The Empty Office Next Door (or maybe, Friends Are Friends Forever…kind of)

The office is empty. The desk is vacant. There is a line of dust on the bookshelf that reveals the place where books once rested. And my friend is gone…

Off to the next leg of his journey, with his wife, baby and beloved bicycle in tow. I had known for the better part of a year that Bryan would be leaving, but somehow the reality of it just didn’t sink in until the last few moments. As if it was just some weird dream that was never really going to happen. But it did. And now I’m living on the other side of his departure and looking into an empty office like it’s some kind of memorial.

I’ve never dealt with change like this very well. I am notoriously bad at staying in touch with friends from the past. For some reason, I always move towards ignoring the situation instead of dealing with it. I guess it’s a defense thing and maybe its necessary. I don’t know. Every time I’ve ever moved, (i.e. going to college, leaving college, leaving Virginia to come to Florida) I’ve always coped with it by slipping into some sort of task mode and viewing the entire transition as something to get done and a list of preparations to be made. I never really let the finality of it sink in. Eventually, the day of the move would arrive and I would just slide into my new reality and ignore the world that I just left behind. It never felt like I was really leaving, more like I was just pressing pause on that life. As if I would return to it later and things would pick up where they left off.

Every time I go visit my parents or see an old friend from some previous chapter of my life it always feels surreal. Like there is something about that old life that still feels like home. Like nothing ever changed. But then I look around and see all these unfamiliar buildings, beards on faces that never used to be able to grow beards and rust and dry rot on the basketball hoop in my parent’s driveway and all of a sudden I realize that this world continued on without me, just like I did without it. It still feels like home in some sense, but in a disorienting kind of way. Like when you drive past a house you used to live in, a long time ago, and it feels simultaneously familiar and unfamiliar, both comforting and unsettling. Memories often produce warm, soft feelings but they always have an ice-cold edge to them too. Because the clock doesn’t go back (unless it’s daylight savings time, of course). Those events, places and people were all a part of shaping who you are today and will always be a part of you, but you will never live that exact life again. Even if you move back and reconnect with the same people in all the same places it will never truly be what it was before. It’s not supposed to be. We’re supposed to grow and change. There is nothing static in this life. Everything and everyone is always changing and moving. But I guess it’s easier to ignore that than to face it directly. That’s probably why I suck at staying in touch with people, it’s easier that way.

Some places are harder to leave than others and some people are harder to part with than others. Everyone in your life leaves some sort of mark on you but some people become such a regular fixture in your life that you end up taking them for granted and can’t even fathom the ways in which their departure will effect you until your sitting in a chair in an empty office wishing the clock would spin backwards.

Bryan, I love you like a brother. I sympathize with Paul who sent off one of his dear friends, saying “I am… sending my very heart.” (Philemon 1:12) I am grateful to have been a part of your journey and blessed beyond measure to have had you as a part of mine.

3 thoughts on “The Empty Office Next Door (or maybe, Friends Are Friends Forever…kind of)

  1. Ugh…that’s a hard picture to look at. It is like a memorial…like everyone is greiving a loss.
    Hope ur card made u smile or even chuckle =)

  2. I feel the exact same way. Every time I go back “home” (MO) I forget that those people’s lives still go on. I forget that everyone is getting older and that life still goes on. I’m so glad BJ was a part of my life and made a mark in my story.

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