My father was a gypsy. He didn’t wear earrings or drive a brightly coloured wagon, but he had a rambling soul. Once the challenge of a place had gone, he had to move on, taking his family with him. He’d find a job that presented a problem to be sorted. He’d sort it, then move on. He’d find a house that required tender loving care. He’d fix it and move on. As a result, between the ages of four and sixteen, I went to seven different schools. Only when he got to the age of needing to be near family and health care in case of illness, did he finally settle down. But he made sure he settled in a house with a big shed where he could spend his days on new challenges of his own making.
All the moving between schools for us as children meant constantly making new friends. I hated that part. Being shy, I tended to sit on a bench until someone took pity on me and asked me to play. But I did make friends, good friends and I’m still in touch with some of them. It was the saying goodbye that was the hardest. I just wished we could stay in one spot and never have to say goodbye.
I didn’t marry a farmer on purpose, but I have to admit that the thought that I would stay in one spot for the rest of my life added an extra sparkle to my happiness. I could make friends and keep them forever. Or so I thought. The truth is though, that it was actually a lot easier saying goodbye to people and then leaving, than saying goodbye and watching them go. At least when you leave, there’s the excitement of the challenge ahead, the promise of new friendships from a fresh ‘pool’. When you’re the one staying, you can only hope that someone else will chance by to take their place.
These days, of course, the internet provides whole new opportunities for making friends, but that's a whole other blogpost!
I’m off tomorrow to see the friends I said goodbye to four years ago. Be good while I’m away!