A piece of “there”

When we move around a
lot, we carry with us – in us – a piece of each place we leave behind. Each one of
these pieces is bigger at the beginning of a move and then, with time, it gradually
shrinks, becoming denser and more selective, until we end up keeping the best
parts, the ones that we look for in every new place. Reconciling these pieces
of “here” and “there,” finding the right balance – something like a mover’s
“Zone” – is one of the challenges of every transition, particularly in the
beginning, when the piece of “there” that we have in us is almost as big, if
not bigger, than the piece of “here.”
I read an article a few
months ago by a writer who moved from New York to New Orleans and now divides his life between the two cities. He talks about transitions and their impact:

“It’s so exhausting to execute this transition – the logistics, the money,
the time. When you enter a new space, even a hotel room, you fill it with your
spirit. When you go back and forth, you have to do a lot of spiritual putting
out.”

We are going back to
Vienna to visit in a few weeks – something we have promised the kids since the
day we left, last summer. Everyone is excited about this trip and yet, in the
back of my mind (of course!), I am wondering what impact it will have on their
adjustment process. Is it too soon for such a visit? Will it be a step back? Seeing
their friends, spending a day at their old school, “crashing” soccer training,
revisiting all their favourite places – will all that fill them with nostalgia and make
them want to move back? Or will they feel distant and removed, immersed as they
are in their new life? When they meet their friends, will it be like old times immediately
or will they feel disconnected?
Here’s another excerpt
from the same article:

“It may be that the last myth of childhood to which I still cling is the
myth of friendship, and it is in the realm of friendship that I find these
transitions between cities most complicated. The New Yorkers miss us at first
when we leave, and greet us warmly when we return. In between, they have lives
of which we are not part…We have come to look on our New York friendships like
hothouse flowers, lovely indulgences in need of sun and water.”

When the author is in
his new home in New Orleans:

“…And yet there is suspicion. Our friends here are happy to see us but
never entirely trust us. They don’t believe us to be a permanent fixture of
their lives.”

The experience of friendships growing
apart, whether due to distance or other reasons, is part of every child’s life.
It is almost a natural process. As adults, we are much better equipped to deal
with the disappointment, but we are also relatively powerless to
help our children understand why this happens or teach them how to deal with it.
It would take a massive transfer of life experience to do that. We can teach them, however, that it is
not an unavoidable process. We can show them, by our own example, how one
applies those “gardening” skills the author mentions; how one maintains friendships
and helps them grow.
I’m curious how it will
turn out for them, but know that, whatever happens, it will be an invaluable
learning experience.
[This is the article: “In-Between
Days,” By Thomas Beller, Talk/The New
York Times
, May 2, 2012].

One Comment

  1. Anonymous

    IT all depends on expectations: if you put too much thinking and worry about how kids will react to their visit: then the return may mark thme more. If you go with the flow and not pack in too much then you may have a more positive outcome. I remember that I used to regularly go back to london after I left in 2001: it actually had a negative impact on me. I would pack in a crazy marathon of a timetable and return totally depressed- I had changed and my friends couldnt relate. Now I dont need to go back regularly. once every quarter is fine: I just go with the flow and I enjoy it so much more..

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