The act of picking up and moving again is so much more complex than the single word, “Goodbye,” would lead you to believe. If it was all that easy. Just wave goodbye and wash away the feelings that come along with closing chapters and moving on.
I’ve said goodbye to more people over the last 8 years than I care to admit. It’s a cruel byproduct of being married to a guy determined to graduate medical school, become a doctor and then complete residency. You pick up and move, in our case thousands of miles aways, every few years.
This time it feels utterly different.
I’ve said goodbye to Michigan before. It’s brutal to have to do it again.
The complexity of the emotions wrapped around this final goodbye can’t be summed up in one piece of writing. It’s taken years to get to this point. 13, if you’re counting.
This is the first move in 13 years that we decided on, not one dictated by the formalities of the medicine journey. We chose this. We decided to close the chapter of a place that both of us have called home for the majority of our lives.
That’s what makes these intricate emotions cut a bit deeper.
We want to move. We’ve planned for this. We busted our asses in our careers for just this type of adventurous opportunity.
That’s why the knot in my throat is a bit bigger.
This is it. We’re closing the chapter on the long journey to become a doctor.
This move is more final.
With that comes a complex wave of emotions that washes over me depending on the time of day, who I’ve just said goodbye to and what item I’ve just picked up and packed: sad, excited, scared, happy, nervous, content and anxious.
Toss in moving 4,400 miles during a global pandemic and starting a new life on an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and you can imagine things have been a bit more complicated than other moves.
Not surprisingly, I’ve got my To Do Lists checked off and have everything lined up as best I can before we pick up our lives and move.
- Fur baby quarantine and test results needed to relocated to Hawaii
- Furnished home for 14-day quarantine
- Car shipment
- Cancel utilities
- Forward mail
- Donate all winter clothes *smirk*
- Sell 50% of household goods (Yes, for real)
- Finalize and go to all doctors appointments
This is all occurring when the world is nearly at a full-stop. Trying to get anything done logistically has been a slow, tedious and sometimes tequila-inducing journey.
Yet, those aren’t the things weighing heavy right now. I just waved goodbye to my husband as he left for his very last residency shift and I’m feeling all sort of things.
It’s the things we can’t check off on a list that lurk a bit more in the backs of our hearts and minds that matter most.
As we drove through the city where I spent my formative years growing up and then made our way downtown to Detroit, those sentimental bubbles of memories kept floating to the top.
From where I performed my first musical solo on stage to where I gave my high school graduation speech to where we had our first date and finally where we got engaged; which happened two weeks before we left Michigan the first time. You guessed it, on another move during this medicine journey.
As I wrote about here, so much has changed and yet, so much has remained the same.
In many ways I’ve moved on from my hometown and in other ways, I’ll always be intrinsically tied to this Midwestern safe haven.
My heart will always have a special spot for Detroit, a city that defines what true grit means and how transformation isn’t (necessarily) a beautiful process; but one sometimes filled with heartbreak as rebuilding shows a cruel inner workings of greed, social structures and racial inequalities.
I’ve realized as I’ve been pushed out of my comfort zone time and time again with each move, that I get to experience what some may notâ€“redefining what I imagined my life to be. Sure, it’s a privilege. That goes without saying for me. But, it’s also something that comes with a lot of heartache and resilience.
Something I’m reminded of each time I say goodbye.
Each time I have to residiscover where my favorite sour cream is in the new grocery store.
Each time I ask what the attire is for meeting new colleagues, not wanting to show up too over or underdressed.
Each time I reassess a new neighborhood running route.
Each time I look for local, progressive, social justice group meetings.
Each time I call friends and hear both good and bad news, without being able to hug them.
Each time I search for the perfect coffee shop to sit down and barrel through my words, expressing the barrage of emotions another move has brought on.
Each time I wonder if this move will take months or years for me to readjust and find a new circle of local friends.
Each time I get that nervous knot in my stomach that I’ll do or say something that completely shows I’m the new kid in town.
The life we imagine often sifts out these nuances of change. Moving to a tropical island in the middle of the ocean is an exotic adventure! The day-to-day of that may not be as adventurous or exotic as we reconcile this new life and chapter.
More often than not the highlight reel we see on the interwebs only showcases the fabulous end result.
We wouldn’t be writing this new Hawaiian chapter without finishing our Midwestern one. It’s was a long chapter earmarked and full of highlighted paragraphs; one that has forever left an imprint on my heart.
One that gave me the courage to say yes to this new tropical chapter.
Here’s to more adventures and adjusting our sails in the seas of change.
Especially during a global pandemic.