I remembered this morning that my girlfriend Krissy was in the midst of packing up, she’s leaving Melbourne to return to Adelaide. Every year when G and I fly through Melbourne, we pester Krissy and her husband on whether they’ll return to their roots. They both love Melbourne, but Adelaide holds some major cards in the draw. It doesn’t matter where you are in the world, it’s the same three factors when it’s not only your decision – family, work, schooling. The constant weighing up of pros and cons. Grandma versus the MCG.
Krissy loves Melbourne, when others talk of its coldness, she speaks of friends and their warmth. There’s something about making friends from scratch; no old school connections, no rehashing of old stories. With the anxiousness of a cold sales call, we arrive at playgrounds, libraries, school gates and work, with an uncomfortable elevator pitch of who we are and why we’re there. The exhaustion that comes with constantly getting lost, feeling frazzled and discovering the unknown, can be erased with one decent ten minute conversation that ends with a “we should catch up, what’s your number”. Krissy plunged herself into Melbourne, new babies, new houses, a brand new life.
They picked an area, rented then bought and rebuilt. They coached children’s sport, joined groups, helped out, held parties. They saw tremendous grief and celebrated milestone birthdays. I’ve watched from afar as Krissy built her new life. I looked at pictures and realized I didn’t recognise anyone in the new landscape of my old friend. She’d done it, she’d built a whole new community. When they came to visit in Qatar earlier this year, they spoke of friends in the same way we speak of family, because that’s what happens when you move from home. Friends become family.
She rang this morning.
“The removal van just left, its just driven down the road.”
The tone of her voice was familiar, I recognized the sentiment. No going back, it’s really happening.
“It’s like our life just drove down the road in that truck. That’s it. That’s Melbourne – done. I don’t know how you do this all the time? I’m never bloody moving again”.
I laughed, but there were tears forming. I really felt for Krissy, and her shakiness had taken me somewhere else for a moment.
Cities were flashing through my mind. The last week in Jakarta, the last week in Kuala Lumpur, the last week in Calgary. I could organize a party for a hundred people, have a baby, or complete a forty page sales proposal – all three combined do not compare to the highs and lows of leaving town for the last time.
The stress of the pack, the constant worrying about the children, the emotion of letting go, the goodbyes. While you’re ringing to disconnect the phone and the gas, your trying to disconnect your heart from the garden you’ve planted, the school you’ve volunteered at, and the guy you buy your newspaper from each morning. You’re not going to see the perennials that you planted bloom, you won’t stop in for an ice-cream after school at the corner store again. You’re leaving. Face it. You’re leaving.
A new adventure is exciting, terrifying and exhilarating. Stepping forward and moving on, means that that something is being left behind. And sometimes it would just be so nice to take it all with you.