A recent cup of coffee with a friend who is young, unmarried, unfettered by motherhood, childless, brave, and moving across the country alone for a teaching position to a town she's never visited, let alone lived in, brought home some real meaningful truths.
As we sipped our beverages and twirled our straws I asked her about life and vicariously gleaned the excitement of not yet being twenty six and still carving out a life post university, pre-marital bliss; a life I still can't get over has come and gone, rounding the bend toward forty -three with one son on the cusp of adolescence and the other just a nose behind.
I was struck by the bravery and independence of my friend; how she'd decided to take this leap, pack her car and her life and her previous job and relationship and just go. Driving three days to get there - piece of cake. Finding an apartment? Well, she told me, it'll all work out.
And admiring, as I am of many young women these days, her confidence, her determination, her genuine sense of self, I was also a little sad as she recounted person after person in her large family of siblings and parents, grandparents and in her circle of friends, including her boyfriend, who were either too busy or too caught up in their own lives to help her in the enormous endeavor of this move.
"It would just be nice to have someone out there with me for a few days," she mused, gazing out of the window with great humility and amazement at her situation."Just to help me if I feel like I'm getting lost."
Her words resonated so profoundly as I wished I were her sister or her mother, her cousin or her aunt, that I could go with her, laugh over crazy GPS navigational systems and satellites and landscapes that feel like the moon.
I told her about moving to Los Angeles from New York without a single friend and my then husband busy all the time with law school, pushing a four month old baby around in the desert heat, feeling empty, homesick, scared and abandoned.
The first friend I made took me under her wing and continued to be the most important connection I had in the dry, parched planet of Los Angeles. I eventually met some of the best women friends I've ever had in my life living there, but it took that first connection to ease my heartache and my isolation, my sense of being really, truly lost.
I told my friend she would find that one person and she would find her quickly and that would make all the difference for.
It's not to say my friend needs help in determining a safe, habitable and affordable space for herself, or help signing a lease or hooking up her electricity. It's more the emotional support she is missing and which is, quite frankly, something she needs and, in my opinion, should have.
Having someone to lean on means you get to freak out in a new city, in a new state and not make it all make sense right away as you acclimate; it means you get to have mini melt-downs and panic attacks as you learn street names and road names. It means someone familiar and warm is sheltering you for a moment from the uncertainty and bigness of the world. And every woman deserves to have someone like this during times of transition, or any time at all.
In leaving my friend I vowed to be that person for my sons when they grow - to come to a strange city with them, if they want me to, and learn about the new place; or to be there for a friend if circumstances allow, to be a shoulder, to be a piece of home.
Aimee Boyle is a regular contributor to EmpowHER. She lives and works, writes and teaches in CT.
Edited by Shannon Koehle