I actually missed the anniversary date.
That in itself is a sign of progress, I think.
August 10th, two days ago, marked two years since we moved to Florida.
Last year, I marked this date with a resignation and acceptance of homesickness.
This year, I spent the day working from home, my boss and best friend sitting on my living room couch and my two children watching cartoons. The four of us had lunch at the local Ruby Tuesdays. The evening was spent watching TV and getting caught up with writing assignments.
The day was entirely unremarkable.
I was sitting in the waiting room of a doctor’s office when I realized the date had passed. I was updating forms and double checking addresses when I noticed the Emergency Contact. Adam Avitable. It had been over two years since I’d had to name an Emergency Contact for my kids and realized that my options were painfully limited. I had listed Adam’s name because he was the only person I would know in this strange, far away land of winter without snow.
“Huh,” I thought. “It’s been two years since we moved.”
Not “packed up and moved 1400 miles away from everything and everyone we knew”.
I spent months describing our move that way. It sounded as dramatic as it felt. We moved away. From everything. And everyone. We left behind. Anything we were headed toward was barely a footnote.
And now, two years later, those same words sound silly inside my own head. “My God, Britt,” I chuckled at myself as I recounted my earlier dramatics, “you fucking moved. People do it all the time.”
And they do.
People pick up and pack up and move away. They move on. They move forward. They sprawl and spread and set out on their own. Because it’s just what people do.
And at the time, it feels like they are the very first ones to take that step. It feels like life is suddenly one long good bye and no one in the history of people leaving has ever felt good bye quite as deeply as you do.
And then you wake up one day and realize that you are no longer saying good bye. You can’t remember when you stopped looking back or exactly when this new place became your new home. Maybe it happened among the working or the commuting or the laundry or the dishes. Perhaps you missed it among the dinners and the birthday parties and the trips to Disney World. But all of a sudden, you’re sitting in a doctor’s office preparing your kids for another school year, and you realize – well, shit, here I am.
Here I am.
I live in a constantly messy house that I absolutely adore. I spend my time between work and family and friends. I fight with my husband and worry about my kids. I call my mom for advice on both. My life is at once totally different and pretty much the same as it was right before two years ago.
I stared at the Emergency Contact box on my paperwork for a moment.
I ran through the list of names I could scribble in it. Hilly is close and I know she’d drop anything if my kids needed her – and the sight of her would offer them comfort and relief. Our friends, Courtney and Memo, would also be willing and able to step in for us if needed – in much the same way they will be doing next week to cover my ass. Faiqa and Tariq, too, could be counted on – so long as she wasn’t giving birth at the time. A few more names of those nearest and dearest to us ran through my head, and I couldn’t help but smile at the difference that two years had made.
Here I am.
And I am neither alone or lonely. I’m not afraid. I’m not looking back. I’m not longing for what was.
I’m no longer saying good bye.
It’s taken two years, but I’m here.
And my Emergency Contact is Adam Avitable.
God, help me.