Of all the major events I’ve been blessed to experience, most have been related to a departure of some kind.
I must have been six or seven when my mom decided she was going to leave for the first time. She was going to leave my dad and take my sister and I with her. I remember packing a red plastic wagon with my most valuable books and toys, then waiting in the living room. Awkwardly enough, my dad was waiting in the same room, beside me. He saw the wagon holding my home, and he said, “Nobody is going anywhere.” From that day on, being in my family felt like standing in a doorway, except I never knew what was on either side, and I never knew when the door would close.
Many years later, I left. I landed in Canada, a new continent with new people, new places, and new everything. Leaving a place you’ve lived in for eighteen years is a very rough thing to do to yourself – it took me six months to even realize I was being strangled by the memories that I refused to let go of.
But eventually, I lived: it was the first time I lived on my own, and I made the closest friends I ever had. In those sweet few months, I connected with people in ways I never had before. Those months were the best I ever lived in my life.
But I fucked it up. Because ten months later, I left that all behind to take my first job ever as a writer in Germany. I’d never stepped foot on mainland Europe until I first arrived a few months ago. So that culture shock, combined with the brutally abrupt separation from a new home I had just worked so hard to build, made the move a waking nightmare.
Even now, even months after I decided to move, I still don’t know if this is the best or worst decision I’ve ever made.
After moving so much in such a short time, I finally figured out why it sucks.
It’s because people are soft. They have dormant issues that only surface when they face the most challenging obstacles, and moving is definitely one of those things that can be a challenging obstacle.
Until you move, you don’t realize that your relationships are contingent on getting, not giving.
Until you leave people behind, you don’t know how you can care about them if you don’t get to show them that you do in your own fucked-up, selfish way like you used to.
Until you lose your home, you don’t really appreciate the value of the little moments that make it feel like one.
Moving to a new place exposes flaws in your framework for connection, it shows you where things don’t work, in the most painful way possible. But that means it only teaches you to be more selfless, more honest, and more genuine.
Eventually, you learn to make peace with the unraveling.
You can never ignore the hurt. You never stop feeling the anguish. The anxiety. The worry. The longing.
But eventually, I had to move on, so I took all that with me and made it my fuel. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to meet a lovely, driven, selfless young lady tomorrow and spend the next twenty years being a house husband. I would also love to live out of a backpack, roaming the planet on an electric skateboard. I don’t know what I want, and I honestly don’t care.
Because if leaving has taught me anything, it’s that people don’t really care for very long. Sure, there’s the long goodbyes and the emotional last words, but in the big scheme of things, I don’t think I’m that big of a deal. People move on with their lives after a while, and you’re just the fucker left alone thinking about times that will never come again.
At the end of the day, what matters more is that you can live with yourself. And for now, going to new places and leaving old ones is the best way I can get better at doing that.