Spring has finally arrived on our fair shores, and has brought with it the promise of something new. We should never be too quick in tossing the winter coats into storage, as bizarre weather patterns are one of our many calling cards. But if I may be so bold, I think winter is behind us for another year and we can all start worrying about getting our beach bodies back. Spring is here to wipe clean the horrors of winter, and to promise change and growth. I find that mood very helpful as I look around my home that is in shambles. No, I haven’t been the victim of burglary: I’m just moving to another country, and let’s just say that packing isn’t going that well. I really hate packing and would be happy enough to get on an airplane with only my passport and hand luggage, but I suppose that would be a bit too expensive on the other side. I’m also slowed down by all the non-suitcase things I have to do like cancelling accounts and having goodbye suppers. And being the sensitive sort, I’m inclined to daydream while trying to tie up the ends of my life here. I wonder about many things, but they all start with the same question. What am I leaving behind?
You know that feeling you get when you leave the house, get halfway to wherever you’re going and then you think, “Did I turn the oven off?” Walking towards security at the airport makes me feel the same way, just on a monstrous scale. Did I forget to do something? Did I forget to say goodbye to someone? Did I leave the oven on?? Well, fortunately I’m not leaving an empty house behind, so a quick call would take care of any minor things I’ve forgotten at home. Mainly the things I worry about are not as tangible or finite as appliance switches. Because I’m not really leaving objects behind, I’m leaving relationships and connections and emotions behind me… all strewn along a path on the way up my career ladder. But is it always a bad thing to leave these things behind? And what if those who you leave behind are happy to see you go? I don’t mean for that to sound so dismal, but more like an “absence makes the heart grow fonder” sentiment.
And then forgive
I’ve written before about some of my friends who also lived in far flung places around the world, far from family. It wasn’t uncommon to find people who had strained relationships with their family members – everything from bratty younger siblings to parents who drove them into debt. Those friends were convinced that, without a doubt, absence did make the heart grow fonder. Not only had they left home in search of work, they also needed that fresh start somewhere very far away from people they once spent every day with. The same was true for friendships. One close friend of mine, in particular, told me after a few glasses of wine how guilty she felt about being happy to be free of her “best friend” back in Canada. It turned out that they had grown up together, gone to the same schools, had the same circle of friends, and she had always felt she was in the shadow of her best friend. She also didn’t really like how she felt when they hung out together, but they had been a part of each others’ lives for so long, she didn’t really know how to end it. She told me that everyone in their circle of friends had already determined their roles years ago, and so she had been stuck with the title of sidekick. For her, one of the surprising perks of leaving Canada was leaving behind an old title she was happy to forget. I suppose she felt a little guilty about it all because leaving home is supposed to be full of sobs and extended hugs, not about being eager and thrilled to be away from this person or that.
Find Silver Linings
In the days leading up to a grand exit, you’d expect things to be a bit more Hollywood-esque. Mostly, it’s just list-making and trying to figure out how much more you can stuff into your bags. I often expect moments of clarity and insight, but for each time I’ve packed my life into two suitcases I’ve only experienced daydreams of where I’m going, and then panic over what little time I have left where I am. I feel excited to turn over a new leaf in a new company with new co-workers and new opportunities. There is a whole different life waiting for me when I disembark at my final destination, all shiny and new – and unfamiliar. Leaving behind the familiarity of my life here means growing again into something I’m not yet aware of. If I’m going to leave behind the comfort of knowing my surroundings, it should at least have a decent trade off. The silver lining in this cloud is the lack of boredom I’ll have for the next little while. It always takes a little time to get your life together in a new place. Aside from the practical tasks of finding furniture and dishes, you also have to figure out who sells your favorite vegetables or where you can have your midday coffee break and so on. You get the chance to carve out a new place for yourself with friends and co-workers, and, with any luck, to grow into what you set out to be when you agreed to make this move.
Spring is here, bursting with promise and new life. When a new season brings you a new place to call home, try not to dwell too much on what you leave behind. While it is sad to miss out on family events or to see relationships wane, it’s not altogether a terrible thing to take it on like the darling buds of May. Even though rough winds may shake you, remember to look ahead to a summer that is just around the corner.