends who were always there through it all. But that's not the life I was given - and I've learned to value the many experiences and people who I've had the blessing to know for however long each stay lasted.

And I agree with you and Melinda - it's hard to see EVERYone on every trip. I slowly but surely stopped telling people I'd be in town as to make the trip be focused on the task at hand - usually seeing family.

MsGarlic said...

I agree with this feeling. What is weird for me though is that I made a new friend on a study abroad program in London who lives near my parents' house in MI. I visit my high school friends and my family and my new friend I met in London and I can't believe how much more fun I have with this new friend than everyone else. It is because our friendship is based on current interests and not a connection shared long ago. This makes me realize how if I live there I may not even hang out with the same people. You may have grown apart from them even if you lived there. That was an interesting discovery for me. Anyway, the way you feel is normal. I haven't lived in my home state for 6 and a half years and my mom still acts like the world is going to end if I miss a baby shower or retirement luncheon.

Jessica Lynn said...

Moving away is hard, and going back to visit is even harder. The last time we went back (which was for different circumstances), we had a going away party and I told everyone that if they wanted to see me, they could go to the party. It shocked me with how many people sill asked if we could get lunch or do dinner. NO! My time there is precious and while I appreciate that they want to see me, it's hard trying to accommodate everyone. In the past (few years) I try getting together with large groups. It sucks, because I don't get that personal time with my friends or family, but when you're only in town for a weekend, that's what you have to do!

Lindsey said...

You said it right. Not only have I moved via military, but I also haven't lived in the town...so when I go "home" my trips are always packed with seeing friends and family because I don't visit that much. But there is something to be said about friends and people in your life for a season too. And moving away with my husband was probably the best and healthiest thing we did--even though it wasn't voluntary. It helped us establish our family together.

Sara said...

What a beautifully written and thoughtful post. I agree with so much of what you said about moving away and moving on. I always have a hard time going back "home" too, the change is sad but I'm happy to be in the place I am in my life now. It made me who I am, but doesn't define me.

beka said...

I know what you mean. It's hard not to feel wistful and sad sometimes. For me, I have a really hard time seeing how areas of the farmland or parts of the city get old, aren't maintained, or get a little worse for wear. Because it's not the way I remember it being anymore. And old friendships are kinda like that too. I was an "old maid" to the people in my hometown when I got married... at the ripe old age of 22! Now everyone has multiple kids and are celebrating their 5 year anniversaries. It's a reminder that sometimes friendships exist precisely because you're in the same stage of life together - and then when you no longer have that in common, it's hard to figure out what else you share.

Anna said...

Katie. Yes. Agreed.

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