As I look ahead at another huge change in my life (moving across the country, starting seminary), I’ve also been looking back. It’s been months since I spent any significant time on Facebook, yet I’ve been spending time these past few days looking at all my old friends and classmates. I’ve been thinking of all those friends I have been close to in the past who now seem so distant. And I’ve been trying to hold back a growing sense of sadness.
I’m not good at keeping up with my old friends. All my old high school friends live around the area we grew up, and hang out together, and celebrate birthdays together… and I don’t. My college friends have moved around the country, and the phone calls have gotten fewer and farther between. And all those friends I have met along the way in various places seem to have slipped away. I want to be present to those around me, to live life in the now, and those who are a drive or a phone call away are so hard for me to stay in touch with. I’m just not good at picking up the phone, or even writing an e-mail. I could give you a list of all those people I have been thinking about lately, all those I miss and would like to talk to, but I haven’t called, I haven’t written… I’ve just felt guilty about it.
I feel torn. Is all this moving and changing healthy? It almost seems consumeristic to stay in an area just long enough to get what you want out of it, and then move on to the next place, leaving all the people behind. Relationships are like those beloved items sold at the rummage sale before you move- you love them but there just isn’t room to take all of them along, so you sell some here and then buy new ones there.
Should we stay in one place, and make a commitment to the people and the community around you, or move around, creating new relationships with people as you go? Maybe this is why people settle after a while- the heartbreak of leaving so many people behind catches up with you after a while.
So, California, and new relationships, here I come. But then, after we leave there, maybe I will stay put. Maybe it will be time to commit to a community and relationships for the long haul. And maybe it will not be the boring life I imagined all settled middle-aged people who own homes have, but it will be a beautiful new adventure deep into the heart of a community.