I said goodbye to some friends last week.
You’d think I’d be used to it by now.
Being a news reporter, I stopped for two years in North Alabama, two in South Florida and four in Las Vegas, before finally moving to my husband’s home city of San Diego. In each place I made friends to celebrate birthdays with, eat cold Christmas turkey in between work shifts with, bought wedding gifts, baby shower gifts, explored our town with, and sometimes even traveled with.
Living like this, you learn how to say goodbye. Over the years I must’ve attended dozens of going away parties and have had three of my own. Often tearing up over cocktails and memories, knowing the very people I bonded so quickly and fiercely with in the trenches of TV news would soon be out of my life for good.
At least there’s social media.
But there’s an unexpected and bizarre beauty to this kind of life. I can travel to any region in the country and find a free bed to sleep in, my own personal tour guide, or laughs over lunch as we travel down memory lane.
So when my husband and I met the couple living the Navy life - one half from the west coast and the other from the midwest - there was an instant bond. We understood what it was like to live “somewhere else”. To be in a marriage with families living on opposite ends of the country. To be forced into worlds you never fit in, but learn to adapt to.
So despite the fact we knew they would one day leave, we spent two years sharing dinners, dog training trips, and the ups and downs of our lives. But when moving day finally arrived, forget tearing up, this time there was full-blown crying.
They were huge in helping us settle into our new life in San Diego. They were some of the first to relate to this weird Jesus loving, yet liberal, yet conservative, yet church, but not your grandma’s church, kind of life we wanted. We've shared our crazy, screwed up life experiences, and bonded over splurging on overpriced hipster food.
We’ve prayed together. Played “Cards Against Humanity” together. I’ve cried with her.
Of course, when the good ones leave, they never move within driving distance. Instead, it’s all the way to the northeast. About as far as you can go.
In the world of military, you never know what can happen. They could be back. They could get stationed even farther.
For some reason, this time knowing I have a place to crash in a state I’ve never been to, is of little comfort. Maybe I’m hormonal. Maybe I got too comfortable, ready to commit to life in one spot. Maybe it’s our mutual love of our dogs.
She says it’s not goodbye, it’s see you later. I say she better get better at using Instagram and Facebook.
But even as my heart hurts and a new gap is opened where once again, dear friends are departing, I still believe in that old, dumb saying.
It is better to have loved and lost, than to never have loved at all.
It is better to have people to do this life with. It is better to know and be known. Then struggle through life doing it on your own.