It’s been a while since I reflected on the relationships in my life and the value they bring to me and my wellbeing. And in my quest for mindfulness and conscious presence in the life laid before me, I think now is as good a time as any for some reflection. I grew up in Houston, moved to Fort Worth for my first year of college, then to Austin for the rest. I studied abroad in Italy for a semester, then moved to Baltimore, and now I’m here in the SF Bay Area. While Houston remains my home base and the main hub where I see my family each year at Christmas, I’ve collected friendships in each of the places I’ve lived that contribute to my sweet, rich life on a very regular basis. I have friends I hold dear to my heart in every American time zone (and some abroad too!), and as I get older and life gets busier, maintaining these precious relationships gets harder and harder.
Growing Up – Or Should I say “Grown Up”
In the last … I don’t know, 3 years? 4 years? … I’ve realized that I’m actually an adult. Yes, I know, I’m 33. I’m a late bloomer that way I guess. My point is that I’m realizing that the life I make here in my new home of California is my actual life — the one I’ve chosen and continue to choose every day I stay — and I only get one. This isn’t a trial run, it’s the real deal. I never felt like I’d stay in Houston, in Austin, in Baltimore forever, and as a result, part of me always felt a little disconnected from where I was — maybe not fully present is a good way to describe it.
I knew I’d move on to find my true home somewhere else, and now that I’ve found it, I’m realizing that I really was connected to those places I left behind. I left behind real, true friends that I carry with me every day in my new home, and I find myself wishing they were here with me. It’s hard to replace those kinds of relationships as an adult. As people get married, have kids, become immersed in their careers, their families, their homes, their pets (I never said I wasn’t immersed too!), the challenge of creating new relationships from scratch becomes greater and greater. At least that’s true for me.
Not everyone is lucky enough to have lifelong friends as I do — keeping in touch through moves across the country, relationships, having kids, break-ups, make-ups, life’s little disasters, and the joys of every day can be a big challenge. But I have been that lucky. I’ve been lucky enough to keep a friendship that started when I was 4 years old long enough and strong enough for us to have been in each other’s weddings in the past few years. I’ve been lucky enough to sustain strong, solid friendships after break ups with amazing people whom I still call my very best friends today. I’ve held on to people I wasn’t sure would want me to when I’ve moved across the country, who’ve surprised me with their consideration and loyalty to our relationship. I’m so impressed with the people in my life, but sometimes it’s easy to take for granted.
This post is meant to honor the ones I love in every time zone, whether we talk every week or once a year for hours to catch up. But it’s also meant to recognize that I’ve been chasing relationships in my adult life that mirror these lifelong connections, and maybe that’s not very realistic. Maybe attempting to recreate friendships like these is the wrong goal altogether, and I need to redirect my energy to appreciating the newness of what’s in front of me.
Connecting to the Present Moment
Lately, I’ve been focusing so much on the past and the future that I’m missing out on what’s in front of me today, right now. My quest is to appreciate the people around me in more deliberate ways, to appreciate what I have, all the blessings, all the gifts of the universe. It’s true that my friends in every time zone are with me in my heart, but I need to wake myself up to the tangible world in front of me, to the relationships in my life with unrealized potential to flourish and nourish me as a real, bona fide adult person. I need to try harder to build strong foundations here and now, where I am today.
So my promise to myself and to friends new and old is to try harder. To apply myself to our relationships, to express gratitude to the people around me who enrich the life I’ve built.
Thank you for being you; thank you for making my life a better, richer one; thank you for teaching me something, for learning from me, and for valuing us enough to keep in touch.