Sunday, April 18, 2010

Left Behind

My brick and mortar peeps will all tell you that I have a policy, known far and wide, about becoming your friend. It goes like this: if you live in Tiny Town, and you are thinking about moving, I need a three year notice.

If you're not planning on being here for more than three years, you need to tell me ASAP. I need time to detach myself emotionally, and to replace you in my life. Upon receiving your three year notice, I will start the process of Pulling Away from you, so that by the time you actually move, there will be nary a glint of a tear in my eye.

I know that most folks living in any kind of suburban/metropolis deal with people coming and going all the time. But you see, therein lies the difference: COMING and going.

[Cool] People don't come to Tiny Town nearly as often as [cool] people leave Tiny Town.

One of the hardest times in my adult life was right after we found out our very good friends were moving. I grieved them going- am still grieving it in some ways- and it's been almost 4 years.

With them gone, I felt adrift, floating no where, lost. She was the first friend I had as a mom- we became friends as we became mothers, meeting when we were both pregnant with our first daughters. We were raising our kids together, spending holidays together.

In the intervening 4 years, I've seen beautiful results emerge from the mess of them leaving. I've met many more awesome people. I've gone from hating living here- and clinging to them as my life raft- to having lots of friends and loving it here. And if I'm being honest with my self, many of those changes probably wouldn't have happened if they hadn't moved.

But now, here I am again. Watching as another family- people we are very close to- is contemplating a move, applying for jobs, testing those waters. And it suddenly hit me the other day: this kind of thing is going to keep happening to me.

All joking about "3 year notices" aside, I AM going to be left behind, over and over again. People are going to move here, and we are going to fall in love with them, and then they are going to move away.

I'm not willing to actually live my life so guarded as to not let "Possible Movers" into my life.

But it still really sucks.

I want all of our friends to send their kids to high school here, to be on the Prom Committee with me, for all of us to grow old together, smoking weed on the porch long after our kids leave the house.

I want this great community that we've created/found to remain intact; for our kids to grow up together. Since my husband owns a business here, we are likely to be here for the long haul. Is it so much to ask that every one else is, too?

So I'm wondering, how do you guys deal with people coming and GOING from your life?


Kristin.... said...

This is a great post. I am not good with people going from my life. When we moved 3 1/2 years ago, people just stopped being a part of our lives. We only moved 20 minutes away from our friends, but it was enough that "out of sight, out of mind" applied. We have new friends here, but it's different. And it's sad.
I am a "heart on my sleeve" kind of person so I don't take well to people just dropping out of my life, people that I've spent so much time with.

Jess said...

I really don't know. It makes me very upset. I try to stay in touch via email and photos and whatnot, but it's just not the same. It is hard for me to comprehend that our neighborhood will not always be exactly like it is now.

Anonymous said...

I've never commented here before, but this post struck a chord with me. I live in a small southern town. My husband has a really great job here. His parents live 10 miles away in another small town. We met here, fell in love here, had our babies here. We're NOT moving. When we got married, there were 5 other couples in our church the same age as us, married about the same time. It was bliss. We had so much fun together. In 2 weeks the last couple in our group will move away. It feels so lonely. I know we will move on and make new friends. But I miss the old ones. I love my little town and I love my life. I know that we are so blessed in so many ways, but I'm not going to lie. Being left behind totally sucks.

Anonymous said...

I'm usually the mover, not the movee. I think b/c of this, I tend not to get as close to people, which is not to say I don't have good friends, but I know it will probably only be for a few years.

Which leads me to ask - do you think you will always be residents of Tiny Town? Do you ever see yourself being the mover?

Emily said...

Oh, this is a heart-string issue for me, too! I feel pretty strongly that we'll be here for the long haul, unless something crazy happens, but whenever a friend starts to talk about moving, I want to scream, "NO!! Stay here FOREVER!!" I think it's one of the sad realities of our society today, everyone is so mobile, it makes it hard to have long-term community. I miss Mayberry.

Marie Green said...

Just to clarify a few things: I am a GREAT friend to have if you move. I'll call, email, plan trips to visit you, host you when you come back to town etc. I just HATE that we can't be part of each other's daily community.

Also, Shelley- since my husband owns a business here, we are likely here for a long time. It's not impossible that he'd sell and we'd move... but far less likely than other job scenarios.

Marie Green said...

Emily- I miss Mayberry too! My grandma always says that I grew up watching Little House on the Prairie/ Leave it to Beaver and that's why I have such old fashioned (and idyllic) values. But things were so simple then! I think everyone should have a front porch and neighborhood kids should run in packs and... and... you get the idea!

d e v a n said...

