I’ve heard stories of people who move a lot during their school years, how it affects their ability to make friends, feel stability, and ultimately feel safe in one place. Fortunately, this didn’t happen to me growing up. Instead, it’s something I’m now experiencing in adulthood.
I’m originally from Canada, and due to a series of unfortunate events, I’ve had to move back and forth between the Great North and Down Under for the past three years. Due to the frequency of my departures, it’s been years since I’ve felt true stability.
This is an experience that I think affects all people during young adulthood: we’ve moved away from home for university, maybe we have to move again even still for a job opportunity and all the while we’re slowly losing old friends and growing further from our family. Somehow, it all feels out of our control and yet is of our own making.
Upon this publication, it has been almost exactly a year since I’ve last seen my best friends and family. I’m missing massive life events whilst away: weddings, newborn babies, chronic illnesses, deaths, and funerals.
When I do visit home, everyone looks a little bit older. Some have grown tired, more cynical with age; others have changed for the better. There are new buildings I’ve never seen, old buildings I now see only in my memory. Everything feels the same, only a little bit shifted: the way you might feel in the dark if someone moved all of your belongings two inches to the left.
Frankly, it’s hard to sugar coat that: it’s depressing and it’s scary to watch everything and everyone you know alter in your absence, and it’s a phenomenon that we experience whether we move oceans over or mere hours away.
Having moved, when we do finally find something long term, somewhere we intend to create new roots, we then have to build makeshift families. We find new best friends, new hobbies, new watering-holes. In our need to feel at home somewhere, anywhere, we have to replace and emulate what we’re missing from our origins while still trying to embrace the “new”.
So maybe, that’s just the cost of experiencing new things and new places. The novel people in our lives may start as surrogates for the ones that we miss, but eventually they grow into something more, something worth staying for. We create for ourselves the lives we want to live and sometimes that means removing yourself from the lives in your past—if only for a little while.
At the end of the day, when we crawl into our not-quite-right beds, the one comfort we can take from the experience is that we can always go back; we can always go home. Most everything we know will still be there, if only moved a few inches to the left.