My best friend moved away today.
If you watch Grey’s Anatomy, you know what it means when I say that she is my person. The one who gets me. And I get her. And now she’s gone.
My husband and I spent our first five years of marriage in Ithaca, the home of both Cornell University and Ithaca College. By nature of it being a college town, there was a large transient population. Nearly all of our close friends were students of some kind, destined to move away eventually.
So when we moved to our current tiny town, we expected that the transience would stop and we’d settle into some life-long friendships. People, this is a town where there are still folks living on the roads that are named after their ancestors. There’s a lot of loyalty to this place, and some pretty impressive family trees. For example, there is a family in our church which has four generations of attenders.
And yes, there's a road named after them.
Unfortunately, over the five years that we have lived here, we have watched at least twelve families move away. Three of those families were particularly dear to us.
Now, that’s not a huge number unless you realize just how small this community is. So just trust me, that’s a lot of people moving away. Part of it is that our tiny town is still a college-centered community, and college communities tend to be, by nature, transient.
But even so, we expected more stability from this place.
I have a lot of insecurity and I like being alone, so making close friends is already difficult. But it is absolutely crushing to spend years slowly cultivating a close friend, only to lose her to some hipster city across the country. Its like planting blueberry bushes, patiently grooming them for years and then losing them to a brush fire the year they were finally ready to produce fruit.
This is why what Kelsie said in her post really hit home to me:
“Being intentional about community, about really having people be a part of our lives, means not holding back even if people are going to move away.”
I’m at the point where I’m frankly afraid of making new friends. What if they up-and-leave me, too? How am I supposed to keep investing in people if they are going to leave me just when I feel like we’re about to produce some beautiful fruit?
So I cry, and feed her and her husband their last meals in town, and help them pack the truck, and cry. And then I bless them as they drive off into the dark, rainy night.