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When Your Friend Is Moving Away

By Lorna Peden Waterman

Reflections on a Friend Moving Away.

Moving on to browner pastures.

It's 1am and she's nearly packed. Cheap plastic kitchen gadgets, a single china place setting from a grandmother who has passed on, and more DVDs than a small town Blockbuster Video are meticulously wrapped and stacked in moving boxes. She'll take the computer and the game consoles in the car with her because you just can't trust movers. I nod. I did the same when I moved from PA a decade ago.

We're on the floor, leaning against her bed, surrounded by boxes. It's one of the rare times that we are quiet. What can possibly be said? Her husband's job brought her to Arizona, and it's taking her back to Texas, like a confused lover, or a demented child moving game pieces across a map.

best friends

She's a good friend and a very kind person. She came from humble means and I am honestly delighted that her husband is doing so well in his new profession. I also recognize and respect that Texas is her home state, a part of her, and she has missed it terribly. After returning to Philly last year for the first time since 1997, I understand how our people and our culture, our words and our norms, are things that cannot be found elsewhere. I loathed getting on that plane and leaving the smells and the sounds and the tastes of my one true home. And when she spoke of Texas, and her eyes sparked, and her hands flew about with excitement as she described her town, I could imagine that she was experiencing the same thing.

The void that will exist in her absence is larger than the shape of our friendship. Through my time with Kim, I accepted one disturbing and relentless trend: true friends are hard to find. And harder to keep.

I have spent, as I said before, ten years here in Arizona. This is a transient state. The real estate boom promoted the concept of starter homes. The tax laws encouraged moving every two years, pocketing equity, and buying up. Neighbors don't stay. Myself, I have lived in four homes since my arrival.  

Although the boom has passed, there is still no ability to make homes long term as many houses are being foreclosed upon; moving trucks tear through tumbleweeds that often result from neglected front yards. Houses on either side of me have been for sale for nearly two years. The two directly across the street were sold at auction last month. My children play with three kids from a single family that is moving in six weeks. They'll be losing their second set of friends in three months.

Even more than the geographical boundaries that create a neighborhood, there is a lack of desire to know the people who you live near. When I was growing up, you knew kids by their family names. That one's an Amato, and the two over there are Shields'. Watch out for the Walker girls and don't make the Fioka's mad because the four brothers will not let their little sister go unavenged. But I don't know anyone's last name these days. I don't even know the parents of the children who my boys bring home because they seem to have no need to meet the person who feeds, shelters, and entertains their brood.

My kids should be those Waterman boys, but they aren't because people don't care to know their names. That makes me sad.

To be honest, I don't really miss the people here whom I have called "friend" and who have moved on. They didn't seem to understand what friendship is, or what it could be. Perhaps I just attract people who are endless pits of need, who have nothing to give. Or maybe it's cultural. Where I grew up, we had so little, but gave so much. So much time, attention and support. Meals and hospitality flowed freely. Not so much here in Suburbia. They drive into the garages of their McMansions, not to be seen until the next day. Or, in the case of an ambulance, they can always be counted on come out to rubberneck.  

And you know that the only time that you are on their minds is when you have a new car, or when there is a whiff of something to be gossiped about.

Kim and I came together through a mutual acquaintance who was just that toxic. I was so thankful for Kim, for someone who was finally honest, and kind and giving. She was generous and fun and other-centered. We have had a fantastic time learning about each other. I had no idea what I had been missing until I found it.  

And now she's going. I think I am okay with it because my life experience has proven to me that people will continue to be brought into my life as long as my business with them is unfinished. I have peace about this.  

Kim's crying. This year here has been hard on both of us and its ending. A part of me is just so happy that she will be with her people, and the other part is wondering what I will do now.  I know that I won't settle for a fa├žade of a friendship ever again. I have learned so much about myself and I deserve better than what I have been settling for.  

She brings me home and her car pulls out of the driveway. She'll be leaving in nine hours and needs her sleep. I watch her car as it turns the corner on my nearly empty neighborhood and praise God for having brought her into my life. She reminded me of what I truly wanted, and, as I saw her ache for her beloved Texas, of who I was. And I am grateful.

by Lorna Peden Watermancontributing writer for Fabulously40 

Member Comments

    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Yenni2 wrote Feb 13, 2008
    • Lorna,

      You truly have a gift for words! Though you are separated by a few states, you and Kim are only a phone call away. :)  

      Jen (bookstore lady)

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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Camashkai3 wrote Feb 14, 2008
    • Hey!  Those kitchen utensils were not cheap... but only because there were so many of them.  Don’t worry, I chunked half of them LOL!  I miss ya’ll so much, it was great to chat on the phone today...  Thank you so much for this kind article, it means a lot

      ::sniffle, sniffle::  (I’m not crying!)


