When your girl moves away…

IMG_1249 Consider this hypothetical situation:  While living your normal life – coffee in the mornings, sunset walks in the afternoons, backyard BBQs when the weather is nice – your bestie walks in and tells you she is moving to the other side of the world.  There are so many ways for you to deal with this information and whatever you feel; you gotta know it’s okay.  You might feel mad, deserted, jealous or simply sad.  Or maybe you will feel excited, hopeful or eager-to-go-visit.  Likely your feelings will bounce around a bit and you’ll experience a touch of mania: This is the best decision for your family and I am soooo happy for you! And depression: How could you leave me? Why don’t these opportunities come to me? When will I ever see you again? Rest assured that whatever you are feeling, your bestie is feeling that same thing, but on steroids.

For this column, we’ll agree that no matter how you feel, you definitely want to do what is most helpful to your bestie right now.  The good news is that there are so many ways you can make this massive life transition a little bit easier for her, and if she’s lucky to have lots of friends, you don’t need to do all of them.  You can pick the one that seems the most logical and know you are helping her more than you realize.

You might be the friend who lists with her….

IMG_1052Two months before my move, listing became my daily chore.  Shelly came over and saw my scribbled post it notes falling all over my couch, entry table and kitchen counter.  She opened a notebook and methodically copied all of them down in a central place.  Then she followed up with me about each item until they were all crossed off. If we were chatting on the phone and another action item revealed itself, she’d yell, Put that on the list!  She even taught me the secret thrill of writing down something I’d accomplished just to be able to cross it off.

You might be the friend who throws a goodbye party…

IMG_1017I read an article that shared how to make an international move easier on teenagers.  Overvalue what a goodbye party will mean to them, it suggested.  In response, I dutifully planned, executed and paid for some amazing events to mark the farewell between their friends and them.  But for some reason I didn’t feel comfortable doing that same thing for myself. So a few friends stepped up and offered their ideas.  They had to twist my arm for me to agree, but I am so glad I did.  The sustaining memories from those parties, surrounded by women who love me, made leaving so much easier.  One friend mentioned she might skip the party because I’d be surrounded by people and wouldn’t notice one who was missing. Hear this: Don’t skip the party!  And if you hear about a goodbye party and are sad you were not invited, just invite yourself.  It’s impossible for someone who is throwing a party for someone else to know everyone who should be invited.  And if you are sitting around assuming there is a party happening without you, there may very well be, but by golly your bestie could always use more than one so throw her a party yourself!  Thank you Lauren, Terely, Ti and Melissa for giving me awesome leaving memories.

You might be the friend who cries with her…

Yup, your bestie will need to cry.  And she’ll probably need to cry a few different times and about different things.  Just let her be the one to open that door if you can help it.  Cry on your own but do your best to pull it together when you see her.  But if in the middle of sipping her diet coke she chokes up and shares her mourning, worry, or sadness, you should feel very comfortable letting ‘er rip alongside her.  No need to placate her with It will be great!  You are making the best decision!  Just listen to her heart and cry too.

You might be the friend who refuses to ghost…

Do you know about ghosting?  It’s leaving a party without saying goodbye to the hostess.  Public opinion is divided on the topic: Some think it’s rude and others think it helps everyone avoid something no one likes to do.  Ghosting when your bestie is moving is the easy way out, but it will only feel good in the short run.  Your bestie needs a memory of that last hug with you and she will want to know when that hug is happening. We left in the summertime and some of my friends were still on vacation.  They didn’t ghost on purpose, but when I saw them for the last night neither of us knew at the time that it was the final goodbye.  And I wish I had a moment to look back on and remember we held each other and said what we meant to each other and then we wished each other well.  If you have a choice to ghost or give a final hug, go for the hug.  Thank you Linda for resisting the urge and joining the madness on packing day. Thank you Joyce for stopping by as I was handing the keys over to the agent.  Thank you Ti for meeting me for a hug on the side of the road and Nancy for coming down in your PJs when I woke you up.  These are my final moments in San Francisco and I cherish them.

You might be the friend who connects her to someone you know in her new town…

Forever, I will be indebted to the San Francisco people who thoughtfully connected me to the Singapore people.  You graciously shared your besties with me and they have helped me immensely.  Life is so much easier to navigate with friends who have already walked the path that is new to us. Julie, Annie, Ling, Roxanne, Kimberly and Dan: Your besties are taking good care of me!

