I was the kid who was up for adventure. Not the kind that involved strapping skis on your feet and throwing yourself down a mountain--that was too crazy for me. My kind of adventure was more about new experiences and new places. I wanted to go, do, see. I spent a few weeks of each summer at one camp or another. When I was twelve, I travelled to Mexico City with five other students and a teacher. I lived with a host family there for three weeks. It never occurred to me to be homesick. (Maybe I'll feel differently when my kids are that age, but right now I can't imagine sending them to Mexico City for three weeks). In college, I studied abroad in France for four months, and the next year did a six week internship in another state. Each place offered new possibilities.
I guess it made sense, then, that after graduating from college, I loaded up my car with boxes and bags and drove across the country to start a new job in a new place. And that a few years after that, I moved to a different country altogether. It probably explains, too, why it's taken me almost eleven years of living in the same city to finally start to admit that we might be staying here for a while.
Whenever my husband and I find ourselves driving our mini-van on long stretches of open highway, I start to get restless. I feel the itch to move, to look for a new opportunity. And yet, I don't want a life of uprootedness. I'm ready for a life of settling down, of sinking in roots, of knowing this is home. (I'm just not sure we've found that place yet--or I should say, my hope is that this isn't it).
But I don't know if my heart can take loving too many more people and places, only to move on.
And I have loved lots of people and places. In fact, I think I've struck it rich when I look back on how lucky I've been with my friendships.
My high school days involved uniform skirts at an all-girls school, classrooms without walls, color coded schedules, and a backpack overloaded with text books. My high school friends were the best you could ask for. They were kind and spirited and fun-loving. We wore flannel shirts and listened to the Indigo Girls. We stressed together over exams and projects, decorated lockers and baked brownies when anyone had a birthday, and spent a lot of time laughing in the cafeteria during our free periods (okay, we called them "mods" but that only makes sense if you understand our school). I don't remember which dates we took to our dances, but I do remember all of us dancing together to These Are Days by 10,000 Maniacs. Retreats, Spirit Weeks, late nights for play rehearsals, Friday night football games...these experiences shaped us and drew us together.
I went to college before Facebook, and lost touch with many of my high school friends. But we would reunite at Christmas breaks to catch up.
My college friendships were just as rich. Late night pizza orders from Papa Johns, more stress over exams and projects, road trips, dances. My friends were funny and sassy and intelligent. We navigated Greek life and Greek classics together. We watched Friends and ER and every now and then a Lifetime Made for TV Movie in the middle of the day. We listened patiently to our friends majoring in education learn to play the recorder, and we dreamed of what would come next in our lives. We walked through heartbreaks and mistakes and broken relationships together.
I graduated and moved across the country, and only kept up with a handful of those college friends.
I made new friends--mostly people who were significantly older or younger than me--in my new home of Colorado. And I quickly came to love them. They taught me about climbing mountains and cooking and church conflict and forgiveness.
I moved away again. This time to Canada.
In Vancouver, I met this vibrant group of people my own age. They changed my perspectives, expanded my worldview. We knew the best coffee shops for long hours of studying and the best restaurants to eat on a student's budget. We crammed as many people as we could into tiny basement suites for dinner and threw randomly themed parties. We learned what community looks like in action. We watched The West Wing on Wednesday nights and walked in the Endowment Lands when we couldn't handle the noise of the city any longer. Most of us moved away, eventually, but we moved on different from how we had come.
I miss my friends--from every phase of my life. They have each shaped my story in some way. I wish I had done a better job of keeping in touch, of staying connected. I'm convinced that I could gather with a group from any of those phases and spend a long time laughing and talking and remembering and catching up.
So, if you are one of those people, one of those friends from my past, thank you. Thank you for being the kinds of friends that I hope my kids have. Thank you for all the ways you challenged me and journeyed with me and got me to laugh at myself. Thank you for being willing to love well in the time we had together.