This year marks the second time I have moved away from my home sweet home. The first time I moved away from my hometown in Fayetteville, Arkansas. A place I had lived since the 5th grade and the place I will always call my native land, forever a Southern girl and Razorback at heart. I moved in 2008 after my husband and I married and he accepted a job in Sarasota, Florida. It was absolutely a tropical paradise for us as newlyweds with swaying palm trees, white sand beaches & even squawking parrots flying overhead. It was exhilarating to feel the freedom of anonymity! We could act however we wanted, we could go wherever we wanted. No one could judge my actions for being a “pastor’s daughter” or anything remotely responsible! It was like a constant vacation for a couple years.
Eventually we discovered that this anonymous thing wasn’t the most healthy thing for our spiritual lives or marriage so we became involved with our church. There we were able to plug in and get involved with small groups, meeting amazing people to “live life” alongside us. We both started making friends with people we worked with as well. Finding a career that inspired me allowed a special kindred spirit in the people I worked with. I have to say the friendships (or shall I say lack thereof) was the hardest thing about moving away from home. I am very close to my family and while I was enjoying my unbridled freedom my heart ached for someone to know me or to want to know me. See when you first move to a new place you feel like your single again. It’s like you back to dating- except this time it’s like your dating a friendship. Like when you meet a new (potential) girlfriend you secretly think, “will she be my new best friend??” ” Will she call me back??” “I wonder if she’ll invite us to her game nights??” I remember David coming home from work and me excitedly telling him- “I think I’ve met my Florida Tara!”(one of my closest friends from back home). I really feel like no one prepares you for what adult friendships will be like! No one taught me how to form friendships with complete strangers or people who I really had nothing in common with. Unfortunately I got rejected many times by female friendships and also friendships with other couples. (Now that’s a whole different story–friendships with other married couples! Umm confusing & frustrating process! I can save a whole post for that!) It was so difficult to get my hopes up every time I would meet a new girl. I soon began to realize that the friendships that I once had back at home could never be replaced. I feel like the second I understood that and allowed myself to be open to new, different people is when the true friendships started to form. Allowing myself to create completely new friends who were nothing like me- but added so much richness to my life. Then I had to learn to pursue the right people. People who had healthy relationships or marriages, or attended my small group or women who inspired me, or women who were rockstars at their careers or simply– made time for me. After 5 years of living in Florida I now feel like I have some of the closest, best friends of my life. Friendships that will last a lifetime. I can’t believe looking back how hopeless I felt about never finding friends ever again, and to see the result of connecting with others, spending time with the right people. I guess this post is more of a reminder to my (current) self that I can find friendships again. We’ve just recently moved to Fort Collins, Colorado because my husband found a new job. Leaving my Florida friends was like leaving my Arkansas family all over again. Incredibly painful. When I first came here I had the same mentality from when I first moved to Florida, telling myself, “I don’t need friends right now, I don’t have the energy to pursue friendships again.” And then of course the first church service we attend here at Mill City is “Being intentional with relationships.” DAH!!! So here’s to hoping the second time’s a charm and I find yet again, the meaningful friendships that I know I, and everyone else, so desperately needs.