You might be the friend who organizes thoughtful group expressions for her to cherish later…

Shelly asked many of my friends write me a letter and then she compiled them in a book.  I looked through it when she first gave it to me, but right now I can’t remember what many of the letters said or even who contributed.  But you can bet your bottom dollar I’ll be grabbing it out of the movers’ hands as they unload the container and reliving those words as often as I can.  Jane bought a box of gorgeous metal fortune cookie Christmas decorations and had all my friends write wishes for me.  I have shown exemplary self-control by agreeing not to read them until December.  I will enjoy some emotional income on Christmas tree decoration day, for sure.

You might be the friend who shows up at the door and says What errands can I do for you right now?

IMG_1065Shelly, Craig, Nini, Karla, Kristin, Terely, Jackie, Meg, Linda… the list goes on.  Swing by a garage sale to say hi and work it for the rest of the day?  Drive around town looking for a light fixture the movers broke?  Take my cable boxes back to stupid Comcast? Buy and install a new toilet seat because the old one chooses this exact minute to crumble! Take my list of over the counter meds and travel from Walgreens to Walgreens until you find all that I need?  Hear that my kids haven’t had a home cooked meal in two weeks and show up with a shrimp boil? Come fix my thermostat and refill the picture holes with a mixture of toothpaste and cover-up?  I’ll never be able to thank everyone enough.

You might be the friend who takes the bestie’s kids on awesome timely outings…

IMG_0872Do you know what teenagers do all day while the movers pack a house?  Well, when the mother can think of no other ways for the teenagers to be helpful, they sit on the hardwood floor waiting for it all to be over.  But if Kristin will take him to the movies or Vanessa will take him to a water park, or Shelly will take her to lunch or Hilary will offer up a last minute trip to Mexico, life will get easier for your bestie and her teenagers will have another memory made with friends.

You might be the friend who agrees to exhausting, outlandish outings just so your departing friend can cherish the memory…

IMG_1297Seriously, it was just a regular Wednesday night. I was set to fly the following morning.  We were all exhausted from our own lives of work, constant moving, hosting my teens and me as houseguests, needing to pack for their own vacations etc…  And I insisted they take me to a fancy dinner, then to bi-rite ice cream in the mission because that’s the one that has salted caramel, and then because it was a clear, but freezing night, I made them take me up to Twin Peaks. One of them had to drive a motorcycle up there with my son on the back. And they agreed because they cared about their bestie and they wanted to send her off the way she wanted to go, with awesome memories of her city and the people she loves and with tears streaming down her cheeks afterward.  Dan, Kimberly, Gretchen, Shelly and Craig – thanks for the final hurrah.

You might be the friend who keeps in touch…

Yup, I know it’s easy to go with the out-of-sight-out-of-mind plan.  Seriously, I get it.  I’m the one who moved, after all.  You need to pick up your life and move on.  But if you reach out via skype, whatsapp, viber, facebook or even old-fashioned email, your bestie will appreciate it so much.

And finally….you might be the first friend she makes upon arrival! 

I keep reminding my kids (and myself!) that friendship building takes time.  You can’t know someone deeply right away. It will take a while before we have those belly laughs we shared on the final hurrah.  Give it time!  I’ve heard the advice: accept any invitation you receive, extend as many as you can, go on walks and coffee dates, learn to play Bunco and take up flower arranging.  Do whatever it takes to be around other people. I promise, I’m going to follow all that advice!  But sometimes you just get lucky!  Twiggs and Michelle Reed, thanks for being first besties for all of us.   We are so lucky you were sitting around in Singapore just waiting to know and love us!

You’re welcome, because now you’re prepared.  When your girl walks into your kitchen one day and shocks the predictability of your life, you’ll know what to do. Wrap her in a big hug and tell her how happy you are for the adventure she’s about to take and assure her you will be around to help make it easier.

The danger in naming names is that I might forget some.  Am sure I did.  Please forgive your girl. 

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6 Comments on “When your girl moves away…”

  1. LaLibby says:

    Hurray and Ahhhh….. All your besties are smiling broadly.

  2. Lois Sowell, CPA says:

    Joy that was sonderful. Of course I cried the whole way through this. Thanks Ma

  3. Darling Joy,
    You made a lot of friends very happy today! And keep writing — your words are as beautfiul as you are!

  4. Jackie says:

    Well, I almost missed my bus stop yesterday because I was so engrossed in reading this. You really are my favorite blogger Joy. It doesn’t feel like you have moved away, just that you are on a long vacation and I’m enjoying reading about your “trip” to Singapore. I am so looking forward to seeing you back in SF late September!
    Xoxo

  5. Marci werne says:

    That was wonderful Joy!! Tears through the whole thing! Love your adventurous spirit! Love reading your words! Love you!

  6. Rita says:

    Oh Joy. What a wonderful share. So glad you and the family get to experience this adventure and all os us vicariously through you. Connect with my cousin when you get the chance. Xoxoxo ritarama


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