I grew up in one house, in one city. The city is still in my bones and memory and nothing feels like home as much as the bricked sidewalks, shady trees, and illuminated monuments of my hometown. Somewhere in the core of my self-image, I will always live there.
But, I moved away to college, and after college came many moves — Canada, New Hampshire, Ohio, Kansas, Maryland. We talked about moving overseas but as the children were born and grew that goal seemed to drift further away. Until now, when after months of talking about it, we packed up and got ready to move to the UK in four quick weeks.
Four weeks is short enough that, if you don’t really think about it, moving away has a dream-like quality of unreality. You say “see you later,” to someone at the market, and don’t realize until a few days later that that was it, that was the final goodbye.
I’m almost glad so many goodbyes are happening without my full awareness. To know that the children I knew as babies and have watched grow into fascinating little people will be pre-teens or more when I see them next — that is a reach-for-the-hanky realization. To sit with the women who are more than friends, who have been my lifeline as I struggled with motherhood and finding my place here in Maryland, and to suddenly appreciate that I am leaving that warm circle of companionship behind — that’s another box of hankies.
I’ve moved enough to know that friendships don’t end when you don’t see each other everyday, but I know they change. The good ones grow deeper, stronger, and you pick up right where you left off as if the intervening years never happened. I have a few friends like that, and they make life worthwhile. I hope I’m lucky enough to find more in England.
I tell myself I’m not saying goodbye. But I’m keeping the hankies close.