Leaving Home, Friends For Love

Katie Young
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Wednesday - September 12, 2007
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I imagine it must have been extremely difficult for my mother to pick up and move from Detroit, thousands of miles across an ocean, to live in Hawaii after she and my father were married.

She arrived here in 1969, not knowing anyone but my father and her in-laws - her own parents and friends so very far away. She never spoke of any difficulty in adjusting but now that many of my own friends have moved out-of-state in the name of love, I’ve given the subject some serious thought of my own.

Granted, these days we live in a very mobile society. According to one Internet statistic, approximately 14 percent of the population moves annually.

People will move for many reasons: a better job, a calmer pace of life, to be near family, for warmer weather, or to be with the one they love.

For those who fall in love and get married and spend a lifetime in the place where they both grew up, a relationship can still be difficult enough to maintain.

But for a couple who are from different places and get married and need to find a place to call home, well, many more factors get added to the mix.

It might sound all wonderful and romantic at the beginning - you’ll spend quiet evenings at home making dinner, enjoy every waking moment together, and explore your new surroundings, finding excitement in everything you do and see.

My friend, Camile, moved clear across the country for her man, who recently got a job offer in his old hometown. In her mid-30s, Camile thought her boyfriend of two years, Stan, was going to be the one. This is why she thought it was a sacrifice worth making to leave her family and friends in Hawaii, as well as a career she had worked hard to establish, to go to a place she knew nothing about.

Those first two months Camile was in her new city were not exactly the romantic picture she had conjured in her mind. Stan adjusted easily to his new job and made new friends quickly. In addition, Stan’s parents and many of his friends still lived close by.

Camile had no friends, no job and most nights felt lonely and bored. She thought she would enjoy a couple months of relaxation before finding a new job, but she found herself increasingly anxious and restless.

This led to many fights between Camile and Stan, who couldn’t figure out why Camile felt so out of place.

“You have me,” he’d say, trying to reassure her. “Isn’t that enough?”

But that’s just it. It wasn’t enough for Camile. She needed something of her own - a job, some friends, some hobbies. Because her entire being was wrapped up in Stan, his every move affected her every mood. When they argued, she felt she had no place to go to cool off, no one to turn to except friends over the phone.

It was hard for Camile to explain to Stan why she felt so alone, even when he was there.

“It would be different,” she told me, “if neither one of us knew anyone here. Then we would both be in the same boat. But right now, I’m on his turf. This is where he grew up. He has all these memories here, all these old friends and his family.”

Being on Stan’s turf made Camile feel uneasy. It’s not that his friends or his parents weren’t nice to her - in fact, they were great.

But this was a major life change, and Camile was struggling to find that balance she had created for herself back in Hawaii. While she desperately loved Stan and planned to spend the rest of her life with him, she knew in her heart that it was unhealthy for him to be the only person in her life in the new city.

For the first two months, Camile wallowed in her restlessness mostly because she didn’t understand what was wrong. But the moment she decided to create her own “turf” in the new city, things changed for the better.

It took some conscious effort not to get stuck in the trap of relying on Stan for everything. It took even more effort at the age of 35 to go out there and try to make some brand new friends.

First, Camile found a job. Then, she found a couple of new hobbies. Now, she’s enjoying a balanced life in an exciting new place of her creation. And evenings at home making dinner with Stan are all the more enjoyable because of it.

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