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Imaginary.

November 5, 2007

It was just another Friday night. Another Friday night where I would typically stay at home, curl up on my couch and watch reruns of What Not To Wear. Another lazy Friday evening at home.

But I didn’t want to be at home. Whether it was simple boredom or the fact the wall in my kitchen makes an obnoxious tapping sound every five seconds or a combination of the two, I wanted out.

I hopped in my car and went to the nearby mall. I thought I could see a movie. Wasn’t sure which one, just whatever wasn’t sold out yet.

Being that it was Friday, the parking lot was packed. Cars circled around each other, speeding down the rows, screeching to a halt.

I decided to forgo my movie attempt. It was just too cold and I just didn’t have the patience.

Whether it was the frustration of the traffic or the fact it was the end of another week or a combination of that and the fact I was once again sitting alone in my car, I started to cry.

It’s like an out of body experience with someone else in control of my emotions. Why am I crying, I thought. Nothing had happened. But that was exactly the problem. There was nothing there.

My tears blurred the headlights of the cars and I blinked furiously.

I have to drive. I have to drive.

I have no idea where I am going.

Even when I lived in Eugene and was going through the period of time where I was very depressed, with the cutting and the therapy and the whole bit, I always had someone I could call, someone I could visit, someone who was there for me.

And I didn’t know who to call on Friday. It’s nobody’s fault, really. I have been making excuses for the past four months about why I haven’t made any friends except for the ones that I was technically already friends with. I have been pretending that making plans to go into the city or drive to Boston or Washington D.C. is a perfectly acceptable method of creating a social life.

But it isn’t, obviously. It isn’t enough when I’m alone on a Friday night, wondering what I should do and whether it would be worth to drive all the way into the city just to be near people.

I flipped my phone open. I closed it. I flipped it open again. I didn’t know who to call.

Dozens of phone numbers and no one to call.

Those trips are the Band-Aids covering up the illness that I’m trying desperate to convince everyone, including myself, that I don’t have.

I’m a little bit homesick.

I feel like one of the characters in Garden State and I’m reminded of the line in the movie that goes,

“You’ll see when you move out it just sort of happens one day one day and it’s just gone. And you can never get it back. It’s like you get homesick for a place that doesn’t exist. I mean it’s like this rite of passage, you know. You won’t have this feeling again until you create a new idea of home for yourself, you know, for your kids, for the family you start, it’s like a cycle or something. I miss the idea of it. Maybe that’s all family really is. A group of people who miss the same imaginary place.”

I wonder how long it will take before the imaginary place becomes real again.

21 Comments
  1. November 5, 2007 7:48 PM

    Allison,

    I am sorry this is happening to you. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to move across the country away from the people you love most. From what I know of you, you are an amazing person who deserves the best from life! I hope you can find that “someone to call”, that we all need at times in our life. I hope things turn around for you, this was beautifully written by the way.

  2. November 5, 2007 8:33 PM

    Trying to make new friends is way hard. I’m sorry it hasn’t been going so great in NJ. I don’t know what the answer is, but I hope things improve very soon. (((hugs)))

  3. November 5, 2007 8:38 PM

    Allison,
    I am so sorry you are going through this difficult time. I know with my own drepression, even though I may have people/friends around me, I can still feel alone. It’s not a fun place to be. I hope things get better for you. In the meantime, you’ll be in my prayers…

  4. November 5, 2007 9:15 PM

    Allison,
    Thanks for posting this. I don’t have a ton of advice except to say that a lot of us have been there. It’s a big deal to move far away from home and it takes a while to establish a new group of friends that you can call on a random Friday night. I’ve lived out here for almost a year and I’m just starting to settle into a group. Maybe try hosting some of your work friends on a Friday night? Plan a post-work dinner? Take a random pottery class?

    I’ll be thinking of you.

  5. November 5, 2007 9:22 PM

    Hi Allison,
    If you are up for a trip to NH – come stay w/ us. We have a guest room – we’re old but fun, sort of, and we live in a beautiful place. This is an absolutely, serious offer.
    Colleen

  6. November 5, 2007 10:03 PM

    I hate loneliness. I haven’t felt it since college but I had a lot of it until I met my wife. It can be devastating. Once I met my wife neither of us felt lonely until I had a heart attack and needed bypass surgery. We had just moved to Florida from Massachusetts and my wife felt so alone. We solved it by going to church and getting involved in some activities. Many of the more up to date churches have programs for young, single adults. This is really sticking my neck out. Religion and politics are taboo in this type of forum but I just needed to tell you how we solved our problem.

  7. Wendy permalink
    November 5, 2007 11:42 PM

    Allison,
    I wish I lived closer to you. I am in east of nowhere. If you ever need to talk or something give me a call. Believe me though people in NJ are friendly if you just give them a chance. I would suggest doing some activity.
    Wendy

  8. November 6, 2007 2:02 AM

    That’s rough. I’ve definitely been there (and still am there) several times in the last year. It’s hard moving and leaving your community and feeling lonely. It’s really hard going from having a network of friends and support that you can definitely rely on to not really having that in the same way, even if parts of it are still there in theory. I have definitely flipped my phone shut like that before, and whether it is from a move, something my friends did that hurt me or made them unavailable to me, or my own baggage and/or not wanting to reach out, it’s really lonely. And that quote is fitting, because you can’t really go back to the same thing – it’s gone.

