We’ve always talked about moving south. Ever since we started dating. Before that even. The thing is, talking is way different than actually doing. You romanticize the experience and think it’s going to be the best thing that ever happened to you.
Then, the moment came when a job offer was on the table, I just had a baby 3 weeks ago, and my husband is calling me from work pressuring me for an answer. It wasn’t a hard decision – of course we’re going to move, we’ve always wanted this! In the back of my mind, I was really nervous.
As the days moved forward, I got even more nervous and finally cried about it to our marriage counselor. She said “you know what I would do don’t you? I would go!”
One of my biggest concerns was moving away from all of our closest friends when we were at such a transitional time in our lives. We just had a baby! I needed all the support I could possibly get!
Sitting here a year and a half later, I can honestly tell you that moving away was one of the best decisions we’ve ever made. Our new North Carolina town is only 7 hours away from Pennsylvania now, but the difference it has made in our stress level and the closeness it’s brought to our friendships is impossible to measure.
When we moved, I thought we’d never see our friends again. I’m an all or nothing kind of person and expect the most extreme result, no matter the situation. We were only moving 7 hours away! Of course I would see them again!
What I didn’t expect was how our friendships would be impacted.
We’re actually closer with most of our friends back in Pennsylvania now. When we make the 7-hour drive home to see them, everyone clears their schedules just for us.
A perfect example: Two of our closest friends have 3 kids together. Their kids are always involved in sports and keep the family incredibly busy on the weekends. It was really hard to schedule a get-together with their crazy schedule when we lived only an hour from them.
Now, when we go home, we know we’re going to see them. When you live close by, you assume there will always be time to get together. When we moved away, we realized how little time we actually have to dedicate to time together, so we make the most of what we have.
We wake up first thing in the morning at our hotel, drive an hour to their house (with my husband giddy in the driver’s seat) and pull into their driveway around 9 or 10. We don’t leave until close to midnight when everyone is about to fall asleep.
I can honestly say that the time we do spend together now is true quality time. We value every minute of it and are sad to leave.
The same is true with all of our other friends. We’ve spent the weekend at one of my girlfriends’ houses with her and her new husband. We sat around a fire one night just talking and catching up. We had an even better time together than we expected.
Somehow, after moving away, we’ve realized how incredibly valuable our friendships are.
Not long after we moved to North Carolina, we got the heartbreaking news that one of my coworker’s had just learned that her husband was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. Something I can say about my coworkers is that they aren’t just friends, they’re family. Even a year after I left the company, I’m still in close contact with them. When they hurt, I hurt.
This past April, her husband passed away. We loaded up the car, drove 7 hours with me very pregnant and with a fussy toddler, but we made it to that funeral. We wouldn’t have missed it. If we lived in California and had to drive or fly cross-country…we would have.
My point here is that it’s currently 2016. We have gas stations on every corner, airports in every major city, and public transportation all over the place. If you move away and get too homesick, it might set you back financially, but you CAN get there. You can always go home again. And when you do – the friends you left behind will be more than happy to see you.
The key is to maintain your friendships while you’re away. In today’s day and age, there’s no excuse not to. We have cell phones with us 24/7, we have Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat…you shouldn’t miss a beat with your friends. Face-to-face is always best, but there are tons of ways to keep in touch when you can’t be together.
Take advantage of social media for those who are closest to you. Don’t get so wrapped up in it that you don’t see the world around you. I know someone like that and he is literally missing out on his life because he’s too involved in the internet. I’m talking about using Facebook and your cell phone for good, quality, conversation when you can’t be face-to-face.
I actually used to keep a list of people on a post-it note on my computer monitor. It reminded me to reach out to them when it felt like it had been too long since we last spoke. Life gets hectic sometimes and it’s far too easy to let great friendships slip away.
As long as you tend to your friendships from afar, you’ll have even stronger friendships to go back to when you visit. Trust me. Spread your wings and go where you feel drawn to go. Just go back now and then to remember where you came from and to see those who shaped you into who you are.
Our friends truly are our chosen family. We spend our holidays with our friends in Florida. We call our friends first when I have our babies. We don’t have close relationships with our families and have more than made up for it with true friendships. If we can venture away from our friends and maintain those ties, anyone can.
This whole experience has taught me to not fear change so much but to just embrace it. Who knows if this change is going to be amazing for us. If it’s not, we can always go back. It might take some doing, but we can go back.
In North Carolina, we’ve found even more amazing friends that we hope to always keep in touch with. Now, because we’re slightly insane and have no concept of roots, we’re contemplating yet another move.
All I know is that wherever we end up, we have each other, and everyone else is just a phone call away.
Did you move away from your comfort zone? How do you maintain your friendships while you’re away? Do you have any regrets? Let me know in the comments!