A lifetime’s not too long
As our time in Cambridge is coming to a close, we are feeling quite sentimental about our life here and actually having to leave this place that has become our home. The city is beautiful and has such unique character and there are certain charms about the country that we will certainly miss, but the thing that is making us emotional is this: our friends are here. These people are not just some acquaintances we’ve made along the way, but friends who really feel like family. I don’t want to forget all the ways in which they have enriched and blessed our lives these past four years. I want to remember what it’s like, so when we get to Austin and it’s hard and lonely and we don’t have friends yet, we’ll know the possibilities. I want the memory to spur us toward community and relationships.
I realize I’m painting a picture that somewhat idealizes our life here and that’s not what I’m trying to do. Things aren’t perfect. Maybe I’ll write about all the things we WON’T miss when we leave this place. But I do want to remember the people who have made such an impact on us. These are a few of my favourite memories of our Cambridge family. The memories aren’t all roses, but I know we’ll love reading back over these for years to come.
A few friends held our hands in the early days when we were missing America like crazy, when the people we had the most history with were those we’d known for two months, and when we didn’t exactly love Cambridge just yet. They said, “I get it” when we complained about the food and the weather. And then we made enchiladas together.
We travelled together to Germany and the Peak District and Durham and Oxford and London. You get to know people on a different level when you travel together, the good and the bad. It’s a nice surprise when you like someone more after being in the car or on a plane together for a few hours.
Our friends came and stood in for our parents and siblings and held our newborn baby boy in the hospital just after his arrival. They cared for us in the days (weeks, months!) that followed. We were still having meals dropped off when Asher was several months old!
My girlfriends took it in great stride when they showed up to our flat and I had a breastpump attached, a crying baby in my arms and I hadn’t showered for God knows how long… not to mention that I didn’t have on pants! (Meh… details!)
When I was exhausted and knee deep in dirty dishes and laundry with a six-day-old baby… they shut me in my bedroom and cleaned our entire flat from top to bottom. I slept through the whole thing.
Our dear friends made Christmas dinners with us, gathered around to read the Christmas story, and ate turkey with us on Thanksgiving. We dressed our babies up on Halloween and had New Year’s Eve parties.
They moved all of our stuff, once while I was pregnant and once when we had a three-week old, to new flats. I don’t mean they showed up and carried out a few boxes. I mean they made the new bed, put clothes in the closets and organized the kitchen.
We’ve mourned and celebrated all sorts of life events together: deaths of grandparents, marriages, births, miscarriages, illness, infertility, new jobs, moves. We rejoiced and cried for one another all along the way.
We’ve had summer picnics and winter roasts, baby showers, surprise birthday parties, 4th of July barbecues, New Year’s Day breakfasts, Good Friday lamb suppers, Easter kickball matches, too many dinner parties to count… all the occasions where you might get together with people you love, we were with these people.
We would meet outside in the springtime the moment the sun would start to peak through the clouds after the long winter. I don’t know how many lunches and dinners we’ve spent just sitting outside chatting in the garden with friends who live about 50 feet away… being able to carry a baby monitor out to the garden while Asher is sleeping and spontaneously have a meal with friends has been one of our favourite things about daily life.
I have spent lots of time together with the girls, speed walking through town, working out, popping into shops, meeting on Fridays for drinks, drinking many (many) cups of tea, going on girls weekends, celebrating birthdays. This has been a particularly special blessing to me as this is the first time I’ve had such a big group of wonderful girlfriends in my life at once.
In the end, it’s not rocket science… the people make the place. That’s true for any place and we’ve met some super great people here and have grown to love this incredible place. We know our situation is unique in that we don’t have our families nearby, and most of our friends don’t either, which causes us to bond to one another more strongly. Whatever the reason, I think these will be the friends we look up when we’re in their respective hometowns 30 years from now. I hope so.