Man - I hate it when this happens. :(

Rebecca said...

Well, my husband is in the military, so we know coming into a community that we will have to move within 2-3 years, leaving our friends. Unfortunately, many of our friends leave US, too, while we are there. It's tough, because I am a "get rooted in a community" sort of person. (I'm a midwestern gal, and I think that explains it all.) I like to have my church, my knitting shop, my grocery store, my places and my people.

So...I just dive in. I try to meet as many people as possible and figure out which of them I will "click" with. (Not all, unfortunately, but it is surprising how many different people I can like, given the opportunity.) It usually takes at least 6-8 months to feel like I am "home," which is frustrating, but worth it. (Otherwise, I go the full three years without roots, only to move again.) It's easier now that I have a child, because moms kind of create their own communities spontaneously.

Also, there is a certain charm in living a variety of "lives." It's like you get a chance to try on different options before you have to pick The One. And I have found the beauty in that. It doesn't hurt, though, that my husband will retire in about 2 years, thus giving us a chance to settle down semi-permanently.

Anonymous said...

A lot of hugs for you! Wasn't life so much easier when we were younger? I always just trusted and knew that my friends were there until graduation, so we knew we had each other until then. Now as an adult people come in and out of my is much harder to make friends and then to even be as good as a friend as I was ten years ago.

Grateful Twin Mom said...

This post really spoke to me, for sure. I, too, live in a small town and moved here specifically for the community. But I'm finding out, as a late-comer, most of the people here have lived here all their lives. They are having a hard time letting me in. And the worst part is that I'm waiting for my kids to make close friends and hoping that I can tag onto that relationship if they have cool parents. How crazy is that? I guess I have to do like one of your commenters said: dive in. I have to put myself out there.

Hope you get some STAYERs soon.

Marie Green said...

Grateful Twin Mom- I was trying to fit in with the "locals" too, when I first lived here. I didn't click with them though, not really, although I tried. I WAS hard for them to let me in. Luckily for me, the people I hang out with now are ALL transplants, like myself. We have much more in common than the folks that have lived here their whole lives.

-R- said...

One of my friends has moved around a lot - she has lived in 5 places in the last 10 years. She is really good at staying in touch with people; I honestly don't know how she does it.

It's hard when people move away, and it's hard to make friends. I don't have any answers for you, just commiseration.

Lawyerish said...

New York City is a very transient place, so I have had loads of friends move away from here over the years. It was sad every time, but I guess I just sort of got used to it.

This sounds lame, but Facebook and email have been key to keeping in touch, but it's so not the same as having people around locally. I now have just a very few friends here, but they are really great friends and I would be SO SAD if any of them left.

It's funny, moving or having other people move away is one of those things that doesn't get any easier as an adult. Sigh.

designHER Momma said...

tiny town sounds alot like big city life. What can't we all just chill out and find community with each other? I hate it when people leave!

Marie Green said...

Lawyerish, I KNOW, facebook has been a lifesaver! I'm really good at keeping in touch with people (I'm very loyal by nature, which is also why I take it so hard when people move, I think). The plus side of our current culture is that technology makes it so easy to stay connected. The minus side is that it also makes it easy for people to up and move.

For me, it's just not the same as having them part of our day-to-day community. I so want my kids to have a sense of belonging to a greater community...

And as several of you pointed out, being the MOVER is definitely harder. I would not be well suited for a military lifestyle, I'm afraid.

clueless but hopeful mama said...

Been thinking about this post for a while but didn't comment b/c it would be a novel. Will try to make it a ... novella.

5 months after moving to SF with four friends from college, I was the only one left. By the end of my first year, I had made one truly great friend. And then, 2 months later, she left. I was so ANGRY and HURT that I sorta stopped being her friend once she moved. (This was pre-facebook/laptops/blogs/CELLPHONES! and I was 22! I think all that excuses my lameness just a little.)

I HATE to be left.

But now, I've been the leave-er. I left several great friends in Pasadena and it sucked. HARD.

As you know, I've struggled with this. It's so hard to make good friends as an adult.

I really REALLY hope we don't move again for a really REALLY long time. Not because I love Virginia that much, but because I can't stand the thought of making new friends. I have a few fledgling friendships started here and it's been so much blood, sweat and tears ( mostly tears) that I am paralyzed with the thought of having to do it all again anytime soon.

(Okay. I'll go write my own post about it and stop hogging your comments....)

Astarte said...

I hate when people leave. Oddly, I have been the leaver myself, and that hasn't been so great, either, but it's different when you're the one going, isn't it. I try to not feel abandoned, and just pull through until they actually leave, at which point I usually pull myself back together and start redefining my little circle of the earth.