Sunday, May 07, 2017

Moving nerves (yes, already)

Today in sacrament a visitor got up to share his testimony—and to talk about the experience his family had in the six short, but memorable, years they spent in "the Durham ward" (there was only one ward back then). Hearing him speak made me tear up a bit.

He mentioned how the old-timers in the ward said it was difficult to invest time in relationships with the rambling students who blow in and out so quickly. It is also difficult for the rambling students to invest in relationships where they go. Your heart gets broken over and over again when it comes time to leave. But these relationships are so very worth it.

He lived next-door to an older couple who filled the role of parents for him and his wife, and grandparents for their children, and when they were getting ready to move, he remarked that he would never be able to pay back the kindness their neighbours had shown them. Their neighbour said that wasn't important—but paying it forward was. So he's tried to be that "spark" wherever life has taken him, reaching out to people, and so forth.

It was a touching testimony.

This evening Rachel was having a bit of a meltdown about our impending move. Our move is a temporary move. We have a one-year plan and then...who knows?!

"How" she asked, "do you make friends if you are just going to move in a year anyway?"

An excellent question with a difficult answer: it's hard...but put yourself out there and forge new relationships.

Fortunately, I relate to her very well.

I moved from Port Coquitlam, BC, to Calgary, AB, in the middle of grade four. It was so difficult to say goodbye to the friends I had know for years—since kindergarten! But we moved into a great neighbourhood and I immediately made friends with a girl across the street, Nadia, who happened to be in my same school and in our same ward (which I thought was so cool because I hadn't really ever had church friends at school).

We became fast friends. We were completely inseparable. We had sleepovers nearly every weekend. We wrote songs together. We played at the park together. We got beat up by her older brother together (he once threw crab apples at us because he thought it was funny and left welts all over us). We had so much fun together.

And mom got a job in High River and we decided to move there. We switched schools at the beginning of the school year (my grade five year) and just commuted with my mom every day until we moved (in late September/early October). And I had to say goodbye.

But sometimes when we had to go into the city for the day, my parents would drop me off at Nadia's house and we'd get caught up. And when we started attending the multi-stake youth dances we'd see each other and hang out. And then eventually my family moved again—much farther this time (to Utah) and I lost contact with Nadia until the invention of Facebook. But guess what? We're now Facebook friends and it's awesome. We chat about our kids (we had little boys in the NICU at the same time (though her little boy has a fatal congenital heart condition and mine does not, so...a little bit different) and then had little girls around the same time a couple of years later). It's great!

After telling Rachel that story and assuring her that we will find ways for her to stay in contact with her friends (a much easier thing to do these days than when I was her age, let me tell you), I told her to take a few deep breaths and go to sleep.

But I couldn't stop thinking about other people who have blown through my life but managed to make a lasting impact. Truthfully, I've kind of blown through life. When people talk about five years as "short term" I'm like, "Short? No. That's long." Staying in the same place for that long is, like, a major accomplishment. So I guess most of my friendships have been relatively "short-term," at least as far as the whole "you and I are in the same vicinity and enjoy each other's company" definition of friendship goes.

First up, high school. I went to high school for two years in Utah. So many of my good friends the first year I lived there were already seniors, so they left within a single school year of knowing them. But they were such great friends. I was glad I also befriended some juniors so I wasn't entirely starting over the next year...because I didn't ever really make friends my own grade. Oh, well.

So, some friends I knew for a year, some for two, before we were all moving on. But...they're all such great people (because I know how to pick them). Thank you, Krisit, Ryan, Matt, Joy, Becky, Cristina, Amanda, Marquita...

I'm in touch with some more regularly than others, but they're all very important people to me.

Then there's Emily. I don't think I would have survived my time in Russia if it wasn't for Emily. I love all my Russia gals, of course, but Emily is one of those people who's just always going to be in my life. всё. We met in January of 2004. We said goodbye in June 2004. But then she moved to North Carolina and then I moved to North Carolina, so that was nice. And then she moved away. And now I'm moving away. But, it will be okay because we're still friends.

