Goodbye to All That

When I moved out of NYC, my mom gave me a copy of Goodbye to All That, an anthology of short essays about living in, and leaving, New York. But when I moved to Colorado, I didn’t think I’d be saying goodbye. Sure, I was moving, but I’m lucky enough to work at a job where I travel quite a bit, and I figured I’d be back to New York plenty. So far I’ve been able to visit New York three times since I moved in January, but after this trip back, it’s clear that quite a lot actually changed when I left, and that I can’t get those things back simply by visiting. They say you can’t go home, and now I think that’s true.

My trip this weekend spanned New York City, Albany, and New Hampshire – and unfortunately, a lot of it just wasn’t the good time I was hoping it would be. A lot of my relationships back east seem to have changed. Not always in bad ways, like my best friend who’s gotten really serious and settled down with his girlfriend (yay). But so many relationships are so very different than they once were, and I realized that in most cases, we couldn’t just go back to the way things used to be. In fact, each relationship responded to the cross-country move in the exact opposite way that I thought it would.

With the new relationships that I formed not too long before moving, it was great to catch up and see each other in person. With the old relationships that I admittedly was the one to let languish, we picked back up and things were better than ever. I feel like my visit strengthened both of those types of relationships and that we’ll be closer and probably stay in better touch now that we’ve gotten to see each other in person.

Kelli Darin and Roo

High point of the weekend: I can’t wait for baby Roo to arrive!

That all sounds really positive, but then we come to my closest relationships. These were the one that I’ve put a lot of work into trying to preserve since moving, and before I moved, I felt the most confident that these could weather the distance and would survive just fine. Unfortunately, seeing these people ended up being kind of awkward… and in some cases, I was even criticized and insulted. Going forward, I think there are a few relationships that are just not going to exist anymore, and it really upsets me to let those go. These were the relationships that I thought were so strong that nothing could ever change them, and it scares me to think that if I had known things would end like this, I might have actually considered it a reason not to move. And I am so glad I made the right decision for me and moved!

So maybe it’s time to say goodbye to all that – goodbye to the east coast and most of my relationships there. I once heard the phrase, “in leaving the nest, the baby bird can’t help but destroy it.” (Anyone know where that’s from? Perhaps some terrible kiddie chapter book that I read over and over?) I think it’s a pretty apt analogy, though, and I feel like I’ve spent a lot of time and energy trying to make sure that I don’t destroy my former “nest”, but failing to recognize that it’s already in pieces. I’ve been trying to embrace my new home in Colorado in a lot of different ways, but I think to really find happiness there I need to stop wasting time chasing long-distance relationships with those who don’t accept my move and aren’t making their own efforts to continue our relationship.

Instead, I need to focus on the amazing Colorado relationships that I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have already made – much faster than I ever thought possible. (Another surprise of the moving process, although this is a really positive one!) In the near future, I’m looking forward to getting to spend a lot more time in Colorado, and a lot more time getting to nurture those relationships :)

Comments

  1. Word. It’s always surprising which relationships weather moves and which do not. I’ve been fortunate enough that a few of my very good friendships have weathered the storms of cross country moves, but it’s always so difficult to keep things going as they were.
    A ton of my friends are PhD students or post-docs which means people are always moving. I’ve made some amazing friends only to have them leave a year later. I found this to be a good read: https://www.insidehighered.com/advice/2014/08/04/essay-way-academics-must-get-used-friends-moving-elsewhere
    Getting criticized for making a good move for yourself? Not cool.

    • That is a really good article! I can’t imagine having to live with that all the time, though I suppose I do a fair bit of it in that I “live” in a city for a few months and then change projects. I still miss the town of, and my friends in, Charlottesville, where I worked in 2010-2011!

  2. Often we view our decisions as good choices or bad choices, but really they’re a mixed bag. Most choices involve trade-offs. What’s important is to make choices that are consistent with your priorities. It sounds like you’ve done that.
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    • Dave, that’s a great point. That said, I probably would have prioritized these relationships over my move if I had realized they’d be jeopardized, so maybe it’s good that I didn’t know beforehand!

  3. Mary-Mike says:

    Thank you for this timely post, Laura. I recently had a friend move across the country, and they told me they didn’t see the point in maintaining a relationship with that much distance. It hurt to hear that, but it’s interesting to see the movers perspective on just how hard it actually is.

    • Mary-Mike, it’s so great to hear from you! I can’t imagine anyone saying ahead of time that there’s no point in maintaining a relationship with that much distance – I think it’s important to try it out and give it your best shot. In my case, there are some relationships that are still doing well despite the distance; there are just others that are NOT working despite the efforts, so I think it’s time to drop those.

  4. I liked this post, Laura. I experienced something similar when I moved away from NYC. What I thought were close friendships (after several years of living there) really turned out to be rather superficial and without much depth. It was a bit sad, but I still wouldn’t trade the experiences I had in New York and the time I spent with those friends. Like you said, you just accept it for what it is and focus on the friendships that are worth nurturing. :) I’m glad you’re enjoying Colorado so far. I need to check out that book too!

    • Unfortunately, I think you never really know how strong a friendship is until its tested. Fortunately, there are so many friendships that ARE wonderful and deep!

  5. Your nest might be in pieces, but that’s not to say that it won’t come together again sometime later in life. I agree that you should focus on your Colorado friendships, but don’t totally discount your old ones. My mom told me once, and I totally think it’s true, friendships ebb and flow. You might find yourself having absolutely nothing in common with what used to be your best friend barely talk and then five years later, you reconnect and can’t remember why you let so much time pass.
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