farewell to friends

The house is quiet except for the constant stream of traffic on our busy street. Double-paned windows muffle the noise of speeding cars and if I close my eyes, it sounds like waves crashing on the shore. The sun is speckled, peeking through the newly fallen clouds, reminding me to breathe. As one cloud passes, the sun appears for a brief moment, only to be quickly swallowed by another cloud. Nature is my life coach. 

Inhale. Exhale.

Inside this house, we’re tired. Tired of all the plans we’ve had to break and reschedule in the last three months due to changing deadlines, close dates and expectations dismantled by external sources. Practicing surrender, being grumpy, waiting, rushing ... asking our closest friends to dance around our indefinite departure date. A departure we, too, wonder if it will ever come. 

It will. Someday. Hopefully. 

We hatched the idea of traveling the world during the first weeks of our relationship 12 years ago. It has been a longtime dream, always “out there,” in the future. The star we hitched our hopes to when life was turbulent or boring. “Someday” we’d tell ourselves, “we’ll be living moment to moment in lands of unfamiliarity.” And now, were finally on the precipice of our big leap. We made the first step into the unknown by listing our house a few months ago in a “hot” market, which cooled as soon as we dipped our toes in. We rolled with it, even though my job ended in July and my husband closed his business in May. Now, three months beyond our original departure date, we’re antsy.

Our current close date is October 7th. 

While we have deep gratitude and a sober perspective of how fortunate we are, we’re running low on energy. It is hard to maintain momentum with an ever-changing goal. So, we’re a little tired. Nothing compared to what many people endure in other types of life detours. This detour were in now is just an inconvenient test of character.

How to say “farewell” to the one’s we love?

We may end up leaving town at the exact moment moment all of our close friends are busy with the plans, kids, jobs and dreams of their own lives. Maybe we will sneak out without making much of a wake, only to return some day, a year or more in the future, as if no time has passed at all.

This is a particularly emotional time for my husband and me, as we near our farewell date. We’re heading out with no attachment to a future plan—and an intentional openness to making a new home in a place outside of the United States or, less drastic, outside of Portland, Oregon.

The feelings of love and appreciation we hold for our friends in Portland (close, colleague and extended) are flooding us with the desire to remain tethered. To avoid missing out on special moments. To avoid missing the sacred feeling of being a part of something special—which is why most, if not all, of us moved to this town from somewhere else many moons ago. My husband and I have been so focused on leaving the increasing noise, rudeness and congestion of a newer version of Portland, that we’ve been distracted from the ache that occurs when distance flows between people who cherish each other. That ache is fully present today.

Willfully untethering from rewarding and wonderful attachments is no easy task. 

We’re feeling a sense of groundlessness approaching. A sense of floating adrift in the world without the things, jobs, hobbies, home and people who have defined us for so many years. And there is a chance, some of these goodbyes may be the last. That unspoken knowing of life’s unpredictability feels especially tender for us—as we casually hug friends at the end of each dinner, happy hour and cup of coffee—making loose plans for another visit before we go.

A visit we both know is unlikely.

We love our people. Deeply. We’re blessed. We’ve been so lucky to share time and space with amazingly remarkable humans during our nearly two decade stint in Portland. This is the stuff that makes life meaningful. These connections. These tethers … heart to heart.

There is a sorrow in leaving such goodness and yet, a great joy knowing that this kind of goodness exists in the world. This joy is like the speckled sun peeking out from behind the clouds. Always there, even if hidden from time to time.

And I suppose, though, no matter how far we roam from one another, the heart strings will always remain. That’s comforting.