When friends move away

Maple walnut turtle

This gnome tried to take my ice cream, but don’t worry – I kicked its ass!

Last night a few of us got together for ice cream, to say “happy birthday” to Caitlin and have one last fling with Greg and Caitlin before they move to New Mexico in about three days. The next few days are going to be a whirlwind of packing and movers, so … this was a good time for a little quiet moment. (Bonus: surprise showing of Tim’s sister, Amy!)

When I was a kid, we moved around a lot. And when I was a kid (::shakes cane::) we didn’t have cell phones or internet; so unless you were lucky enough to have parents who didn’t mind if you racked up long distance phone bills, moving was pretty much the end of friendships, with the exception of the occasional old-fashioned letter.

Growing up in a university town, too, taught me that people leave. Most people I went to high school with didn’t want to stay here to go to college. And about half the people I knew in college only came here for school and wanted to leave as soon as they could. But I never really had that “but I’m never going to seeeeeeeeeee you again!” drama going on in my heart. I think because I did know of these things called “telephones” (hint: they’re like grandparents to your cell phone) and these things called “letters” (those are like email, only really slow, and written on dead trees). And also, I had the strange and wonderful experience of going to science fiction conventions for most of my youth. Fans are people who make wonderful and true friendships, even with people they only see once or twice a year. There were people at conventions that I didn’t even know what they did for a living, but every time we saw each other it was like we’d never been apart.

So after about  my teen years, it never bothered me that people moved on. If you’re meant to stay friends, you will. You’ll call, you’ll write, you’ll visit. And if you’re not meant to stay friends, that’s OK, it’s just the way life works. People get busy with new experiences and new adventures, and hey, if you miss them that much, pick up the phone.

Two of my dearest friends live in the DC area; Tim and I saw them last summer on our whirlwind tour of the US. Before that I hadn’t seen them in person in… lord, had it been since 2004? 2005? But they’re never far from my heart, and we’ve emailed and they both read my blog and comment here, or text messaged, or sent old-fashioned cards (Quinn is amazing at sending actual real-live-cards, with letters and everything!). With Twitter and Foursquare and Facebook, I always know when my Chicago friends are waiting in line at Starbucks or headed to the library. With Flickr and email, I always know when my Boston (well, now New Hampshire) friends are snowed in or have gotten new cats.

I guess what I’m saying is that some of the people who live in my heart, don’t live in my town – or even my State. But I love them and we keep in touch. So I’m not sad to see these friends move across the country. How could I be sad, when it’s so wonderful for them? Greg got an amazing job where he’s going to be able to play with technology to his heart’s content; Caitlin is going to be able to put an actual dye studio into her house for her business. They’re expecting their first child. They’ve bought their first house. They’re on this amazing, wonderful, stressful, life-changing journey and they’re in it together. I feel honored just to be able to see the magic happen for them!

This is all not to say that I’m not going to miss them on Thursdays, when we usually get together for knitting; but this isn’t the end of our story together. I can’t wait to see dye bar (and new baby) pictures!

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