Sunday, 2 March 2014

The one who moves away

It’s a funny feeling being the one who moves away.

I get a lot of “It’s been too longs!” or “When are you coming back for a weekend?!” and I answer and go “I know, I’ve just been so busy and haven’t had the chance to come home, I’ll let you know when I’m back and we can go out.”

I explain that for me to get home at a price that doesn’t cripple me I take the Megabus. Unfortunately the times that the Megabuses run are not convenient if you work Monday-Friday so for me to come home I either have to take a Friday off work, or not arrive until 1.30pm on the Saturday afternoon.

And then I stop and think.

Where are the messages and texts saying “When are you free? We’ll make a trip up to see you!”? Where are the people offering to sacrifice their precious annual leave to make the trip over to the Midlands?

But of course I don’t get those messages.

Because I’m the one who moved away.

Birthdays tend to be a good example. I was asked recently whether I would be coming back to Hull for someone’s birthday in May. I was told that it didn’t need to be expensive because they were probably just going to go out for a meal and go to the cinema.

I have to take a deep breath with these situations. I want to ask people to really think for a second what they’re asking me to do. In this case I’m being asked to take time off work to come back to Hull to go to the cinema…

It would be fine if people accepted that you couldn’t come back for everything but unfortunately they can’t. Everyone likes to think that they’re special (myself included) and that someone would want to come back for their birthday, if you don’t then it’s taken as a rejection of friendship.

And yet, let’s talk about my birthday. Nobody says to me “Right, so when are we coming over for your birthday then?” instead I’m asked what I’m doing and I’m asked if I’m coming back to Hull to celebrate.
Because I’m the one who moved away.

Coming back has now become a stressful experience rather than the relaxed feeling you should get upon returning to the city that I love. It’s become a military exercise of trying to shoehorn everyone in and trying to keep everyone happy. Least of all has it become about spending time with my Mum.

You know, my retired Mum who is almost 70 and lives on her own and might actually enjoy having her daughter around to spend time with. A daughter who doesn’t come home and stay there for five minutes before dashing out to meet up with someone for coffee/go out for a night out. It’s not like we have grand adventures planned, but she likes to make dinner for me and watch a bit of rubbish TV and wander over the fields to Matalan. It’s simple but it’s what we like to do and I hate that my time with her becomes compromised or becomes something that I fit in around when everyone else is free to meet up with me.

In fact it’s so bad that when my Dad and his partner actually left Hull to move down to Somerset I was basically relieved. One less visit to try and cram in when I venture back home.

I’ve even thought about sneaking trips back home to see Mum so I can avoid the guilt trips that follow when I’ve been back and haven’t had chance to see absolutely everyone I know that lives in Hull.

Being the one who moved away means that you are simultaneously expected to make new friendships whilst maintaining the ones back at home. People resent you for making new friends and moving on, having new in-jokes and “You had to be there” stories. But at the same time, people resent you for not keeping up-to-date with their news – after all you should be the one constantly checking in and finding out what’s happening,

Because you’re the one who moved away.


  1. I know exactly what you mean. I moved to London a decade ago. I can count on two hands the number of visits I've had. On the other hand, I've spent a lot of my hard earned cash travelling back for all the birthdays and other special occasions. I have a little boy now and it hasn't changed. Since having him, I've learned that the frequency of my trips home doesn't affect the relationships I have, and I wish I had learned this a lot earlier - it doesn't matter if I skip a month or two going home, in fact people are more likely to want to meet up, and we have even more to talk about.

  2. I know exactly what you mean. I left my home town to go to University in Leicester and never moved back. Since that time I was always expected to fit everyone in on a weekend's trip. Hardly anyone came to visit me, or if they did it was once every few years. I'd like to add that this pattern did not change when I became sick and I was still the one who had to go and visit even though the trip would cause me physical pain and lay me low for several days after. Then it got to the point where my health got so bad I made a decision to only see my family when I went home. It was a relief and after a while I stopped feeling guilty. I've now reached the point where I literally couldn't see anyone other my family and I only have enough strength to spend a few hours at each house. At Christmas my visit to my family laid me out so badly that I've still not really recovered from it, plus I couldn't go and see my in-laws at Christmas because I couldn't get out of bed. And still everyone asks "when are we going see you" because apparently having kids to travel with is so much of a hassle that their inconvenience outweighs my extreme pain for weeks at a time. When you reach that point you stop worrying about feeling guilty for not going back to visit. The motorway runs in two directions. If they don't come and visit now, they never will. It's time to decide if they are really friends if you are the only one who has to travel to get together.

