20 September 2007

The Here and the Now

My best friend is moving to Portland, OR.

Erk and I met our freshman year in college. After college, when I was in Peace Corps, we stayed in touch as best we could with letters, and managed to actually see each other a couple of times, once on a vacation to England and once in the US when I was home for Christmas during my third year. When we were both in grad school in different states, we talked every Sunday night on the phone.

Then, in 1999, we moved to Boston together. And here we have been ever since. Neither of us expected to stay here as long as we have, and both of us aspired to end up back in Portland, where I grew up and where we went to undergrad.

She's landed an amazing job. Great environment, great hours, great pay, great location. I am truly happy for her. She's worked hard for this.

But it's in Portland.

I have two main issues with this: (1) I am going to miss her something fierce, and (2) I am jealous as all get out.

As far as missing her is concerned, well, what can be done? I know we'll talk. She'll see my family a lot. And I have lots of other friends here to keep me company. But I'll still miss her and that won't be fun. She and I agree that it's harder to be left behind than it is to leave, and I'm finding it especially hard since I'm usually the one leaving. I'm not used to this role.

What makes staying behind especially hard for me right now is that Erk's departure brings into sharp focus an unsettled feeling I've had for some time now. I'm having a really hard time being satisfied with what I have in my life. It's easy for me to look at Erk's life and see two big things she has that I don't: a husband and a job she is really excited about in the city she wants to live in. My husband is dead and my job is pretty dead, too.

There are circumstances in my life that I can't change (e.g., John being dead) and then there are those that I can (e.g., my job). Perhaps oddly, I find it easier to make peace with the circumstances that are unpleasant, but beyond my control. If I can't control it, there's no sense in trying. While I may be sad or angry or who-knows-what-else because of it, all I can do is honor those emotions and take life as it comes.

It's those things that I can change that tie me up in knots. I could get a new job. I could move back to Oregon. But those are two decisions that would bring unknown and unforeseeable changes to my life. I can make pro and con lists and project and guess about what those changes would bring, but at the end of the day, I can't KNOW. I want to know. As much as it drives me crazy, my job has some perks (easy schedule, slow pace, close to daycare and home, flexible hours, reasonable pay). Boston has its selling points, too (I own a home, have loads of wonderful friends, an amazing daycare for Maddie and Riley, and a job in an industry that does not exist in Portland). I could gain more than I can imagine by making either one or both of those changes, but I could also lose a lot.

In the end, I'm not much of a risk-taker. I'm also busy and tired. But I'm also discontent, and I'm not sure how to fix that feeling without taking risks. I feel like I'm on the verge of a change, a big change, but I don't know what it is yet or how to make it happen. What I know for sure is that it is getting increasingly difficult for me to be at peace with what my life is right now, and Erk's move is exacerbating that feeling.


Anonymous said...

My guess is the mixture of hormones, lack of sex, loss, the season-at-hand and the holidays looming on the horizon, lack of sleep, being responsible for two children, and if that's not enough -- your recent experience with "friends" when they didn't acknowledge your loss. Oh, and being the "one left behind" when your friend moves. The grass ALWAYS looks greener on the other side of the fence, no matter whose fence it is! Your description of the pluses in your life (job, home, friends, etc.) sounds a whole lot better than MINE!! You get the idea. Perhaps you need to have a good long cry right about now. I find that smooths out a great many rough edges....Tessa B.

bg's Little Sis said...

Last I felt what you describe, I did it, I just jumped and for me in retrospect though it was difficult, it was the best thing I could have done...I'm in one of those modes right now concerning a piece of my life and I'm choosing Not to make the jump and seeing how it goes...for me the biggest factor has been the benefits or lack thereof that are present for my children, i.e., being closer to family or in the daycare/school I thought was best, owning a home or renting in a particular neighborhood, how it was going to effect the kids has made my decisions for me, and that's just for me, I know, for me when my kids are happy, content, challenged to the extent they need to be, safe, everything else falls into place usually.

Whatever you decide in whatever time frame you choose, trust yourself, pat yourself on the back, where you are is where they will be happy, if you're meeting your needs I can only figure the same will go for them. Some leaps you just never know how they'll turn out, you just gotta go with your instinct I guess.

Lots of love to you and the kids, thinking of you and sending you some serenity.


Kizz said...

Though you may not have been the one left behind in earlier times you've certainly gotten your fill of that feeling this year. It's no wonder it throws your view of life into a spin.

I hope that your vision of a content life gels soon and simply.

Pollyanna said...

Change occurs when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change.

Jolene said...

