No (Wo)man is an Island

Saturday, November 30, 2013

This was a weird time to move back to Washington, D.C. By Monday, when I was finally settled enough to want to see people, there weren't many people in town to be seen, thanks to the fast-approaching holiday. I had drinks in Adam's Morgan with newlywed friends that first night & grilled cheese sandwiches at Tryst with another friend on Tuesday, & I worked from my old office all three days before the long weekend, so there were familiar faces to be seen & Starbucks-&-gossip breaks to be taken.

Still, it's been feeling more like a vacation & less like a relocation. Holiday travel has kept me from seeing many of my closest local friends, & to top it off, this week revealed some annoying (though ultimately meaningless) gossip about me that left me feeling like a lepery loser. Dramatic as it sounds, that nasty combination of social barriers resulted in my spending a large portion of my first days back wondering whether I have any friends here at all. More than once, I spiraled into a dangerous mental rabbit hole: "Why did I come here? Does anyone love me? Guess I'll go eat worms. I made the worst decision ever." (I told you it was a little dramatic, but transitions are difficult, OK? And I am a fragile flower.)

But then I start thinking of all the people who helped me get here, all the friends who went out of their way to be friends to me - people near & far who reached out to me in a billion different ways, letting me know they cared about me & supported me & were rooting for me. How dare I lament the absence of friendship in my life, when the last two months have shown me that I have more people in my corner than I'd ever realized?

And so, in the slightly belated spirit of Thanksgiving - & to remind myself of all the incredible people who grace my life - I want to take a minute to thank you.

Yes, you.

You, who said to me in passing, "You're an adventurer," & believed without an iota of doubt that it was true, even when I didn't.

You, who helped me look for apartments & furniture, who answered all my questions & addressed all my anxiety-driven worries, who painted a picture for me of what life could be like upon my return.

You, who recently decided your life's calling was to travel the world & who reminded me, whenever I thought I wasn't strong enough, that I, too, was brave enough to make big changes.

You, who broke up with your longtime girlfriend & struggled to regain your sense of self, who reassured me that I, too, could strike out on my own and not just survive but flourish.

You, who talked me down from the scariest panic attack of my life, who reminded me that we all go through periods of upheaval & that I just had to make it through today.

You, who checked in with me by phone or by text or by Gchat or by email, nearly every single day for a month, to be sure I wasn't falling apart like I continuously threatened to.

You, who I hardly know but who has a knack for taking care of strangers in need, who taught me the power of meditation & drinking games & relentless belief in myself.

You, who were worried by the tone of my vague tweets & sent me a private message to be sure I was doing OK, to offer support & suggestions.

You, who read my blog post announcing the move & sent me an email of support & concern, despite the fact that we hardly know one another.

You, who checked in periodically to ask, "Are you here yet?" & who offered to to help me shlep furniture in your SUV and bring over burgers & beer after I got settled.

You, who brought over bananas & and Pop Tarts & a block of cheese on my first day alone in my new apartment to tide me over until I could make it to a grocery store.

You, who organized a dinner with our mutual friends on my first night back so I wouldn't sit alone, wallowing, & who followed up when I tried to ignore the invitation to, well, wallow.

You, who took me out for drinks & offered me your old pots & pans to populate my empty kitchen cabinets, who invited me over for beer & friendship & cable & continued support.

You, who whispered to me in quiet, sincere confidence after my first two days in the office, "I don't know if I've told you how glad I am that you're back."

There are so many of you: you who left a comment on my blog post; you who sent me a quick text of good luck; you who reached out to make return plans or just to welcome me back. You - all of you - who reminded me that you care about me & that I am strong & that change can be positive.

On Sunday, I'll return to D.C. after a long weekend with friends in Virginia, & my social calendar will be waiting for me, more populated than its been in a long, long time. There are Hanukkah parties to attend, drinks to be drunk, movies to be watched, & lunches to be eaten, all with people whose presence & friendship enriches & brightens my life immeasurably.

Today, when I changed my Facebook profile to reflect my move & pressed "save," this is what it showed me:

Eighty-seven people in the District who I know & presumably love, plus countless others afar. How dare I feel lonely or alone for even a minute?

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