Sunday, November 1, 2009

The psychology of leaving

I have a friend who has always dreamed of going to work in Australia. It was, of course, after she'd fallen in love that all the sudden the pieces, seemingly out of nowhere, fell together. She is leaving in a matter of months. I saw them on Friday, and although they are trying to just be together until she goes, there is this wall that has grown out of nowhere. It is like neither of them want to risk falling any harder, with the end so in sight.

I think she would stay if he asked her to. But he will never ask.


I sent off my first application on Wednesday. I thought it would feel cathartic, but it didn't. It felt like I had swallowed a ball of static electricity.


I put on a sweater this morning. The sleeves felt taut. It appeared to have shrunk in the wash.

I usually would find an excuse to keep it, telling myself I could wear it over a thin tank top, that the colour goes well with my eyes. Now I just want to get rid of it, telling myself that it is a waste of a hanger, that it would take up the space of something more useful in a moving box.


Things always acquire a different flavour when you know that there is a definitive conclusion coming, even if it is months away. I knew I wanted to leave my job, but it didn't seem particularly imperative. But now that I have officially given notice, everything about it seems grating. All the minute flaws are suddenly as subtle as sirens.

I'm trying my damnedest to go on living as normal as possible. After all, I always knew life here was never supposed to be permanent. But, still, with application deadlines looming, it has become a lot more difficult to not focus on the countdown. My friend starts talking about going to a haunted house next Halloween, when suddenly I realize I will not be here then.

I don't think it is just the fact that I will be somewhere else. I have always had a sense of my location as being temporary ever since what seemed like a traumatic move across the province when I was 10. I grew up knowing that ambition necessitated leaving my small home town. I knew grad school necessitated leaving the city where I did my undergrad. And I know internship requires leaving here, and that his PhD requires leaving my internship city, and then jobs will necessitate us leaving that city. As the cliche goes, the only real certainty right now is him and I and change.

But that not knowing is what tarnishes everything. It's not that I won't be here next Halloween, but that I don't know where I'll be. And as much as my mind tries to simultaneously make a plan for each of the ten places I could be, it's not the same.

It's not that I'm scared- I'm not. If I've learned anything over the past decade, it's that I am more adaptable and independent that most. I can't help but laugh at how stifling life would be if I had it planned out to the same degree as some of my friends, with their how many months they should date before marriage and then how many more months more until children. I like having faith that I can be happy without such a concrete plan.

I'm just having a hard time staying in the present these days.


Anonymous said...

That last line. Being in the present.

I wish I could put it in words about how much I understand the known fact that you'll be leaving at some point completely changes your perspectives on how you go about the rest of your life.

Because that's what I've been doing the past couple of weeks. Freaking out, not knowing where I'm going but knowing that I'll be leaving. What more, I know that moving for the 4th time in the past 7 years wouldn't mean much, but it still jostles everything; messes everything up.

I hope the both of us will figure out a way to be in the present soon enough; I'm sure it'll do us both some good :) Good luck.

Bayjb said...

ITA with you. I have a lot of trouble being in the present because I just always find myself worrying about what's coming up rather than dealing with right now.

Also, that's quite a first bit about your friend and Australia. I can't imagine how tough that is for her and the guy.

Surfergrrl said...

While I can offer no words of comfort, I can say I empathize with your situation. Everything about the future is so vague except clearly one thing, that it will indeed change. I'm really curious to see where you'll end up!

Ant said...

I've gone through this a few times of the past couple of years... only to come out the other end in exactly the same place. It's happened so much that I'm starting to pick up the message that I'm "settled" now (though just writing that makes me shudder!)

Keep the possibility open that you might not move in the end (unless you're actively trying to change that obviously).

Though if the annoyances are grating then probably change is very much good for the soul...

Katelin said...

i've had so much trouble staying in the present lately. i just keep thinking about what's coming up, what i need to do, what to plan, it's a little ridiculous. i think we all need a good reminder every now and then to tell us to stop and enjoy it now.

Ultra Toast Mosha God said...

The word verification on this comment was 'outsinc'.

Its almost apt, grammatically.

Caz said...

This is something I've been working on for a long time. (Being in the present, I mean.)

While I'm not moving anytime in the next while, I'm also not planning on being in Melbourne forever and it makes thinking ahead a year hard. It make you think "Is this worth the time/effort?" more often than you'd like to admit.

That being said, if your friend moving to Australia needs some contacts, let me know, I'd be happy to help!

Therapeutic Ramblings said...

I'm already months ahead, thinking about interviews....that will decide my next two years, and possibly where I will settle down. Ya pressure!