Thank you so much for the advise on the acupuncture. I will tell my sister about it because ultimately, it's Henry and my sister that will decide what's best for him but knowing that it helped John is great to hear. I'm not a risk-taker either. I have so many friends that are moving out of state in order to afford a big, beautiful house but Gerric and I haven't even considered it. My best friend moved away to Nevada a few years ago too...it sucked...it still does. But you get through it. And if anyone can get through this change, you can. I'm excited to hear what your big change will be...I'm sure it will be good and for the best.

Alice said...

Hi Snick, I had some similar feelings in 93 and it pushed me to move to the east coast from CA. The situation I was in was depressing and sad and stagnant. The move was a catalyst for change! It helped me to see the world with different and cleared lenses. Also it helped me to be away from some of the situations and environment that caused some of my grief. I'm just sharing.

Oregon is a great place to raise kids and you'd have family support!

Sending good wishes your way.


Anonymous said...

People say you'll always know when something is right, because you'll "just feel it." People really are wrong. Sometimes, you just can't know - you simply have to believe, and commit yourself to working hard.

I cannot (and should not, nor should anyone else) make such a call for you, except to say that sometimes change - even change that may involve a huge transition and really big steps - is just what a person needs. You may find that breaking away to a new, yet somewhat familiar, part of your life is the breath of fresh air you are craving.

However, if it really is not, then perhaps it is time you assessed individual and smaller changes you could make in Boston that would give you a new perspective.

- A

Jennifer said...

I had the same thing happen when my best friend moved to SoCal, somewhere I've always wanted to live. I can't get up the nerve to change locations or jobs either (and I don't even have kids as a reason not to). That lack-of-peace feeling has been going on for 2+ years now...and I have yet to get motivated enough to do something about it.


halfmama said...

I agree with anonymous "A" that the breath of fresh air is what you seem to be craving. I myself crave change constantly. When I look at life and think, "this is getting monotonous," I get a little depressed. Then not doing anything about it makes me even more depressed. It becomes harder to climb out of that black hole.

That's not to say that I think you should make a change. Like A said, none of us can make that call for you (and not that you are asking). Whatever your final decision, just stay away from the black hole. It can suck you in.

I don't know... maybe a life coach? I don't know anyone who has ever used one and my own knowledge of it comes from Nip/Tuck, which is scary in itself, but the idea of one sounds quite interesting! Or mildly entertaining anyway.

Kathy said...

I was feeling that way for almost 2 years until we moved to San Francisco. I needed change, wasn't happy with my life, and wanted to make a big statement so I could be excited about something - but was also comfortable and liked my life/friends/house/etc so it took a while. You certainly have had a rough year so this urge to change it make perfect sense to me.

Its such a hard situation to be in. If you're sensing change is in the air, go with it. Maybe you need to re-do a room. Or get a new handbag. Or maybe something bigger. Its ok to be jealous of your friend. She's doing what you might be too scared to do. But she will still need you because there is always regret after a big change until you settle in. She will miss her comfortable, Boston life too!!

emily said...

no brilliant words of wisdom, but i have often had the same feeling. i too was used to being the "leaver" rather than the "leavee" and lately it seems that many people around me are making big changes. i've had a couple of times where i was frustrated b/c everyone said "you'll just know what's right when you have to make the decision" ...i totally didn't. just had to take a leap into a direction that i thought there would possibly be a good outcome...and so far, so good! good luck weighing your options but don't feel weird for not just "knowing" what you should do!

Amy said...

Take your time. Think about moving back to the west seriously. Do your homework, find out all you can.

Moving back might to be your advantage. You would have family and friend rooting for you there. And Portland so beautiful! Visited about 5 years ago and a lovely city.

If you want it you will make it happen. Might be just what you need to start feeling ALIVE again. The times I have most felt happy, alive and good? The times I have had to stretch myself that far out of my usual boundries. Change can be GOOD!

Anonymous said...

Here's what I think... we regret more the chances we don't take than the ones we do. And it is SO nice t have your family around. Maybe the move is the change you need.

Lisa said...

I understand that feeling, it is what got me out of the midwest. But very scary, I know.

I always had a hunch that you'd end up in Portland soon. Perhaps Erk's moving there is just one step in the plan to set it up for the right time.

With all of the changes that you've gone through in the past few years, it is completely understandable that you need to take it slow and hold on to the stability you have. Keep the job change/move filed in your head and look for opportunities as they come up while just enjoying the stability and life you have now. At some point the stars will align and things will fall into place and you will be ready. There is no need to hurry. Portland (and your friends/family) will still be here. : )

soralis said...

