In two days, I will head to Colorado for a girlfriend weekend with 10 friends. We’ve rented a house to celebrate the 40th birthdays of three of us.
It is a tradition begun when the first of us turned 40. There will be laughing, eating, drinking, inappropriate and weird conversations, and more laughing.
For three months, I have looked forward to this trip, but this week I’ve felt oddly apprehensive about this first visit back to my old home.
My life in Milwaukee is nothing like the one I left in Colorado, but it somehow fits better. Not once have I regretted our move or even missed the state I once called home.
I’ve fallen in love with my new city in a way that has surprised me. Within a few short weeks, Wisconsin felt like home, probably because it once was.
I’ve missed the people, though. Their pull on my heartstrings is strong, yet I feel anxious to be among them again.
What happens if I visit and never want to leave? What if the happiness I’ve felt in Milwaukee becomes an allusion in the face of what I left behind? Worse yet, what if I already feel that slight waning that distance causes over time? What if I know longer fit in there?
I suspect the weekend will be emotionally intense, and the week after is likely to be mildly disorienting and confusing as I sort through my emotions.
If I could avoid this complexity of feelings, I would. But the only way to do that would be to never return. And that would be like avoiding a piece of myself—a big piece, a happy piece, a piece that needs me to visit.
When we choose to move about in this world rather than staying in one location, the pieces of ourselves end up scattered. We may feel disconnected from ourselves, never quite whole because a part of our hearts is always somewhere else.
It can begin to feel like a game of tug of war in which we are constantly caught in the middle, trying to hang onto the rope so we aren’t thrown off.
Lately as my yearning for my Colorado friends tugged at me, I’ve reminded myself of the “invisible strings.” When my daughter was young, I traveled regularly for work. To ease her anxiety over being apart, I told her that no matter how far we are from each other, our hearts are always connected by invisible strings. What makes invisible strings magical is that they can stretch forever without breaking.
The more places you go, the more people you let into your life, the more strings you have. You can either allow yourself to feel caught in a game of tug of war, never quite belonging anywhere. Or, you can begin to appreciate the amazing web in which you live.
When we learn to walk nimbly across these invisible strings, the web we create connects the pieces of ourselves. It makes us whole.