In the summer of 1996, my family moved halfway across the country, from the northwest Chicago suburbs to Bucks County, Pa. I didn’t yet know how terrible starting middle school would be, but having to leave behind my lifelong friends made the move the worst day of my life.
A couple of years later, we would move back to the same suburb an hour north of the Windy City, and the transition back to the same school after only a two-year absence would prove to be just as trying as leaving in the first place.
When my father announced we’d be moving to Greenville, S.C. for my last two years of high school, I decided I wouldn’t anticipate this move with dread. Instead I accepted the chance to move on and reinvent myself.
These periods of change and transition not only prepared me for leaving home for college but also for the ultimate transition into adulthood.
Something I have only recently considered is that perhaps this scar tissue, a reminder of painful separation from friends and loved ones formed at a young age, is in some way responsible for my eagerness to quickly detach myself from relationships.
This weekend I became enamored with an idea: Going out of business! Everything must go!
I never thought I would be the type to coolly dispense with friends or lovers, having worked to maintain friendships from previous moves. But over the last few months, I’ve seen more than one ex tossed into the digital trashcan, the victims of AIM, Facebook and cell phone deletion.
Though some of my old friends’ new relationships were first met with shock and derision, they are now secretly celebrated for the freedom they have afforded my schedule and the lack of guilt for my future plans.
As another of male friends paired off this weekend, I can’t help but think that the universe is trying to make my transition all the easier, locking doors that once seemed possible to open and tying knots in ropes that seem poised to fray. I used to hold on to every friend in stock, but with no inventory left to buy or sell, another market must be sought out.
If everyone - except those you are determined to drag with you into your indiscernible dating and shopping future - is too distracted with their current paramour to notice your departure, can there be pain or sense of loss at your absence?
Perhaps some day down the line when their lover doesn’t thrill them the way he or she once did and the memories of consistent fun and friendship you shared glows brighter than ever before, the absence will be felt.
But those of us who have already experienced loss or grieved distant friends and estranged lovers find it hard to mourn this transition, because it too closely resembles what came before and the gray skies that followed always cleared.
Those who have trained hearts to heal easily fill every hole left by a departed friend or lover with the next one to come along.
They say it takes five years to get a business off the ground. These initial years are fraught with struggles that can leave one demoralized or distraught.
It might seem like the easiest thing to do is to close down, pack up and move on, and sometimes that is the only option. But what if the business or a relationship really suits our needs and desires, even though in the short term it seems to be the most difficult thing to take on?
Some of us would shut it down, not willing to take the risk of financial or emotional ruin. Others would stick it out for a while, only to call it quits a short time later, deciding to break even. But the brave, those willing to ignore their hardened hearts, will work the hardest to make it a successful venture for everyone involved.
After all, not every transition will be as atrocious as starting at a new middle school. Friends and lovers will come and go, and we will crisscross the country perhaps a dozen times or more. But when the investment is worth it, don’t be so eager to pull up the stakes. Camp out for a while. It just might be the most profitable thing you’ve ever done.