when friends move away…again

a portion of this post appeared a few years ago

Every so often in your life you have people come along that you know are going to be around for the long haul. They are people that, after only spending a few times together, you know will help change you and challenge you in significant ways.

When Brent and I moved to Louisville after college, we had some pretty incredible friendships we were leaving behind. I was horrified at the thought of living in a city. I was lonely. I was scared. I was starting a new job. I was starting a new marriage. The friends I had spent four years pouring my life into in college were now scattered across the country like a tube of spilled glitter. We knew we were entering a lot of unknowns in our new city, but one thing that hit me really hard was feeling unknown. I am a social person by nature. I love good conversation. I love sharing meals with people. And I love being known. 

I sat in a small apartment all summer, sweating because I was afraid of what running the air conditioner too high would cost, and I felt so alone. I wouldn't leave the apartment because I didn't want to get lost. For awhile I didn't even have internet and I felt completely disconnected.  This went on for quite some time. I cried many a tear. And then we played on a little co-ed softball team with some of the interns that Brent was getting to know, meaning I actually was going to get to SPEAK TO PEOPLE! After our first ball game, we were all sprawling on the grass, stretching or pretending like we were stretching so the others would actually think we used our muscles [ha! I fooled them]. That's when it happened: This girl who spelled her name with an extra "A" came over to me [she wasn't even going to go to the trouble of fake stretching…I liked her already]. 

 "Hey," Meagan said "…" I don't know exactly what we talked about next but somewhere in there she said, "I know we haven't been married much longer than you guys but if you ever need to talk to someone when like, ya know, he leaves the shower curtain outside of the tub instead of inside or whatever, let me know." 

A week later I was driving home from school and Brent called, "Let's invite Meagan and Shane over for supper…tonight." My brain freaked out a little, thinking about figuring out what to make for supper and how to clean the apartment in the 2-3 hours I would have if we did invite them. But then, I thought about how lonely I had been in our little one bedroom apartment, how stressed I was with work, how big the city was, and I said, "Okay. Give them a call and let me know if it works." 

We were about to spin the dice. It could be awkward and uncomfortable, or we could potentially find some people to hang out with. Two and half hours later, fettucini alfredo was on the table, with some sliced apples and apple dip and there was a knock at the door. In they walked, and though it may sound terribly cliche to say, our lives haven't been the same since. 

I pretended to ignore Shane picking the onions out of the pasta, and we talked and talked and realized how similar our hometowns were, how much we had in common. We talked about WWII, and books, and then we cleared the table and walked the three feet to the living room. We were going to watch a movie, but that never happened because we were too busy talking. I laughed until I cried that night.  At one or two in the morning when they left, Brent and I knew we had found our "lifers." [I wrote about it the next day, because it made such an impact on me.] It's also important to note here that by the time we left Louisville we had made many other lasting and important friendships that we are equally thankful for to this day. There was no better place to be in, and no better people to be with, for us to start our marriage .  

Since then we have gone on vacations with them, we helped them move from Louisville, then we said goodbye as they moved to Delaware and we moved back to Missouri. We've celebrated holidays with them, we've traveled many hours to see them, and played many, many a card game with them. We've sat, rather cozy, four across on one of our couches to watch a movie and share a bowl of popcorn. We've crashed their hotel rooms when they travel anywhere near us, and we've held back the tears [or not] as one of us has always had to drive away.

After time, it was strange to realize we'd only actually lived in the same place for a period of about a year, and half of that time was unfortunately wasted, not knowing the goldmine of friendship waiting for us on the other side of the city. 

We'd grown accustomed to the distance, and it's amazing how it didn't hindered a thing. We could go months without talking, just staying connected via blogs, and a few texts here and there. And then one of us would get that aching feeling and the need to skype or do a marathon phone call.

We've always pestered the other about moving closer, or next door, or just moving in.

That is why, two years ago, when we got a phone call from them we weren't sure if we could actually believe them. They told us they were moving. This part was not a surprise as they move quite often [see above ;)], but then they told us where: the Kansas City area! They would be a little over an hour away, practically neighbors for all we cared, as Shane had taken a worship position at a church there. 

Two years ago they packed up their uhaul and drove and drove and drove. And then they were here. HERE! Well, sort of. An hour and a half away. But basically HERE! We thought it would never happen. I never wanted to live in Louisville, but it birthed several great friendships, and gave us Meagan and Shane forever. When we left we never thought we'd be able to just hop in the car and visit them for just a day. When we left we thought we were stuck with phone calls and long distance drives, and packed suitcase trips to maintain our friendship. 

And then they were here. And the past two years went so quickly. Meagan's photography business exploded [as it should have because she's so talented] and she was traveling a lot to meet clients, and Shane worked weekends and was gone most of the summer with student ministry stuff. We had a one year old.  Then that one year old grew and we had another baby. Needless to say, sometimes the one and a half hour felt a whole lot further away. But just knowing they were there? That was enough sometimes. 

And then a month and a half ago we got the news. Shane found a perfect job closer to their families. Further away from us. 

Yesterday they drove a moving truck filled with their stuff and their jeep filled with their dog a long way away from us. 

Six and a half years ago they came over for some fettucini.  Meagan was sick and then our house had stuff and we never got the big, last hang out we wanted or needed, but last week we said goodbye over some pasta at Olive Garden. And I am sad. But mainly I am thankful. 

I am thankful that I have friends who make me sad when they leave. I am thankful that I have friends who can make me laugh, or cry, or think. I am thankful that I have friends that drive 3 hours in one day and bring me a cup of coffee and sit on my couch for a few hours. I am thankful that I have friends who pray for me, and challenge me to step out in my faith in some way that scared me. 

I am forever grateful for the pictures Meagan captured of our family while she was here. 

I am thankful. 

I am thankful for this friendship and I know it will continue. I've written a lot about leaving before and it's hard to be the one staying sometimes too. Saying goodbye stinks. 

I wrote a piece in college about friendship, and in it I said: I now realize the beauty of moments with friends and how, when you let them happen to you, it's like letting a psalm happen to you. This happening fills your mouth and becomes prayer-- a deep kind of prayer-- a prayer that happens with every memory of a living room conversation. Open your mouth and He will fill it and things that are not prayer become prayer, and moments that are ordinary pierce us and fill us and we become holier because of them.

Meagan and Shane, 
Thanks for your friendship. Thanks for taking a chance on us and coming over to our apartment six and half years ago. Thank you for sharing the kind of friendship that becomes prayer. We love you guys and are excited to see what your next journey has in store. 

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Kelly K said...

This story reminds me of two other couples that you know very well-----------
right, Momma Carroll?

MW Photo said...

I did this, all the way through this post: :( :) :( :) :( :)


We are so thankful for EVERYTHING you have brought into our lives, especially two little girls who have my heart.

YOU are the best. :)