There's something to be said about coming home. Moving home. Going back to your people. I'm not sure if I'm qualified to say what it is, if it's good or if it's bad.
To me, coming back home was a signifier of defeat. Giving up my desires, crumbling in, sacrifice. But at least I'd have my old friends to reconnect with, right? Through the years away, my friends have stayed in touch to an extent. I'd come back on holidays and we'd all reconvene in a splendid and supportive constellation. So, they would be there, and my coup de grâce would not take me down completely.
My husband and I came to northwestern Washington from Nashville, Tennessee for greater employment opportunities. We love our home in Nashville; we love our friends in Nashville; we couldn't find a way to love the economy in Nashville. While Forbes Magazine has ranked Nashville as #5th most affordable US city to live in, we couldn't manage to afford it with the jobs we couldn't get.
A call of availability for fantastic job came for my husband last November. Six days later we packed what we could fit in the Subaru (including two rowdy dogs) and migrated north. (Go north! The rush is on.)
[While family is nice and is always there, this post is not about family.]
We had a magical Christmas Eve celebration on Samish Island that made me faithful about things to come. (Thank you Becky and Dylan) A seafood barbecue, merry beers, beautifully laid out smorgasbord, a santa firetruck, and a reconvening love that included my husband (who at the time was a stranger). It was easily one of my favorite nights ever.
I thought all future stages would be performed with that same love. I thought, I'm here now! I can be part of this again. But, the old gang has moved up and out. It has morphed. It has been married off, promoted up, moved away. I began to notice that I was sort of an afterthought for addition. A by-the-way, if you will. "Oh, hey! By the way... X is happening and everyone's going to be there." Being out of sight for so long must've put me out of mind. It's difficult to understand, because I have never forgotten them. I've loved them so. And I still do. And then I'm not invited to their weddings. (And then I have to see the photos of those weddings all up and down the social networking streams and everyone so happy together except, well, you know.)
I'm torn. Do I make the stronger effort to reconnect? Or, do I just look to reinvent a new social life? Something that I've done so many times in all the cities I've lived in. Something I never thought I'd need to do here. I'm at a loss in so many ways.
Do I accept the by-the-way invitation and set myself up for future reenactments of this scenario:
Talking with a group of old friends at a bar that I was working at. (Yes, I've even had to pick up bar work, because even here, while my husband has good work, an artist struggles in this economy.)
One friend says to the rest of us, he says, "I never thought we'd be so successful." So I guess it wasn't to the rest of us, but the rest of them.
I mention something about my success in academia, having earned two master's degrees and plenty of accolades along the way but the struggle I've had finding serious employment in result.
Same fella says, and oh! how it burns a puke-sick hole right through me, "Master's degrees are overrated."
I want to cry. This is the economy for suffering friendships too, I guess.
And now, I want to cry still. I am so desperately lonely, understanding that my social sacrifice is for the good of my future family - my husband's work. I relish in all the true-hearted communications, efforts made by my beloved old-time, all-time friends. There are many. I still have places to stay when I visit Seattle, (thank you Spencer and Andrew), and Portland (thank you as always Dylan). I know that people deserve more effort than what I've given, but at the same time... I have no idea how I got to this space.
Perhaps this can function more as a love letter for all the friends I left behind in Nashville, Tennessee. Their love and love and love and love keeps me afloat. While proximity limits me to the remnants of "the old gang," I still have a massive support system.
"To all my friends," happy holidays.