I’m on a text chain with three friends from college. We can go a couple of days without messaging, but usually somebody throws something out there eventually. I realized today that that text chain had been silent for a long time – maybe a week? And then I remembered that my friends are all getting together this weekend… they aren’t texting because they are actually talking to each other, in the same room (and I’m sure this past week they were making and confirming plans on a different chain that didn’t include me, which was very kind of them).
This is not the first time I have not been on a trip with them. They have traveled together quite a bit, and there have been visits, like this one, that I couldn’t attend. I decided not to go this weekend because flying across country again with my kids would have cost a fortune, in both dollars and my sanity. Like so many times before, I couldn’t afford it, not because I can’t afford to travel, but because I’d prioritized other things instead (to be fair, this trip was planned only two months ago, long after my other travel plans had been finalized and tickets purchased).
The weird thing is, I’m not sure how I feel about it. In the past I’ve felt all manner of things when I “couldn’t go”: jealousy, envy, self-pity, indifference, frustration, FOMO. I felt left behind and it hurt. And now, it seems like I should feel those things, especially since this is the first trip in which kids are included, and I’m the only one who won’t be there when this new chapter in their friendships is… consummated? I don’t know. It feels like a significant milestone, one I was desperate to share with them when I embarked on the insane journey that is motherhood, back when they weren’t even thinking of having kids, and couldn’t relate to anything I was going through (so I tried my best to pretend like it wasn’t happening at all). But now they are moms, with kids close in age, and they are together, and I am not…
Of course this weekend I’ll be away myself, and I’m sure all the logistics of traveling with two kids (again) will distract me much of the time. But we are visiting my husband’s friends and I will surely be left alone with the kids in the later evenings, (which is how it should be – I would expect the same if our situations were reversed) and so I’m sure my mind will wander, to my friends and what they are doing together…
The things is, we have all changed so much, and we live so far apart, and there are… complications, as there always are with long-term friends (especially those you met in college)… I’m not even sure who they are to me anymore, or who I am to them–I mean, they are and always will be, my three closest college girlfriends, but what does that mean anymore, 15 years after we graduated? Does that even make sense? So much has changed, we can’t just stay the same.
And that is why I’m not sure what to feel anymore. I am all too aware that the reality of something like that is never what you expect; I know the actual experience would be strange and exhausting in all kinds of complicated ways.
So yeah… that is where I will, and won’t, be this weekend.