Friends in Far Places

I was born in Connecticut and I lived there until I was seven; when I was seven, I moved south to Tallahassee, Florida. Seven years later, I went to boarding school in Connecticut; during that span of time, my parents moved to Seoul, South Korea. I graduated from Westover and now go to GW. My dad lives in Boston, and that’s where I spend the majority of my time when I’m not in DC. My mom moved four hours south to Lake Mary, Florida.

That timeline – and map! – explain a couple of things.

It explains how I don’t know where I’m from… because, after all, is your hometown where you were born, or where you grew up? Does a person finish growing up at 14, or does that continue through highschool? Is where I “live” where my parents live – and if so, which parent? – or is it where I live? Where do I live? (Where does Liv live? Funny one…)

It explains how adverse I am to moving. Sure, I’m good at it. Yep, five years of moving in and out of a dorm so far means that I’ve got packing down to a science… no, that doesn’t mean that things don’t seem to multiply as soon as you have to put them in boxes.

Most importantly, it explains why I have such a difficult time keeping track of all of my friends. Between Tallahassee, Seoul, the entirety of New England, AND the DMV area, it seems nearly impossible to keep track of everyone… and very mysterious as to why this summer has been spent almost exclusively with my family (Greater Boston area friends, where are you?!).

Even though it’s taken some time (and frustration!), I have recognized how wonderful it is to have grown up in so many places.

I adore New England with all of its charms and I appreciate how I don’t have to make excessively nice (and inquisitive) conversation with everyone I meet; I think there’s an authenticity and humility of true New Englanders (with that shorts/long sleeve shirt combination, and Dunkin Donuts iced coffee always trustily double-cupped in styrofoam). I probably wouldn’t be the fast-walking, fast-talking, fast-driving person I am today without the Northeast.

That being said, growing up in Tallahassee was wonderful – even if it took me a while to realize it. There are friends that I made throughout my time in Northern Florida that I am still so proud to know. I wouldn’t be the student I am now without the great schools and gifted program in my Tallahassee elementary and middle schools, and I pipe up whenever someone bashes the texture of a perfectly boiled peanut or calls sweet tea “too sweet.”  I have a country music station programmed into my car, even if I only listen to it when I’m driving alone. To this day, Spanish moss, canopied roads, and… gated communities? bring me right back to a place that still feels like home.

Though Seoul was home for only a brief period of time, I think it will always hold a special place in my heart. It was there that I felt the first inklings of true independence and true solidarity. I didn’t have many friends the summer I spent there, and in retrospect, I wish that I had taken more of the many opportunities that were handed to me; looking back, it was in the streets of Seoul, wandering alone at the age of 15 (also, retrospectively… wise? probably not), that I learned that travel can be joyful, even when alone… but that it’s always best when shared with someone else.

After graduation senior year, I heard a friend of mine say that they were so happy that they never had to speak to certain people from high school or their hometowns again… and something in that resonated with me. When you’re constantly moving, the only people that stick around are those that want to, and you sure as hell don’t get any stragglers who end up moving with you. I’m so proud of my friendships that have withstood the challenges of distance and passing time, and though I’m sad that I can’t get everyone I love into the same room to hang out together, there’s a beauty in knowing that the friendships that have made it this long are definitely here to stay.

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