My husband, David, and I recently packed up my tiny one bedroom apartment in Manhattan that I rented for 26 years. We were only moving to our home in the country just 90 minutes north, and I fully expect to be in and out of the city on a regular basis. But the way some city friends are reacting you would think we were moving far away.
Friends said to us, "We are going to miss you." Most of these people I see maybe once or twice a year, if then. We mainly stay in touch by email or social media or holiday cards. Schedules with work, family and travel take precedent. Most I correspond with regularly on Facebook, so I think it is ironic when a someone tells me, "Please stay in touch."
I have to ask, "How can you miss me when you never see me?"
We are not dropping out of touch or even out of sight. We are opting out of paying rent on a tiny city apartment in exchange for living in a larger country home we own. We are going to live where we always escaped to play.
After spending ten years as a couple leaving Manhattan every chance we could to "get away from the city," David and I embraced our last week in the city with the curiosity and fervor of newcomers. We scheduled a "staycation" to explore the five boroughs and visited restaurants and attractions we've been too busy to try. We traipsed through neighborhoods and side streets with renewed appreciation. For the first time, we hopped a subway to The Bronx to eat pasta on Arthur Avenue and took a Ferry to have breakfast on Staten Island. We never did any of this during the ten years we've been together.
Just the same way I quietly humphed! when friends I rarely see said, "We're going to miss you." I am convinced the streetscapes and storefronts silently snickered, "How can you miss us when you never stopped by before?"
Negotiating what to keep, what to donate and what to toss was a lesson in marital diplomacy. I viewed the move as a cleansing process and wanted to toss it all; my sentimental husband wanted to keep everything. When the final sweep of the broom was finished, we stepped outside on our patio and watched a couple load our sofa on top of their van. The bed I vowed "never to die in" was still waiting for a new home when we waved goodbye to my name on the door plaque.
Letting go is hard. But setting free is easy. It's all in how you see it. My good friend Laura, the World Traveler, likes to say, "How can you miss me when I'm never away?" I think it takes going away and creating some distance to gain more perspective. Step away and see what happens.