Moving to two different states within three years is rife with challenges. The biggest one for me? Bigger, even, than finding new doctors and supermarkets and navigating school politics and back roads?
Gus and I sat by ourselves at Sam’s first lacrosse game last week. I wasn’t sure which crowd was ours because I only know one other parent, and I didn’t see her. So, we awkwardly positioned ourselves in the middle of the two teams, and that’s where we stayed. No one talked to us, no one invited us over. It’s weird, this different dynamic. When Sam played in Indiana, I never even saw a game. I was always too busy catching up, talking, visiting with friends.
But I witnessed every single play of Sam’s game last week. And every moment of Gus’s end-of-season bowling party. Mary Claire and I sat alone there, too.
Yes, I could have introduced myself. Yes, I could have initiated conversation. But it’s such a strange new unknown, breaking into those already-established parent groups, those familiar friendships.
I distinctly remember a Mississippi conversation in which a new acquaintance was describing a fun weekend event. I was excited about going until she said flippantly, “I wouldn’t go if I were you. You won’t really enjoy it if you’re not from here.”
I can’t even imagine what all this must be like for my kids.
Perhaps it’s easier because they are forced into togetherness day after day.
Perhaps it’s more challenging because they are forced into togetherness day after day.
It all makes me wonder… did I embrace the new people in town when I was one of the established ones? Or was I too busy chatting with my friends to even notice that someone was on the outskirts, sitting by herself, feeling lost and alone?
Was I so caught up in my own social circles that I forgot to expand them?
Stepping outside of our comfort zone always presents us with new lessons — both about others and about ourselves.
So, here’s what I’m contemplating now: Am I playing small here to keep myself safe? Am I avoiding creating deep, meaningful relationships with people because I know how hard it is to say goodbye? And because I don’t want to do it any more? In my head, I understand that’s no way to live. But my heart, is seems, is all about survival right now.
I’ve had to say goodbye too many times in the past three years. Too many relationships ended, too many miles traversed, too much change to feel steady or safe.
There’s a reason Dorothy said, “There’s no place like home.” Home is where we belong, where we’re known, where our roots stretch downward. When we uproot ourselves, that feeling of security is altered. The winds that inevitably come threaten our ability to stay upright, to continue reaching up and out.
Home takes time.
In many ways, it’s like having a new baby. Friends visit, cards arrive in the mail, meals are brought to your door. And then six months down the road, you’re standing in the living room in your PJs at 2:00 in the afternoon, nipples sore, hair askew, pantry empty, house a disaster. And you wonder, where did everyone go?
When you relocate, neighbors stop by (well, in this particular case, it was one neighbor; and in Mississippi, it was no neighbors), a meal might be delivered, and you’re left to unpack. Once the kids are registered in school and the boxes are all put into storage and your library cards have been activated, you find yourself sitting alone in your sparkling-clean, freshly-painted family room thinking, where is everyone?
And why can’t I catch my breath?
And why does my heart feel like it’s in a vise?
I know happiness is a choice. I know how blessed I am to have my devoted husband and my awesome kids. I know I could change my circumstances by changing my mindset. I know whatever happens in my life is up to me.
But today, I am just lonely. I am tired. I am overwhelmed.
I am human.
Sometimes all the possibilities of a new place feel instead like a shadowy path peppered with prickly bushes and stinging nettles.
Today, it’s raining.
Both inside and out.