Where I Belong

I am back from my latest visit to The Mitten, A.K.A. Michigan. On my drive there from Pennsylvania, I had plenty of time to reflect on our move, on the good-byes, on the progress that the kids had made adapting to our new city and their new school. I became afraid of the possibility of a regression on that progress.

We were back for the wedding of one of the best babysitters that we have had, so even just that event seemed so momentous. The world doesn’t stop moving just because you find yourself frozen in your current situation and longing for the past and the comfort zone that you just left.

With or without us, our friends “back-home” continue to meet new people and move on with their lives. While staying with some of our closest friends ever, they took a job offer that would transfer them to the West Coast. With or without us, even if we had stayed in our comfort zone, things would have also changed in our little world.

As I planned a jam-packed schedule of events and activities with the intention to see the biggest number of friends possible, I was so worried that hanging out with them would leave us sad and wishing we could return to the way things were. However, I found that instead, we took the opportunity to recharge, to reconnect and to ascertain that true friendship withstands distance and time.

We were all very happy to hang out with good’ol friends at the good’ol places in which we had bloomed over the past 16 years that we had spent learning to love Michigan and its lakes, beaches, cherry plantations and even its long and bitter winters.

Things were not always easy as a foreigner in a land that is not used to welcome that many of us. Sometimes I wished I had landed in a different place. But now I look back at my time in The Mitten as the greatest one so far. I met the love of my life there, we formed a family, we planted the seeds of friendship in many fields and now, at the time of harvest, we have seen that our bounty is plentiful.

There was a moment at a dinner with just women where I invited some of the closest of my friends to join me, when I felt it. All of the sudden, looking at them as if I had been an outsider, as if I wasn’t at that very table, I saw in each of them the many moments where we had supported and cheered each other on, the shared struggles and laughter. I saw them all interacting as if they were all friends for years and I realized that right there, at that time I had a place and a group where I belonged.

I left Michigan happy and fulfilled but also knowing that I had some friendships in Pennsylvania to continue to tend to and invest in. Maybe soon, I will surprise myself by feeling that I belong.

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