It’s that time of year again. People come and go. Like an airport terminal, only with less urgency and more tangled webs caught on their pant legs.

Our lives are set apart in chapters. We arrive. We live. We leave. In late spring, many of us find ourselves leaving or being left behind. I fall into the latter category. These ideas have been ruminating for a while in the dusty attic of my brain that does not deal well with transitions. It’s time for some spring cleaning.

I always thought I dealt with transitions without much angst or worry. One thing led to the next. And then to the next, and so on, until I found myself here: a mother of twins, wife of a medical student, landlocked in the middle of Iowa (read: unemployed in Greenland). It sounds romantic, I know, a life picked up and moved in a freeing sense of adventure and wanderlust. But the dizzying glitter and confetti that rained down on my transition quickly cleared to illuminate the truth of my situation. Transience.

We bought a house. That very move would signify setting down roots. But the nature of our path determines another course. Our timer had already been set, and when the bell rang we would be off on a new adventure: medical residency. No matter who we met or what relationships we formed during our four-year tour of Iowa, there would always be an expiration date. And there’s something there that makes it a little easier and a little harder to see people come and go.

It’s May, so graduations are happening left and right. People we know and have had time to get to know are graduating, getting married, moving to find better jobs. They are progressing to the next chapter of their lives. Yet we remain in purgatory waiting for our time to come. Nevertheless, lives go on. They must. But the fate of the relationships we have formed between us are not so certain. And this is where the crux of the ruminations lies. If life is about relationships, why is it that our culture enables us to so easily pick up and discard our friends like we do our golf clubs or tennis shoes? How deep of a connection can you form and maintain with another person if one of you is planning to leave?

My world has become one of impermanence, and it creates an aura of unsettling discomfort. It creates loose bonds, and it feels like lost time. Yet, it is May, and I must say goodbye to some friends who feel like family. From past experience I know the separation will erode this closeness, and I wonder who will take their place. But the truth is I don’t want anyone to take their place. I want them to stay with me in purgatory just a little bit longer. But they can’t. They must move on. There is no escaping life’s transitions.

Soon my time will come. I will leave, and I will arrive. My choice will be, do I dust off the tangled webs caught to my pant legs and start fresh, or do I bring them with me and incorporate them into my new life? I suppose there will always be some residue that carries over from one chapter to the next.

From Ani DiFranco:

everybody's in a hurry
here in purgatory
except for me
i'm where i need to be
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  1. This is so beautifully written, thoughtful and quiet. It’s probably the economy keeping us mobile (while also urging us to buy houses), at great cost to families and friendships.

  2. Transient or not, those who truly touch your life, will be in it forever, because they are in your heart. Wow, that sounds super cheezy. But it’s true. Nicely written!!


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