Tuesday, November 10, 2015

To our friends, who won't let us go

To our friends, who won't let us go,

I remember my good-bye with each and every one of you.  I remember the tears in our driveway, and the ones on my parent's porch.  Yours, of course.  Mine I kept inside, where they were safe.  Where they couldn't threaten to burst, and never ever stop.

I remember the awkward see-you-soon's, and the hugs that were both too long and too short.  

I remember the support and the confusion and the general unease.   

I remember walking away and busying myself immediately.  Doing whatever I could not to think or feel.  I know repression isn't the best way, but the feelings of those days were so strong that they effectively numbed me.  Perhaps you noticed.

I missed you so intensely those first few months it was physically painful at times.  Some of you I was seeing ever day.  Some every few months.  A handful once a year or so.  But I missed you all.  I missed your unconditional love and and your easy conversation and your knowing me.  Your really knowing me.  And my knowing you.  I missed the understanding that you would do anything for me, at a moment's notice.  I missed that in the years you knew me I was so many people, and also just one, and that you saw the real me.  Sometimes, in those first few months, I wasn't sure who the real me was, or if I liked her all that much.  But I knew you did.  And so, even from a distance, you carried me.

Our first Christmas home was rushed and surreal.  I was so happy to see you, but I couldn't reconcile my two worlds.  Not yet.  I wanted you to know my new world, to see it through my eyes, but I couldn't figure out where to start and so I didn't.  It stood, instead, as a vague distance between us.  And yet your presence calmed my heart.  It grounded me.  I returned to Budapest both more content and more heartbroken.

When I wasn't missing you I was panicking about you, a bit.  I watched your lives go on, and happily at that.  I wondered if there would still be room for me after one more year.  A year is a long time, after all.

The start of our second year was probably my hardest.  I didn't know where I belonged, and I wasn't so sure I had the time or desire to figure it out.  You were so important to me then.  Maybe you didn't know, but I needed you then more than ever.  You were my place, my belonging, even an ocean away.

It got easier from there.  Slowly.  I let myself love people here.  Ones who weren't you.  And I let them love me.  I opened up and I let myself get hurt when it was time to say good-bye.  I felt the emptiness of the space they filled, and I waited, sometimes months, for the pain to pass.

Some are still here, reminding me what it's like to be loved for me.  No strings attached. I'm lucky, I know, even with more good-byes looming in my future.

And I know now that my fears were silly.  Because there's always room.  Always.  It's a space that can't be taken by anyone else.  It's a space that's yours.  And yours alone.

I wish I could spend days, weeks, months with each and every one of you.  I really do.  Instead it's a few moments here and there, and sometimes our trip home carries on faster than we could ever expect and before we know it's over and some of you, ones who we love very much, we don't get to see at all.  And still the love remains.  After nearly five years.  With an entire ocean between us.

I didn't really understand the deep roots of these friendships until we left.  Until time and distance were no longer the things that held us together.   Until all that was left were separate people whose lives no longer overlapped.   It was only then that I realized we were linked to each other.  Not by the ability to pop over to each other's houses or help watch each other's kids, but by fits of uncontrollable laughter, and ones of uncontrollable tears, by the children we loved from their earliest days, whether from near or far, by high school football games and college dorms and the messy living rooms of new motherhood.

And so I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm thankful.  So thankful.  Because family, while family is a whole other post and a whole other realm of gratefulness, family mostly has to show up.  They mostly have to put up with the hard fact we live so far away and see them much less than either of us wants.  But I'm learning, more than ever, that friends have a choice.  It's hard to open yourself up to someone you know will soon leave.  Really hard.  But you still do.  You open your homes and your hearts and your lives, even when another good-bye awaits.

It's not perfect, of course, because we're not.  We've messed up and will continue to, but somehow that's not the point.  The point is that, whether near or far, we're doing life together.  The moments are few and far between, but the joy of watching our rapidly growing kids play together in the sunshine, of reminiscing, of laughing and sharing, those moments are burned into my memory.  They'll hold me for another year, easy.  Even longer if need be.  And all the while I'll know you're just a message or phone call away.  Waiting.  Holding our space.

I used to say my friends spoiled me.  That is was too hard to replace you, and so I just didn't.  But really you didn't.  You just showed me what could be.  You taught me that it's better to share life than to go it alone.

The good-bye's are always hard.  Always.   But when we leave now it's with a warmth in my heart and although it's sad it's never as sad as the first time.  Because even when we leave, I know what remains.


  1. Love you and my heart will always have a townhouse for you to fill! ♡