A Different Journey

Leaving San Francisco for Boston in January inevitably means leaving people behind, friends I have made over the past eleven years. Good friends will remain good friends. They always have in my life. And with Adam here in Oakland my returning to the Bay Area is certain, and likely frequent. My close friends will stay close in my orbit.

Still, many friends will be left behind, and in time fade into people I once knew.

I often think about the sets of friends I’ve made here, associated with chapters of my life, the circle of friends that came with EL for example—people I saw all the time for a year or two, and then never again. They were friends of hers, and I was merely the accompanying guy, the guy who came along with her, never the main event.  A few I thought were actually my friends, too, or came to be. They didn’t last, even when we had other connections outside of my relationship. A few were disappointments.

It’s entirely my decision to leave, to go back East as they say here. I could stay, and have reasons to stay. While I believe my decision to move to Boston is the right decision for me now, I’m apprehensive. It’s another new start, a beginning when I thought I was on a path of forever ending, of spending my years together with the woman I married, the woman I loved, in this city by the Bay. I never contemplated a different journey.

Is it her fault? The rupture to my life’s plan was not my decision. It was entirely hers. Maybe we could call her the combustible spark, the explosion that blew up my life. My decisions after that ending are mine.

A large piece of my decision to move away is to be away from her. I don’t think she understands this. We have too many points of possible intersection, too many friends in common, the South End, shared likes. I thought I might be able to be “friends.” I haven’t seen her for two months and as the weeks pass the thought of seeing her upsets me. I don’t want it. I was in our old shopping neighborhood today and before venturing into our favorite grocery store I carefully checked out the aisles before wandering around. I’m not going back there again. There are two occasions coming in December where I could see her, and one I will definitely avoid even though my presence is requested. I don’t need the reminder of the hurt and dislocation she has inflicted.  I’m fine without it.

Yet, to move away from her, I also move away from many friends who have become part of my life here: my guys at Cow Hollow; my friends at the South End. Friends I’ve made though work. Maybe I use the term “friends” too loosely. My wife often corrected me when I would refer to someone as a friend, and she would say, no, he’s just an acquaintance. I know, even as her husband, I had “no equity.” She told me so.

I look back at all the friends I’ve had and lost, people, now, I just once knew. I guess that’s the way life is, or at least contemporary life. We don’t stay in one place. Relationships are unstable and don’t last. Commitments aren’t commitments. There’s no social glue; many weak ties. No love that’s true.

On a brighter note, I’ve discovered through this year’s unwanted experiences—the end of my marriage, Adam’s cancer—that my true friends, wherever they are, are truer than ever. Time and distance have no relevance. I am immensely grateful to them. I am lucky to have them with me, now. They will remain with me always.

Maybe this is my future. My friends are spread out over the map of the world. I wish I could see them more often, and perhaps less encumbered I will be able to do so. Still, we are friends, real friends, more meaningfully than many whom I see all the time.

My world will grow larger.

It’s a different journey.

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