  3. I moved house about eight months ago now, and I feel exactly the same way. Not all the time, but there are just some moments when I wish my friends would make more of an effort to come and see me. It's only about an hour away but it adds up, and it's hard when it seems as though I'm the the one that makes everything difficult because I moved, and so therefore only I should have to make the effort. But the last time I checked, that isn't how friendship works. Luckily I've recently talked about this a bit more openly with them and they seem to understand a bit more. But definitely, go back and spend quality time with your mum, that's what's most important and true friends should understand that xx

  4. I get this. And I've only recently moved. I've actually experienced this before I moved. In nearly ALL my friendships, I have always had to be the one to travel to the other person. Despite the fact I don't drive. It wasn't until recently when I talking about going to my Dad's that my husband said, "But why does your Dad never come to you?!" and it struck me. All those years of me getting three trains (2 hour journey), having to be picked up for a 10 minute drive from the station to their house. At Christmas and birthdays, having to haul massive bags of presents and luggage. They have a car that they could have jumped in a car to see me in 30mins! And likewise, My Mum is the only one who has ever really made the effort to come and see me, getting buses and walking! I don't mind, but it would be nice for once if it wasn't me! x

  5. I know your pain. I was the first to move away and have children but I still seemed to do all the travelling.

    I gave up in the end, I lost a few friendships but then they weren't really true friends, were they?

  6. I sometimes feel like this, but with friends who live near - or even in the same city as - me. Like I'm ALWAYS the one who suggests meeting up or goes out of my way to arrange events or who does the travelling to see them. Sometimes I just feel like giving up, but I try and remind myself that they probably don't even realise how hurtful it can be.

  7. I moved 400 miles away from my family and friends 12 years ago. I can count on one hand how many times family (other than my mum) and friends have visited. My own brother even said to me "Well you're the one that moved away" Visits home used to be a nightmare like yours are right now, now I just pick and choose who to see when I go back. If anyone moans I tell them "They're welcome to come visit me"

  8. Interesting.

    I come at this from the other side. I remain *here*, others have moved away to *there* but generally I actually prefer going to visit and see new places and not having to host. I can't say that in my experience I've felt that those who have moved are particularly bothered either way whether we go see them or not; they've not really said "come and visit me?" and without being specifically invited, I'd feel a bit weird being "sooo, when can I come see you?" like I'm imposing myself upon them in their space when they may not even want me to visit... I suppose what I'm saying is - have you invited them to come and see you or suggested that perhaps they could do so?

    I have a friend that lives in a city that I know you hold dear to your heart and that I fully intend on visiting at some point. However, I wouldn't call this a 'close' friend, more a 'group' friend and it's hard to arrange to see this person on my own without the group dynamic. I'm willing to try because there's a lot to do and see in the city so I'm sure it wouldn't matter than much that we're not that close but I would prefer it if there were others there too. It's just difficult to co-ordinate everyone, is the problem, which is why group meet-ups tend to be held in a central and mutually convenient location for those who are here and those who are there, and it ends up being preferable for most people to have it here.

    So what arrrre you doing for your birthday?

  9. Yep I hear ya. I'm one of those who moved away too. You soon learn who your real friends are. Although sometimes even your good friends just don't get in. Sometimes they just need to spend the day in your shoes. xx

  10. I get the exact the same thing with my hometown and the ones who didn't move away. I've taken to taking sneaky trips back home as well so I can spend time at home with my parents and brother. And actually, I get similar things with Manchester. Even London to a certain extent with the number of friends who moved there. Thankfully, no family to try and cram in there but everyone knows, when you move to London, whatever you do, you do NOT visit people in other parts of the country. People come to London. Because London is the centre of the universe. Sigh. I digress. People need to realise that not being able to get there, is not a rejection of friendship, you're just not able to get there!

    Fell your pain.

    Jen |


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