So sorry about your friend moving so far away. You have been through so much I can't imagine how you must be feeling. Hugs.

OTR sister said...

Is it a help or a hindrance, the common advice: "wait a year after a huge loss to make big changes?"

I'm sorry that your friend is no longer going to be in everyday hug-range.

LeftLeaningLady said...

While I can't feel your pain and discontent, I can feel for you. Conventional wisdom does say that you should not make any HUGE decisions/changes in your life for a full year after the death of a spouse. You are still reeling emotionally and it would probably be for the best to wait until next summer to even consider moving/changing jobs, etc.

Yankee T said...

I'm so sorry your friend is moving away. There's nothing that I hate more than saying goodbye. I'm always the leaver, too-I left my home town for Boston, and then left my beloved Boston for here. In both cases I cried and the people left behind cried, too.

You've had one helluva year. I think of you all the time.

Anonymous said...

Oh I'm sorry. This must be so hard. I think (if you are interested) that what I'd do is give yourself time to complete a full year's cycle from your last big life change before making another one. During that time, like another commenter said, think seriously about what life could look like in Oregon. Do your homework, and following your friend's experience with her transition could be a very useful part of that. I feel like jumping in and moving now, though, might be too jarring. Babysteps are preferred sometimes.

Erika said...

I would make a pro and con list. Pro: family in PDX, highly livable, lots of support, you could probably buy a mansion for what you could get for a house in Boston, etc. And Boston pros--well, job, friends, etc. Only you can make the list with the things that are important to you. If Portland wins, then figure out what you need to do to live there, but move slowly on it. Do you have skills from your current job that would translate to something there? Would you be able to live w/ family for a while until you find a job? Or would you be able to live off of the sale of the Boston house?

I would be jealous too. I love Portland and my family is there--it would break my heart if a friend was able to move back and I couldn't. Hell, I went to my h.s. reunion last year, and my heart was broken by all the people who'd managed to stay around and still do interesting things.

Erika said...

Whoops, I posted the other day on the Diva Cup post as Nate (my screen name)--totally forgot that my Blogger acct had a different name. In any case, that's me...

Caustic Cupcake said...

You hit the nail on the head. The things I blame myself for are harder to take than the things I blame other people for.

And this is totally unrelated to your post, but I thought my site meter stats had just quintupled and now I find out why! Thanks for the add! :)

buddha_girl said...

I have no words of wisdom to share. Just know that I have faith in whatever decision(s)you make. You're an amazing person, Snick.

Michele (Moosh) said...

Remember how I said in my email to you that I thought we were destined to know each other? This is another weird coinkidink....I grew up in Vermont and when I "temporarily" moved to Portland with my best friend we both had every intention of moving back to Boston to live. Well, he's there, along with all my other best friends, and I'm still in Portland!

Anyhow, I'll be thinking of you and praying that you find some guidance--some sort of pull that tells you exactly what you want and need to do. I find that unsettling feeling to be one of the worst feelings of all. You've had so many changes in your life already, I'm sure some days you feel like you're just hanging by a thread.

If you DO move back to Portland, you know you have more than one friend here..... ;-)

Sara said...

Snick-I'm new to your blog (I must have arrived through alittlepregnant, though I don't remember) and have read, start to finish, over this day, in between household chores and fussy 18 month old neediness fits. Just wanted to let you know you're in my heart tonight, and I'm sending Oregon energy your way. It's a fabulous place to be, and I don't blame you one bit for aching over your friend's departure for so many reasons. On the other hand, the known can be a very good thing in a time of such change, I think (and I also will personally go to great lengths-like commuting 100 miles a day, for instance-to stay with a daycare my daughters and I both adore).


Anonymous said...

There are so many issues intertwined in this decision. From reading your blog, I think it is just a matter of time before you decide to leave your job. I think you know that also so the question looms as to when is the best time. That is not a simple question because the best time to leave for you is probably now but the best time to leave as the primary caretaker of your little family is probably not now. It must seem odd sometimes to reflect on how quickly your life has changed - not much over a year ago, you were part of a couple and not yet a parent. Now you are the single parent to two and this fact governs much of your decisions. It probably isn't wise to change jobs unless it means that you can stay where you live and the babies can continue in the childcare situation they are used to. Another year to 18 months and you will have many more options for them while you work (preschool plus daycare settings) and they will need the transition to preschool anyway. All the grief experts state that you shouldn't make major decisions (changing jobs, moving, selling/buying homes, etc.)but I don't think that has to be a hard and fast rule. You will have to decide for yourself when is the best time to find a different job and I hope something comes your way very soon.