Some people live their life from cradle to grave in the same place. Others move around once or twice, to another city or a neighboring state. Or they might move around for most of their life, to different countries or continents. There’s a lot that goes into that, figuring out where to go and why you’re going there, getting your stuff and yourself over there and so on. But once it’s done, it’s done, and you don’t really need to think about it anymore. But moving is hard. Not because of the “moving,” but because of the leaving.
When you move, especially a great distance, you’re starting fresh. You don’t know anyone and nobody knows you. That’s uncomfortable, especially if you had a pretty good social network previously, or even just one or two friends. It’s been so long since you’ve been totally alone that you don’t even remember how you met people in the first place. Or you do remember how you met people: it was by a sheer fluke, some coincidental meeting or moment that doesn’t seem likely to happen again. It’s hard to be alone, no matter how long you’re intending to stay in your new location. For a while, you hope for some chance meeting of the minds, where you lock eyes with someone and feel some kind of connection, and then you hope for them to come approach you first because God knows you’re not gonna be the one to do it.
Eventually you realize that, unfortunately, your life isn’t a fun coming-of-age drama and you might have to actually put some work into this. So you go online to look for group meetups, or dates or whatever. And after losing count of how many people you’ve met and forgot, something finally clicks. You connect with people over a shared hobby or interest, or you find someone with the same thoughts and feelings as you, or you just happen to start getting along with a group of co-workers. Maybe this will happen in a couple of weeks. Or it takes a year or more.
Somewhere along the way, whether you want to or not, you lose touch with your old friends back where you came from. It’s slow. You might even make jokes about how you don’t talk as much as you used to, and one of you says “haha, yeah, we should do something about that.” But the messages keep slowing down — they’ve probably found new people. That’s okay.
At least, you tell yourself that. Until it’s 3 a.m., and you’re thinking about all the good times you shared and wondering if you’ll ever be able to recreate those moments again with other people. But even if you do, it won’t be exactly the same. How could it be? You think about texting your old friend again, but it’s been so long now. Months, maybe years have passed since you last spoke to them. What if they’ve forgotten you? What if they’ve moved on completely and met people that they’re way closer with now than they ever were with you? What if you’re the only one still thinking about them? So you don’t say anything, and the chasm between you grows ever larger. But the next day, someone notices you’re looking a little down, and them noticing is all you need to start feeling better. You open up to them, and they nod and listen. “It’s hard to leave people,” they say, “It takes time, and it can hurt. Sometimes people are in our lives forever, and sometimes they only occupy a specific time and a place. And that’s okay.”
Slowly, the sleepless nights become nights out with the people you’ve let into your life. The thoughts of if you should’ve stayed where you were, with the same sunset and the same people, fade into the background. You belong here now. At least until it’s time to move and start all over again. Sometimes, something happens, and we have to leave whether we want to or not. It’s not easy. And that’s okay. Because once in a while, we meet someone we never have to leave, someone who’s always beside us emotionally if not physically, someone who always feels like home.