Wind of change…

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Milo has been diligently helping mommy with the packing 🙂

I have left home before. When I left my parents’ home 12 years ago, all I had was a suitcase worth of stuff to my name. Few years later, I left India to move to the US; I had 2 suitcases then, 25 lbs each. Now, after having lived here for 9 years, I am getting ready leave again. This time around I have over 3700 lbs in personal belongings…

It is all material acquisition but in a way it symbolizes something deeper. When I left home to attend college all those years ago, I left all my friendships behind. It’s not that I didn’t have any friends in school, but right after graduating high school my then-boyfriend broke up with me. He didn’t have ambitions like I did and he didn’t want to hold me back. True to his word, he is still there, managing family business, married, possibly with kids too. We had a common group of friends so while he and I parted on friendly terms, I didn’t want to be reminded of him. We all went to different colleges in different cities and without the active effort on my part, I lost touch with everyone. It didn’t bother me though. Soon I had a new group of friends in college and I was busy having fun.

Two years is not a long time to form lasting bonds. Once I decided to leave India, it was tough saying goodbye but the excitement of the adventure ahead was more than plenty to drown out any sadness that I felt. There was one friend who I really cherished but his girlfriend never approved of his friendship with me so, inevitably, we lost contact too. Back then even the technology wasn’t as advanced as it is today. My sister recently moved from India but she hardly misses her friends because they are all using Whatsapp or FaceTime or some other internet-based application available right on the phone. For me it was a whole different experience moving halfway across the world. I think it was almost a week before I managed to find an affordable way to speak to my family. The only form of communication we had was via emails. Eventually, we started using Yahoo messenger, then Google, then Skype. But it took time. Now I FaceTime with my parents at least once a week! (The term has actually become a verb, that’s how commonplace it is!)

Being so far away from home, I learned to depend on friends in a way I had never done before. It wasn’t just about having fun. We took care of each other. Friends soon held the same significance in my life as family. For first five years after my arrival here I never visited India. There was never enough money. By the time I graduated from school, paid off my student loan- whatever little bit of it I had thanks to my parents covering almost entire cost of school- and saved up enough money to buy a round trip flight ticket and gifts for everyone, five long years had lapsed. And finally when I was there I kept longing to come back to Buffalo. For the first time in my life, I was homesick!

What makes Buffalo special for me is in a way same as that for someone who was born here- this is where I ‘grew up’, this is where my friends are. Living on one’s own forces one to grow up in a way no number of years can match. Compared to now, I was a child when I moved here. And friends have been a fundamental part of this growth. For last nine years I’ve celebrated every single holiday with friends. So this time when I leave home, I will carry these friendships with me. I will make sure never to lose contact. They are the ‘3700 lbs’ of love that I have accumulated over the years and that I’m taking along.

I always believed that everything happens for a reason. I am not sure if that banal statement bears the same weight with me anymore. If I had the choice, I wouldn’t do it this way. I wouldn’t leave home once more and try to settle in some new place. I wouldn’t leave friends behind and try to make new friends elsewhere. So I am no longer certain about the verity of “everything happens for a reason“. What I do believe in, however, is the resilience of human spirit. We take that what life gives us and make the most of it- lemons/lemonade. I am a hard working, smart person. I could have a successful career anywhere, a job doesn’t justify the need to move. But that is what I have been given and I look to the future with optimism. For the first time, I’m not 100% sold on the change. It may be that I am getting old and obstinate. Or may be that I did actually find everything that I was looking for but have been dealt a bad hand and must continue playing anyway. Time will be the judge of that. Right now the wind of change is blowing west, to Kalamazoo, MI!

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