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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Peejay64 wrote Oct 28, 2008
    • Wow.  This story really hit home for one who grew up in that same environment...everyone knowing everyone.  And now, as someone who has moved more times in 23 years, than my parents ever did.  

      We’ve been through 3 corporate relocations and have seen “friends” come and go.  The true friends, the best friends, are in different time zones!  It’s difficult to be the one left behind and it’s difficult to be the one leaving, too.  

      The most difficult lesson I’ve learned is learning who your TRUE friends are.  I’ve experienced some so-called friends totally drop us the minute the “FOR SALE” sign went up in our yard.  The one’s who say, “call me if you need me” and don’t mean it, or take it upon themselves to just show up to show you how much they care.

      I’ve also experienced some who have been the first to say “What can I do to help?” and really MEAN IT!  

      We’ve been blessed by the one’s who don’t care if you are in a different neighborhood, state, or country.  The one’s who will always be your friend and never let that special relationship fizzle out.

      I feel for you!  But don’t ever miss the opportunity to call, email, IM, text, or send a card to your faraway friend.  Let each other know how much your friendship is valued and always will be.

      This should be a lesson and inspiration to all of us!  


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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Peejay64 wrote Oct 28, 2008
    • Thank you for sharing this.  As someone who’s moved more times in 23 years than my parents ever did, I can totally relate!  I also grew up in a time & place where everbody knew your (last) name, where you lived, and what time you needed to be home for dinner!

      I’ve been blessed with some wonderful friends over the years and some who were so-called friends that immediately dropped off the minute the “FOR SALE” sign went up in our yard.

      We’ve lived where we are for almost 4 years and I can honestly say that when we move again, there is no one here that I would miss. Sure, I know my neighbors and have acquaintances here, but none (at least not so far!) that would leave a gaping hole in my heart if we left tomorrow.

      That said, we have some really wonderful friends from 1 and 2 relocations ago that we still keep in touch with, remain close to, and get to see at least once a year.  Each one of those people is such a gift and we treasure them.  They don’t care if we’ve moved across town, across state, or across country ~ as the case may be.  They are “there” for us if we ever need them.

      You are so blessed to have this friendship.  Please don’t ever miss out on an opportunity to call, email, text, IM, or send a card to let the other know what a blessing she has been to you.

      Thanks again for sharing!
      ~ Patti

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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Peejay64 wrote Oct 29, 2008
    • Okay, not to be a stalker or something...but I apologize for the double postings!  I thought I lost the first one, so I retyped another and thought I lost that one too.  The page came up as it was being “updating the site“, so I had no idea if it posted or not.  Sorry!

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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Jacquie6363 wrote Nov 5, 2008
    • How awesome.  As someone noted earlier, thank heavens for the internet.  This is surely an awesome means of communication.  Lorna you and Kim have a very rare and binding friendship.  I feel your pain and am in your shoes.  I have been away from my true home, in the Caribbean, for the past 25 years and one of my true and dearest friends still lives there.  Thank heavens for IM and Skype, we chat almost everyday and sometimes all day, when I am off from work or over the weekend.  Being in constant contact with her helps me to feel closer to home.  I visit my home every two years and she visits with me every two years, we alternate the years, so we actually see each other every year.

      Lorna/Kim, stay in contact, don’t let distance be a hindrance.  Good luck to u both.

            Report  Reply

    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Dana Arcuri wrote Nov 7, 2009
    • My best friend moved away 1 1/2 years ago and I still miss her so much.  Life truly does change when our girlfriends move away, but we still keep in touch by phone or email.  Once in a while, she comes back to Pittsburgh to visit and it is always so wonderful to see her again!

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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Blackfemale1953 wrote Mar 29, 2011
    • My closest friend moved from PA to GA three years ago, this May.....I can call, and email all I want, but my heart is still heartbreak because it just isn’t the I can relate.

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