I met a woman at church on Sunday. She moved here with her family from the West Coast, and prior to that she lived in Switzerland. Color me surprised. She lived nearby me in Zurich, and our kids attended the same school. Even more surprising? Our lives there overlapped by one year. And her daughter knows my daughter. The girls are friends on Facebook, which is weird in a small world/big scary internet kind of way.

She told me that the transition from West Coast to East Coast felt really hard, and I said “I’m sure it is. These big moves are exhausting. Don’t you feel like you carry the weight of everyone’s emotions around with you, in addition to your own?” And she sort of nodded imperceptibly, maybe a yes, maybe a no. I said “Don’t you?” one more time to make sure she got my meaning. When she didn’t really respond, I wanted to grab her by the shoulders and force her to agree. Yes, yes it is hard to carry everyone’s emotions. But it occurred to me that perhaps I’m just projecting my issues on this poor woman, who now thinks I am a lunatic, judging by my insistence on the difficulty of her move.

Only now, after three and 1/2 months do I start to feel a lessening, a lightening of the load. No one has asked me to carry anything other than myself, but I don’t know how to love my family any other way. I see only a few tears and tantrums around here (with the exception of my own), but it’s the small clues I gather and turn over like stones in my pocket. The short tempers, the tired eyes, the easy frustrations. All normal, but everything heightened ever so slightly by this–our new/old life.

We returned to our church and our friends. Many of our activities in NJ are the same as before, everything rings familiar, but we are changed. We are no longer the same family, instead we are pushed forward through the passage of time and through life experience. There is no going back. There is only straight ahead, and therein lies the tension. In this tension, I begin to find the clues to what I truly carry.


Have you ever returned to former things? How did you feel about it, and how did you handle the transition?