My best Jakarta Girlfriend, Joy, is moving. Seeing the packing trucks out in front of her house buzzed me back in time to 1971—the summer before 7th grade. The first move I remember making—the first in a life-time of moving away. We weren’t moving that far. We lived in Huntington Beach and would still be living in Huntington Beach, but not on Griffith Circle. My parents were divorcing. My mom, brother, and I were moving almost two miles, from a house to a 2-bedroom townhouse apartment on Warner Avenue. My father, really step-dad, was moving a world away. After that moving day, I would never see him—the man whom I loved and looked up to as “Daddy” for 8 years, the man who had called me his “daughter” for those same 8 years—again.
I was leaving my last non-shared bedroom, my first ride-the-streets-solo-I-know-everything-and-everyone neighborhood. My best basketball, Monopoly, cookie-making friend, Donna McFall and her family of five kids—3 of whom fell into my brother and my age range—would no longer be on-call for after dinner Kick-the-Can or Hide-n-Seek. My best Elton John and Harlequin Romance friend, Theresa, would not be three doors away on any given Saturday afternoon. Jane, one year older and wiser, wouldn’t be across the street, slipping notes and advice through the hole in my window screen. My best friend, Valarie, wouldn’t be waiting on the way to school, ready to partner up on Halloween costumes and school projects, either. We would never again race home together trying to beat the street lights.
Moving sucked then--it still does.
But this is the worst.
All the moves before it was me moving away. This is the first time I recall anyone leaving me behind. Even that first time, while leaving Griffith Circle was tough, it wasn’t as painful. I was so busy getting ready to move, moving, and unmoving that I didn’t have time to think about it. I found comfort in knowing I could hop on my bike and ride back to Griffith Circle to my friends when I felt homesick. Afterwards, while I figured out who I was in this new place, in this new room—shared with my mother—in this new life, time passed and healed the homesickness.
Later moves were the same. While I didn’t always physically return to other “old” neighborhoods, I mentally returned via telephone, letters, and e-mail. As in the opening of the play Old Town, in my mind I positioned the cast in the proper setting, imagining everyone and everything exactly as I had left it/them, comforting myself with their sameness.
But this time, I’m not the one leaving—I’m being left. In her mountain of boxes and bundles, along with her mix-matched happy, eclectic furniture, scatter rugs, husband and son, Joy is taking away my touchstone, my full calendar, packing up my place to run when I need a laugh, a drink, a friend….
It hurts more when you are not the one who is moving.
I never knew that before.