    Don’t be hard on yourself about not having met anyone yet. It’s really really hard, whether you are in an old city or new one, to meet new people. I think sometimes there’s an expectation our 20s are expected to be great and social and crazy, but there can actually have a lot of hard, sometimes lonely transitions.

  9. November 6, 2007 2:04 AM

    ps not that this will make you feel that much better, but i did want to say thanks, because your post a while back inspired me, and i found a pharmacy to accept my used sharps. i had always taped them up in hard plastic containers, but now they are safely in the pharmacy instead of the garbage.

  10. November 6, 2007 9:17 AM

    For what its worth, I went through this myself when I moved from Connecticut to California back in 1992. Sometimes its depressing, but when you’re no longer in the protected confines of a university, its suddenly not as easy. I found attending those Learning Center Annex 1-night classes worked well for me; I ended up meeting people with similar interests and there was a nonstop stream of new people in each class. I actually learned about teaching English in Japan, and cooking Moroccan among other things!

  11. November 6, 2007 7:56 PM

    Allison

    Sorry to hear about the blues. Do call if things get bad, it stinks when you don’t have family nearby (trust me, this is something I do know about).

    I hope this passes and that you can make some good friends that will be there to give you hugs and laugh at a movie together or chat till the sun rises.

  12. November 7, 2007 8:04 PM

    I’ve been there too Allison. It’s tough. Those first few years out of college, out on your own are challenging, as you create a new sense of home and identity for yourself. I hope that knowing this is “normal” makes you feel a little bit better.

    When I first started reading the description of your evening, I was a bit envious. Having the whole night to do whatever you wanted sounded great! Once you’re “settled” you have to take other people’s desires and plans into account all the time. I suppose my advice would be to try and enjoy the adventure you’re on right now. And when you’re lonely or homesick, call one of your friends or a family member to reconnect.

  13. November 8, 2007 2:49 AM

    I’m sorry to hear it. I hope that time will cure the homesickness, and that things get easier. Moving is rough, especially just after college… what a lot of transition that is! I’ll be sending you warm thoughts and wishing you all the best…

  14. November 8, 2007 10:14 AM

    Allison,

    Somehow I’d missed this post until just now. I too am sorry that you’re feeling this way, and I’ve also been there. I know it doesn’t always help to hear what others have been through when you’re in the middle of it yourself, but I’ll share my take anyway.

    A few years ago I moved from London, where I’d lived for over six years, to Plymouth, for career reasons. I found my time in Plymouth very, very difficult. England is not a very big country, and the distances are not as vast as you are facing. I also still had my flat in London as a bolt hole. But it took over 5 hours to make it back to London. It didn’t help that I spent much of that year with my leg in plaster. I was working with a very small group of people that I got on very well with, but I didn’t want them to feel they had to be my friends, just because I found it hard to meet new people (which was actually mistake – I was projecting my own worries, rather than looking at reality).

    I was convinced, partly by the power of immense homesickness, that moving back to London would magically solve everything. But when I did it, it didn’t. I found myself back in a very familiar city, which was comforting in itself, but the old patterns had shifted and reformed like the coloured glass in a kaleidoscope. I wasn’t moving back to the life I’d known, and still had to create a new one. It was only at that point I realised my location had very little to do with it, it was the moving on, growing up if you will, that had changed everything. Many of my closest friends had also left London at the same time as me, and I was the only one to return. You’re spot on with the imaginary place quotation.

    Making friends with whom you can establish a regular social life is really, really hard. Trust me, it’s often harder than dating. Anyone who tells you otherwise probably thinks that Facebook represents how the real world works.

    But remember that the connections you have with the people still exist, even if the old places and lifestyles have changed. And the trouble with loneliness is that it can be self perpetuating. The lonelier you feel, the more isolated you become and the less you feel like doing anything about it. For those reasons I think it’s important to reconnect with family back home and old friends no matter how far away.

    In terms of the here and now, I agree with what others have suggested; join a group and find people to connect with. If you take up a new hobby, you’ll get something else out of it too. I attend a lot of professional groups, which also connects me to my professional peers. There is nothing wrong with joining a book group to meet friends. There is nothing wrong with using internet based social services that organise local events. Several of these exist in London and I’m sure a quick search will turn up something local to you. It doesn’t make you sad and pathetic, in case that should cross your mind. It makes you proactive – taking charge of your own social life.

    Funnily enough, I look back on my time in Plymouth now with immense fondness. Yes, it wasn’t the most socially busy time in my life, but I did have a lot of fun. And most importantly of all, I got very used to my own company and really learned to love it. That is a very useful thing to feel, no matter how busy my social life gets.

    I hope you find a “new reality” soon.

    Caro

  15. November 12, 2007 1:29 AM

    Hmmm…I just read this post, Allison, and I hope that you are feeling better today. I am lonely as of late myself–living in Taiwan away from friends, family, language, culture, all of it, makes it really hard. People tell me how lucky I am to be here and I know I am blessed, but I also know that loneliness, homesickness, that feeling of depression or sadness that comes over me sometimes when I am alone is also very real. It is a loss of place and time as much as anything else. I know when I go home it won’t solve all my problems and sometimes being back in the old place where things are the same but different is actually lonelier. Anyway, I wnat oyu to know that I’m thinking of you and sending you a prayer all the way from my little corner of the world here in Taipei.

  16. November 30, 2007 2:57 PM

    I just wanted to say hang in there. I too spent a lot of time reading the weekend newspaper from end to end, every word, when I did a city shift. It gets better. I treated it as a project, a goal, to meet people and make friends.

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