By my best approximation, I have moved 19 times in my 37 years on this earth. But a change of address is only part of the story.
Hiding behind a veil of sarcasm and self-deprecation, I kept people at arm's length so they would "know me" without really knowing me. If I gave people a caricature of me instead of the real me, it wouldn't hurt so badly if they rejected me. If I didn't try so hard, then it was my own choice to not be close to others instead of an attempt to distance myself so they'd never have a chance to see how truly flawed I am.
It is no way to live. Or, rather, it is a lonely, sad, forbidding place to live.
So I've had a long list of acquaintances that I've said goodbye to with each change of address and very few friends that I've kept in touch with. I thought that was okay. I thought I was okay with that.
We have lived in our current house for 6 1/2 years. This is the longest I have lived anywhere in my whole entire life. I've settled down here. I've grown roots. I've stuck around.
I walked into this house with an almost 4-year-old, a 1 1/2-year-old, and a growing belly housing Mr. Elliot. We will walk out of this house a family of six, with a 10 1/2-year-old, an 8-year-old, a 6-year-old, and baby Asher rounding out the family at 1-year-old. We've grown up here. We've made memories and friends and mistakes and joy here.
I've made friends that I will know and love for all of my livelong days. I've made friends that, for the first time in my life, make leaving feel really, really hard. Almost impossible on the sad days.
I feel like the richest woman in the world because, in living here this long and letting people in, I've gotten the chance to know some incredible people. Really know them. And I've given them the chance to know me. Really know me. I won't lose these friends when we drive away. I know it will be different with all of those miles between us, but I also know I'll keep most of them as always friends and I'll take the gifts that they've given me along for the rest of this crazy journey called life. Because of their love and acceptance, I'll feel safer to take risks with people and open myself up to all the pain and beauty that friendship has to offer.
We are made to connect. To be in relationship with others. To hold each other up when life is rotten. To toast each other's biggest accomplishments. To sit side by side in silence when words can't do justice to the sadness. To cheer in delight when life's sweetest moments abound.
I learned that all of that here. I can never thank my many teachers enough.