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A week ago my best friend moved out of state. It was pretty surreal, and by surreal I mean that I was in complete and total denial even on the day she left. I didn't want to believe that my best friend wasn't going to be on the other side of Fresno anymore. I wanted to believe that she would stay right on the west side of Fresno, forever, so that whenever I needed her she would be there.
This move was major for her. Something that she had been planning for a while. A move that she and her husband had been talking about for years. Then about six months ago, they stopped talking about it and started to move. Tired of waiting for the right time, and deciding that now was as good a time as any.
When she told me that it was time for her and her family to make the big leap, I was happy for her. And not the happy that you pretend to be because you think your friend needs it, but the genuinely happy that you should be for your friend. We've been friends for so long that we have been through "life changes" before. We have tackled the "new". New babies, new jobs, new dreams, new blogs, more new babies, and at one point a new home school curriculum. We have tackled the "changes". Career changes, marital changes, changes in our writing and our blogs, changes to our families, and now a change in our locations and proximity. With every new and every change, we didn't question or judge, we didn't give our opinion on why it wasn't right, we just said, "Okay", and "what do you need?".
I could have rattled off one hundred and one reason why her move to Montana was a bad idea. But it wasn't a bad idea for her, it was a bad idea for me. I didn't and still don't have the desire to move. I wouldn't want to live anywhere but here. My best friend had the desire to move. She wanted a change of scenery. She wanted a new chapter with a new location. Moving was a very good idea for her, so why would I point out any negatives? I wasn't the one moving.
I call this the "Hot Air Balloon" effect. Once when we were talking about something else, probably homeschooling (which she does) or fast food dinners (what we both do from time to time), I told her that my job as her friend wasn't to tell her that her choice was right or wrong. It wasn't my job to talk her out of this decision or that, my job was to support her choice. To support the decision she had made. Ultimately she made the decision that was right for her and her family, it's not up to me to be the judge of that decision. My job as her friend is to tell her I had her back. And honestly, nine times out of ten, I know it's the best decision for her. Even when I disagree, I tell her, then, I support her anyway.
Because even if she said, "I'm buying a hot air balloon tomorrow", my response should always be, "Great. What color?", followed by, "When do we fly it?".
I tried really hard to ignore the fact that my best friend was moving to Montana. Even though we talked about it for months, because she needed someone to talk to and vent to. She needed someone to confess her fears and her frustrations. She needed to talk to someone when everyone else in her life was less that excited that she was moving her family of five very far away. So I just kept telling her, "So, you're buying a hot air balloon. What color do you want?". And most days, she would say, "Pink. I want it to be pink".
So as the Pink Hot Air Balloon loomed in our background, I found it funny that many other people in my life wanted to know how I was dealing with it. I guess I understand, when you best friend is moving away, it's expected that you should be a blubbering mess. But I wasn't. My heart hurt a little, but it swelled a lot because she was so excited. I was excited for her and her new adventure. I was inspired that she was taking action, taking control of one her her dreams and making it happen. I wish I could be half as brave in similar instances. Even as her "going away" party got closer and closer on the calendar, I still wasn't as half as upset as I thought I would be. I bought her going away gift with glee, I wrote out some sentiments in a card that didn't say good-bye or bon voyage, and I made sure I could be at the party. Even when we said our good-byes after the party, there were minimal tears. Only promises of seeing each other soon. Promises of endless text messages.
Last Monday I woke up knowing that my best friend was on the road, driving across a couple of states and on to her new home. She would no longer have a familiar zip code or area code. She would be in a different time zone. It was still all surreal. I spent most of the day following along on Instagram as she made her journey. Enjoying pictures of her kids loading in car seats with laptops and snack foods. My breath actually catching when she posted a picture of snow. Because this is exactly what she had been dreaming of for so long. She had awoke something in herself, to go after that one thing she so desired. And I was so happy for her, and so sad for myself, at the same time.
Bittersweet isn't even the word to describe what it's like when your best friend moves so far away that a trip to see her requires an airplane. My heart was so torn because I was so delighted and thrilled for her, and at the same time be so selfish and sad that she isn't just right around the corner. But I felt both, I am both. I'm so damn happy for her that her every time she texts me a picture of the view from her front porch. I'm also heartbroken enough to know that when she posts a picture at the bookstore in her little town, I won't be meeting her there. I'll admit, I'm a little jealous too, a small town bookstore in the snow is so picturesque I can't stand it.
The Pink Hot Air Balloon is flying. And it looks beautiful in that big Montana sky. I miss her, and I miss the idea of her being so close, but I know that I can see her again. I know that we will always text on Thursday nights, after Scandal plays in my time zone. I know that I can send her a book in the mail and she will send me one in return. I know that I will still call her on my mornings off and we will ply our kids with Oreos so we can have important conversations about Hindsight and Harry Potter memes. I know all of that because I know her, and I know me, and I know the miles have never mattered.
One day your best friend might say, "I want to buy a hot air balloon". And I hope that you just smile and ask, "What color are we getting?".
And even when she says chartreuse, be excited anyway.