I'm lonely. I don't know how else to describe this feeling. This emptiness. This sense of longing. It's not without hope or expectation, but still this loneliness is defeating as well. It's hard to be lonely.
Loneliness is a byproduct of a life lived the way we live. It's bound to happen when you move as much as we do--especially international moves where you're dealing with a new culture and not just a new place. We all feel it. Deep in our bones. It makes us a bit frantic sometimes. At least me and Biggest. Biggest and I get frantic. We want to call people and make playdates and we hope no one is mad and we want to invite everyone over all the time and we hope we'll do the right thing and they'll like us and we'll be 'friends.' But I'm not sure either he or I are all that realistic about what this means. "Friends." We try hard to lower our expectations but try as we might we know they're still so high.
Wanderer and I feel it too. A dance of close and yet far away. Only each other to talk to--really TALK to. So we share a lot. But it's difficult to be the others only sounding board. And so we say too much or not enough or the wrong thing and getting it wrong is a much bigger deal. There's no other substitute or surrogate so when we get it wrong then there's NO one to talk to about that and we're far away again. Sometimes we stay far away for while. Meandering and stumbling and blazing through our lives and feeling unsure when to try again. Interject. Reach out. Having only one person as your go-to for community is not very wise. Sex, parenting, friendship, laughter, just the inane talking that sometimes a girl like me needs to do. Only one person should never be expected to absorb all those things. The good news is I try very hard not to make him. The bad news is much of it gets kept inside. Words. Dreams. Thoughts. Questions. Hurts. Fears. Worries. Exultations. And somehow they get dulled inside. And sometimes they get sharper and all I know is that it feels very lonely to carry them around by myself. But I don't have anyone else to share them with yet. So. I feel ever so excruciatingly lonely.
I hate moving. I hate it almost as much as I love it. The exhilaration of a new city, country, continent full of new adventures in direct proportion to the heartache of having to start again from scratch.
Scratch is a funny word for it actually. Like cooking from "scratch." I prefer that. I almost never buy things in boxes or pre made packaging. I prefer to wing it with what I've got. Adding a little of this and a little of that until it's yummy and just right for me and my fam. I guess that's what one does with a new locale as well. But the same hard thing is true of building a life from scratch that applies to a recipe--you can never recreate the same yummy dish twice. And when you have a yummy dish of a life going it sure is hard to leave behind.
Our last two locations were by no means perfect, but they sure were yummy. I'm only four months in here--I've got plenty of time--but damn it if I'm not down in my belly longing for some of the yumminess. I'm gathering ingredients. Some of the basics are in place: a great Farmer's Market for weekly shopping and an identified regular grocery store whose aisles and products I am beginning to shop with ease. Two close fantastic coffee shops. Even a fun boutiquey shopping area for girlish afternoons. I have the house all set up the way I like it and enjoy being here. I haven't found a regular doctor we like yet. I haven't even attempted finding a babysitter. School was set, but it's been so hard I'm not positive we don't need to switch that one out. Plus the most important ingredients of all--we have some people we've hung out with. Perhaps-ish ingredients in the settling-in recipe. We enjoy being with them. They invite us back--which seems to mean they enjoy us too. We do play dates and family dinners and it goes a long, long way towards cutting the loneliness down. Early though. Four months isn't quite long enough to say whether we'll be FRIENDS friends or not.
FRIENDS are the ones who come over when you're sick and take your kiddos somewhere so you can nap and try to get better. Or make you a cup of extra sweet tea and cry in their kitchen with you when your brother-in-law dies or even just when you've had it with your kiddos and need a moment with another adult. FRIENDS plan girls nights and breakfast mornings and remind you and ask you again and then again because they know you're an airhead or at least very distracted with everything going on and they don't get mad or at least they never tell you they are. FRIENDS sit around fires and chat long into the night about all things wrong and right and good and hard in the world and they don't try to fix you, they just let you talk but they do say hard things if you need to hear them or kind things and they MAKE SURE you hear those too. FRIENDS walk in the woods and pick through flea market finds and introduce you to their favorite breakfast place. FRIENDS rescue each others cars from the sea and tents from the wind and hearts from the gutter of despair or depression or just a really bad week. FRIENDS love your kiddos and are fiercely loyal to them and let you be to theirs. FRIENDS are the ones you call on Friday night at the last minute and say "I don't feel like cooking" when what you really mean is that you feel like company and you all order take-away or throw something together--together--and bring wine and chocolate. FRIENDS.
I'm just so lonely. The thing is I have those FRIENDS. Those lovely precious ingredients in such a yummy life, but they're all so damned far away. They're not gone. They're only a phone call or an email or a Skype or FaceTime date away--and I do reach out into the distance for them often and am often comforted. But the thing about a new place, a new neighborhood, city, country, continent is that you have to start over. You must. You have to set out again on a road to making friends into FRIENDS. You need those folks 2 doors away. A short drive away. You have to find someone to cry over a cup of tea with. To walk, and eat, and explore, and laugh, and hang out with. You have to make FRIENDS nearby. It's essential. That process takes time, and energy, and the willingness to be vulnerable and brave and make mistakes.
In fact it's part of the beauty and enormous blessing of moves--that each time your heart swells to take in new places, people, stories, FRIENDS. It's just that the swelling often occurs after the heartbreak of leaving your delicious life behind. You know the new recipe will emerge, but damn if you weren't quite done enjoying the one you left behind.