Next up: Crystal and Bridget. Where would I even be without Crystal and Bridget? We were all trailing spouses on a summer abroad program to Amman, Jordan. Bridget was the assistant director's wife. Crystal and Jason (and their little boy Ezra) shared a flat with Andrew and me. I'm sure we were ridiculously annoying newlyweds, but somehow they managed to put up with us. These women and I have the kind of friendship where we can not see each other for years at a time and then pick up right where we left off. Maybe because we follow each other's blogs like crazy? I don't know. But I'm so glad I got to know them for the short time we were in Jordan together.

Stonewood friends: Matt and Bonnie, Maria, Lauren, Valerie, our downstairs neighbours Kim and Taber.

Egypt. Oh, man.

The Lewises are my favourite people in the world. They took us under their wing. They trusted us to babysit their kids for weeks at a time. They paid us for tutoring in milk and cheese and peanut butter. They had us over for dinner like once a week. When they moved, about a year after we met them, I cried like a baby because (a) I was pregnant, so...I can blame hormones, right? and (b) I honestly didn't know how we would survive without them (once again, I can blame hormones, right?).

I cannot believe that Jessica is home from her mission and is now married. 

The Fugates. The Houses. The Penrods. The Masons. The Schillings. The Sherwoods. The Catognis. The Lawrences. Phyllis Ali—her daughter Sarah (we went to her wedding and then she moved to Saudi Arabia and we still keep up). Caitlin and Lindsey. Jahee and Aden. Jill and Josh. Hayley. The Tuellers—goodness, their daughter Margaret visited them for a couple of weeks and we became friends in that amount of time and keep up with each other still.

So many people.

We were only in Egypt for two years and only overlapped with a lot of people for a year (or less), but it doesn't matter. These friendships run deep.

When we were back in Utah before we moved here, my visiting teacher, Wendy, trained for (and ran) a marathon with me. We really got to know each other and I really depended on her for support while we were there. Especially after Benjamin was born. I think she brought, like, three meals in. And she had seven kids...with twins on the way. She's a rockstar.

The Gillespies. The Valentines. Jessica. Maryann (Dr. O).

There are already many people in Durham who have moved on before us, but who certainly left a mark in our life.

I wouldn't be the person I am if these people hadn't been a part of my life. Every one of them has touched my life for good, has taught me something important, was there for me when I needed them to be or allowed me to serve them in ways that helped me grow.

Literally 0% of these people live close to me now, but 100% of them are still near and dear to my heart and, thanks to the internet—and Facebook, in particular—I'm able to keep up with them all, more or less (some more, some less).

Saying goodbye is hard, but there are ways to make distances seems smaller, and moving to a new place is such an adventure! Just think of all the new wonderful people to meet in the world (this coming from a sworn introvert, yes).

Moving is scary, but exciting, and exciting, but scary.

This time will be no different.

So, to answer your question, Rachel, friends are collectables (and collections can never be get too big—there is always room for more). You just invest in people as if you'll know them forever, as if you've known them forever (because maybe you have).

Not everyone will become your best friend—and that's okay. But odds are that someone will walk into the room and you'll make eye contact with them and instantly know, as my friend Sara (who I only "knew" for a year) told me, "We're going to be friends."

You will find the friends you need for the year. And maybe, if you're lucky, they'll end up being a lifelong friend.


  1. And that meshes nicely with the quote I put on my FB wall: “Quite a few years of life have strengthened my conviction that each and everyone’s existence is deeply tied to that of others: life is not time merely passing by, life is about interactions.” --Pope Francis

    Also, Melissa Dalton Bradford's dream about her deceased son in which she asked him what he had learned that he could share with her, and he kept repeating “Every relationship is to bring us to God.” See

    So, yes, Nancy, I think you nailed it. Investing in people. Best investment. Only investment that matters.

  2. I had a book as a kid, possibly about moving or traveling or something, and it talked about "little while friends" (and maybe long while friends?). Sometimes people are only your life for a little while, and that's okay. But sometimes they are around for longer and you find ways to keep it up even if distance makes it hard and that's great! I'm definitely grateful that you guys have not been little while friends! (And sometimes Facebook perpetuates friendships that probably should have been little while friends and then you feel weird about unfriending fhem later and that's a totally different story.)

  3. Someone must be cutting onions around here... :).

    I identify with this post very much! Moving is hard, but how lucky are we to have met so many amazing people?!?