Last week we headed out of the city for the first time in far too long. Our destination was Forest View Ranch, a farm an hour and a half north in the redwoods with rustic guest cabins and cottages. Several of our closest friends and their kids joined us, making it a celebratory and bittersweet goodbye trip for us before our move. Having energetic young kids in a big city like SF is exhausting, and I was excited to be someplace for a week where we could let them run wild. Isaac and I both grew up with lots of room to roam in nature – one of the reasons we want to move is to get that for our kids, and this proved to be a bit of a test run for our future in remote New Zealand. As soon as we pulled up on the crunchy gravel of the driveway, it reminded me of Isaac's parents property where we're moving. Everywhere were blossoming gardens, fruit trees, stone-lined paths leading to a fire pit or an outdoor soaking sub, and trees to climb. The kids ran to the giant tire swing arching over the creek, chased the chickens, and climbed on the rusted old farm equipment with minimal supervision and it felt so safe compared to the city.
It took just a few hours for us to realize how absolutely done with living in the city we are. "The kids are going to love the island," we both said to each other as Ari crawled across the grass and Jude collected sticks. While it's easy to focus on the parts of our move I'm excited for, there's plenty I'm apprehensive about. Friendships most of all. Having lived in San Francisco for the majority of my 20s and 30s, the friends I've collected here are like family at this point. They've known me through various apartments, phases, and jobs over the years, and most were even there when I met Isaac at Burning Man.
My experience of friendships has been that the number of close ones you've got dwindles slowly as you age, then shrinks even more when you have kids. So the folks who have stuck around this long are precious gems. While our kids were chasing balls around the lawn one evening we imagined how odd it will be for me to come back for a visit and their child will be seven, or our kid will be four, or that baby will be walking and talking. Losing such regular contact with this family will break my heart. But perhaps we'll form a new one in New Zealand. I imagine meeting parents at playgrounds, or deepening the relationships I have with my extended family of in-laws there. We'll seek out community and find it somehow, all without losing any love for this one we've built in SF.
It may be lonely for a while, but all of that sounds worth it when I imagine hanging up a tire swing of our own, or hooking up the hot water to an outdoor soaking tub we designed, or looking my rambunctious child in the eye and saying, joyfully, "go outside!"