We’re always underestimating the power of physical distance. We underplay it potential, understate its capacity to shift and modify equations, and tell ourselves that distance really doesn’t change anything. We force ourselves to believe this, time and again going against the natural course of things, to prove that no matter how much things seem to have changed, they will forever stay the same.
Except, until one day you realise how far you’ve come from the truth.
Try as I may, it is impossible for me to put down in words the extent to which being physically distanced from the people in my life has changed my relationships with them. The hows and whys of being physically separated from everything I knew and held to be mine are not describable. All I know is things change. They just do.
Physically and emotionally, separation does strange things. Nothing prepared me for it. It is something that has happened gradually over time, and is sometimes hugely apparent, sometimes stealthily sly and elusive. But very much there.
A couple of days ago, the Bride’s post on fellowship brought a lot of these thoughts back to the surface. Because I realise time and again that while most of the acceptance of change, enjoying the new city, finding my feet again was a very soothing and liberating experience that happened fairly easily, the one change I found difficult to come to terms with was my changing sense of fellowship. I was never the kind to have a big circle of friends. The few I have/had I can count on one hand. And I hold them close, despite distances and being spread across the country. To say that feeling of security has undergone dramatic change, would be a gross understatement. Because change doesn’t begin to describe what I feel.
You can’t simply call it change when it feels like a part of you died and a newer (maybe old-new?) self came back alive, can you? Because as things changed with me, I felt parts of my personality evolve and take shape, I felt more disconnected with the few friends I previously felt super close to. And I found myself questioning over and over, how did things change that much?
Something about being delicately plucked out of the happy flower bed you once belonged to and being re-potted in a new garden, can be both liberating as well as overwhelming. And that’s how it was to move cities at the ripe old age of 25. Sense the heavy sarcasm when I say ripe old, because it was an age when I was pretty set in my ways. Life was on track and I was moving along the straight path (albeit slightly unhappily), without any intention to rock the boat. And it was much the same when it came to my circle of friends, who I vibed and socialised with.
When life changes dramatically, it is but natural to look at things anew. Views on how I want to steer my life, what interests me, what I value and the like have suddenly become crystal clear. And I find that the more I steep myself in this newness, the more distanced I feel from the person I was and the people I used to get along with.
Can change really change people that much?
While this wasn’t east to accept at first; because it meant suddenly finding myself at sea with nobody on my side and nothing to hold on to; it is much easier to
understand accept now. Being faced with considerable differences of opinion with friends you once agreed on with everything, shows you that things change, and where they now stand. It shows you that there will come a point when you suddenly find out that you want to cherish a new development in your life, with yourself first rather than the person you once went to with every little update. It means you will realise one day that you only enjoy going out drinking and indulging in mindless banter some of the time, rather than all of the time. Sometimes its a comes in the form of a rude shock when you realise the friends you once felt completely in sync with, the ones you shared everything with, will not feel the same anymore. Things change. People change. And it is best to accept it and move on.
Like I said nothing prepared me enough. It is the sort of change we underestimate. Until there comes a time when the change is so stark and apparent, and the gap between where you were and where you are is so wide, that it becomes much easier to stand at the edge, look out and see all the friends you once knew and held close standing before you, far far away, on the other bank. It becomes abundantly clear, which ones you’re still holding on to. They’re the ones who call a spade a spade, acknowledge this change and move with you. The ones who don’t depend on everyday phone calls as a sign of still being in touch. They’re the ones who I can chat with even after weeks of not having spoken, and know that nothing has changed and there is always something in common that binds us. They’re the ones I have found new wavelengths with, because our friendship grew beyond the realm of the teenage bonhomie we once shared. And then there are the new ones. The ones I made in this new phase of life. Some in Panjim. Some through the blog. People I meet every week, some once, twice, some never. Yet, with them I share a deep bond, deeper than with some of the friends I have known all my life.
Things change, and you realise that your definition of the friends you depend on no longer stays limited to the people you serially hang out with. Its the people with whom you can effortlessly move from one phase into another. With them there is a mutual acceptance of life having shifted gears, and things inevitably moving with it. I find I have less in common with those that stick to the old me. I have no patience for those who cling to old grudges, harbour bitter old fights and petty teenage feelings. In moving on, I feel I have quickly shed the tenacity I once had, of indulging in long-drawn conversation, justifying myself to repeatedly fix a strong basis of trust and friendship. I no longer want to entangle my friendship with the complexities of ego-battles, emotional-dependencies and personal-complexes. The few friends I have now, are hassle-free, we understand each other minus the burden of past, without the pressures of the future. And we know that when the time comes and we need to reach out, we’ll be there for each other, no questions asked.
Over time i have seen the very crux of my sense of fellowship crumble and take shape again. In a completely new, changed avatar.
How do things change so much?
I’ve asked myself the question over and over again, these past three years. Several events have brought the thoughts back to mind. And finally I found the answer yesterday.
Things don’t change. We do.
Some of my friends get that. Some don’t. It’s something I used to break my head over. To explain, convince, validate and justify what this change is. But like I said before, it is inexplicable. I cannot put it in words. Those who see it, know it, and we’re fine. We’re able to move on like nothing really changed. But for those, the hurt of having to let go of the past and move into the future will forever be a cog in the wheel. And painfully, I find I have less and less time to waste in waiting around and holding on. I’ve let go and moved on.
Things don’t change. We do. Because we must.