I recently received a congratulations email from LinkedIn. It was marking the two-year anniversary of when I started working for the CPA firm. I had in the back of my mind that I moved back up here in November, but really hadn’t connected the dots that it has already been two years.
When I decided to leave California, the main factor was to be close to my family again. As the decision came in late summer/early fall, the target became to be back by Thanksgiving. I see Thanksgiving as that perfect family holiday. There are no cursory traditions that seem like requirements. No presents to buy, cards to exchange, services to attend – it is just a day to spend with family and give thanks for all the wonderful (and even not so wonderful) things and people in your life.
It was difficult to say goodbye to everyone in San Diego. People I knew before moving down became deeper friends, and friends became family. What would it be like now that we couldn’t just meet for a drink or share an impromptu dinner? Well, it would be like what happened when I moved away from my set of Washington friends, and I knew how hard that had become.
For all the knocks against Facebook and other social media, it does give you a tether into the lives of those that you care about. Even if they are just a few towns over, lives can get so busy that it is difficult to coordinate a meeting in person. For those that are too far away for a quick visit, it can feel like a lifeline.
But of course, it can be and feel superficial. Lost are the deeper discussions about the sort of things that don’t make the highlight reel. One friend over Facebook suggested making every tenth posting about something you’re less likely to share. A problem that crept up, a struggle that has been nagging, or just a feeling of sadness that you can’t trace to its source. Most find it difficult to reach out in this way in person, so doing it online is that much more of a barrier.
Now that I am back, in some ways it feels like I was never gone. I don’t know how common it is, but I feel very fortunate to have friends that I can sort of pick up where I left off. Many I have known for the better part of twenty years, and most can be traced back to one of two restaurants – McDonald’s or The Keg. I assign this closeness and longevity to working together in that sort of job. My mom recently commented how fortunate it is that I had these kinds of friends. She thought it was because of the type of person I am, but she may be a bit biased.
Of course I was gone, and I feel like I was a bit different when I returned, but my friends welcomed me back with few questions asked. It is a true blessing. It may be presumptuous, but I feel like my California friends would be the same way. They are those sorts of cherished people as well, friends that are family.
I met up with some friends over the weekend. On Friday it was with some in the twenty-year class that I don’t get to see nearly enough. There was so much to catch up on, but much of the feeling was communicated in the long hugs of greeting. On Saturday and Sunday, it was with people I have known for only a couple of years, but we already consider ourselves a biking “family”.
My actual family (you know, those that I am related to) is amazing. Growing up, we saw our extended family almost every month, to gather for a birthday or some other occasion. As time passed and the kids were having their own kids, we reached some sort of critical mass, and the monthly gatherings fell to a few times during the year. We still gather for a week in eastern Washington, though we missed out for the first time in decades this summer when the river ran dry.
A couple weeks ago, we came together to celebrate an 80th birthday, and it was a room filled love and conversation. Sure there is a little familial obligation anchored by holidays, but there was no question that we all were excited to see each other after too long a drought. We not only love each other, but we really like each other as well.
I have tried to see friends this week to extend the Thanksgiving holiday. I miss seeing everyone face-to-face for those deeper moments and connections. I need to find a way to get down to San Diego for a visit. To grab that drink, to walk the beach, or run that race. To connect like family.
Family that are friends, and friends that are like family. For this I am truly thankful.
Happy Thanksgiving everybody.