We were trying to play a game the other night, but the problem was that I didn't really want to play because I had a billion other things to do and Andrew wasn't really paying attention because he had a billion things to do as well, but we were both trying to be good sports and play anyway. But then I got frustrated and expressed my frustration and some teenagey members of our household got annoyed that I got frustrated and refused to talk or look at me and Andrew wasn't helping diffuse the situation because he was busy thinking about data and so I put down my cards and announced I wasn't playing anymore...because why should I stick around to play a game where no one is talking to me? I have other things to do, thanks. And then the teenagery people stormed off to the basement, slamming as many doors as possible and Andrew was left sitting at the table like, "What?"
So I had to collect myself and go talk to the teenagery people.
One revealed that, like everything, it was more than the game. It was that she was so lonely. She didn't make friends at school last year. We got split off the ward where she had quickly made friends. And then got split off from the stake they were in. So now they feel like they are on another planet. And her one friend in our ward just told her that her parents are divorcing and she's moving to Utah with her mom. And we haven't gone anywhere or seen anyone in a year. And none of her friends understand this and they're all really bad at writing back to her. And she doesn't even have any cousins because she was born in what we call "the cousin hole." And...she just didn't want to have any tension in our house but then there was because I got frustrated (which, like, testimony to me that I don't get frustrated very often, I guess). And...
So I told her that her Utah friends are dumb.
I mean, they're amazing kids. Rachel has always picked the most amazing people to befriend. She's good at picking people. But they're just so naive. "They have no idea what it feels like to miss everything," I told her. "They only know what it's like to miss you. But they still have everything, so while they do remember to think about you sometimes...it's not everything for them. You miss everything. And that's harder. And they don't get it."
At least, a lot of them don't.
Like that girl who got up in our Spanish Fork ward and spoke about how hard it was for her family to uproot themselves and move so far away from friends and family and everything she knew and how out of place they felt and...turns out they had moved from Provo. No offense, lady, but...you can walk to Provo from Spanish Fork. You can still see the same mountains. It's literally right there. Was it a change? Sure. Yes. But, like, honestly, you're not missing out on family dinners at Grandma's...you're just driving for fifteen minutes to get there instead of walking down the street. You're gonna be fine.
That girl doesn't get it.
Rachel's friends don't get it.
It's not unique to Utah.
I guess moving all the time simply isn't a thing a lot of people do? About 40% of Americans report living in their hometown...just...like...forever. Nearly two-thirds of American have never lived outside of their home state. And I just don't think they get it. They don't know how to support those people who leave because...they've never left everything.
So they're dumb (but not dumb; just naive).
And we can't make them write back, unfortunately (though we did work on our texting skills a bit because, as it turns out, a prompt like, "Hey! I heard you got a new puppy! What's her name?" is much better at generating a response than a prompt like, "Sup?") because they have lives and friends are just like that, sadly. They come and go.
"I know!" Rachel wailed. "But I don't even have cousins to write to! Like Miriam writes to Alice and it's not fair!"
To be fair, Alice and Miriam don't write. They send Marco Polos (little video messages) back and forth. But, it's true. Alice is always eager to Marco Polo with Miriam. That child would never have to be lonely because Alice would chat to her all day if she could, showing off her adorable ducks and so forth. And Rachel really hasn't had that with anyone.
"But you do have cousins," I said.
She doesn't. I mean, she does. But they're all either babies themselves (hello, Emily and Jacob's kids) or literally about to have babies (hello, Rosie...and Amy...who has three kids). Rachel is not a baby, nor is she about to have a baby (thank goodness) so she just feels kind of rotten in the middle and I totally can't blame her for that. She doesn't have many cousins her age who are into the same sorts of things she's into...so thank goodness for second cousins.
"You have my cousin Heather's kids. And Sara Beth's—remember Anna? And Dad's cousin Jessica has a bunch of girls your age. And..."
"Will you write to them to ask if they will write to me?" Rachel asked.
"You bet I will," I said.
So I got her all hooked up with some cousins on FB messenger (she and Leah have sent something like 100 messages back and forth already (Leah's family just moved in the middle of the pandemic, so she gets it)) and then my cousin Sara Beth (who, honestly, is actually my second cousin so her kids are Rachel's third cousins, but Heather and Sara Beth were born in a bit of a cousin hole, themselves, so they depended on second cousins to fill that gap; Heather was one of my best friends growing up (Sara Beth's a bit older but our kids line up pretty well))...anyway, Sara Beth was like, "Do your kids play Minecraft? Because my kids are on there all the time and would love to invite Rachel into their world..."
And I was like, "No. But at this point I'm willing to try anything, so give us the weekend and we'll figure it out."
Rachel was interested in Minecraft years ago, back when we lived in Durham and were so poor that Christmas came 100% from Trading Tables. She begged us to look into Minecraft and we even downloaded a free trial once but...the thing cost like $30. *whistles in poverty* We couldn't afford $30! On a game!
From that moment on, Minecraft just felt like a luxury we couldn't afford. So even after we got a job that pays in actual money (rather than "experience") we continued to feel like Minecraft was too bougie for us. Even after Andrew splurged and got the kids a Nintendo platform for Christmas last year, somehow Minecraft felt like too much. I floated the idea of getting the kids Minecraft for Christmas this year but I don't even think we looked at the price because "do you remember how expensive it was?!"
Guys, the app for a handheld device is $7!
Of course, we didn't really have handheld devices when we lived in Durham so we were looking at the computer version. But still. It's $30.
So we've been getting ourselves set up on Minecraft and have cousins coming out of the woodwork to play with us—Gavin plays Minecraft and Michael plays Minecraft and...why didn't anyone ever persuade us to try Minecraft earlier? We haven't quite managed to get a Minecraft playdate set up (there's evidently a learning curve of sorts) but we're hoping to get the kids on with some Washington cousins tomorrow evening.
So tonight, even though I still feel melancholy (me-LON-cull-ee, as Emily would say), I'm very grateful for cousins and second-cousins and even third-cousins who help us feel a little less like we're falling apart. Because friends come and go, but family...well, those you're stuck with.