Thursday, June 17, 2010


When I was in 11th grade, we moved to India in the middle of the school year.

A nightmare, right? Most people looking back on high school can think of nothing worse than being the new kid, let alone the new kid in the middle of the year after class schedules, team rosters, routines, and friendships have been established.

But that's the thing about growing up and moving around in Foreign Service or military households, and going to diplomatic schools. You have this whole ready-made community wherever you go, made of up people that live the same kind of life. So every few years, you uproot yourself and leave the people and places that are familiar, but you're plopped into a new, often exotic place with like-minded (usually), and like-experienced people to create a new life with.

So in addition to being interesting and exciting, it just wasn't that hard. The communities tended to be small, and people were coming and going all the time, and it was always intriguing to learn that someone new was going to be arriving. Will they be cool? Will they be funny? Will they be good at sports? Will they be smart? New people had built-in buzz around them, starting well before they arrived.

So when we got to India, everyone was expecting me, and waiting eagerly to meet me. The first day of school, I was invited out by a group of people to go have ice cream after school. That weekend, I was included in all the big party plans. Within a week and a half, I knew everyone, and felt completely comfortable and included, like I'd been there forever.

It's too bad moving experiences aren't always like that. Because making good friends in a new city when you're a grown-up (and I still have a hard time thinking of myself that way) is hard.

Of the big moves I've made since leaving school -- Atlanta, Hawaii, and Denver -- Hawaii was certainly the hardest. Jason and I moved there not knowing a soul. We met some kindred spirits, made efforts at connecting with people, and left with a handful of good friendships, but it was really difficult. I felt incredibly isolated most of the time I was there.

And now we're in Denver. It's been almost a year and a half, but it's been a difficult time, with Jason gone so much and money being tight and everything in my life feeling so turbulent and crazy. I have good friends and some family here, but I don't get to see them as much as I'd like because it's so hard to organize everyone's schedules. I still feel like the new kid, trying to make this place feel like home.

I frequently fantasize about time travel. Like, if I could go back in time and change this event or that event, how would my life be different. Or, if I could snap my fingers and have one wish granted, what would it be, and what would life be like afterwards.

Winning the lotto would obviously be nice. But sometimes I think I'd choose having a ready-made community, like living in a kibbutz or something, where I feel accepted and welcomed and like I fit in. Because I haven't felt that way in a long, long time, and I miss it.


  1. I've never really found this in my adult life. In high school I was very into dance and my dance company was that community, but in college I was too determined to finish early and too serious. For a few brief, shining moments, my ex-husband and I had a group in Charleston, but otherwise, it seems I'm always working to build a group.

    Here's to finding it/figuring it out!

  2. I felt like I had it in Atlanta. I developed a really solid, tight group of girlfriends that felt like family. But I think that was lightening in a bottle -- unlikely to be recaptured.

  3. You know, I really just think that those times are few and far between. I had it in New York and on the first go'round in Atlanta, but...really I think the trick (and usually only realized in retrospect) is to really appreciate it when it's going on... I've been thinking lots of this same stuff lately. I miss you.

  4. Michelle L.7:28 PM

    Hey girl, I know totally how you feel. While I have fun co-workers and a good group of neighbor friends, things have not been the same since the girls night girls were all together in one place. Maybe it's being a homeowner and/or married, but even without any kids, schedules don't often mesh, money is less plentiful than before, and satisfying girl talk and hanging out are more elusive.

  5. Elizabeth and Michelle - miss you both. Mwah. xoxo