My visa came through today.
I've spent 30 years in Arizona. My dad was in the military; we moved around a lot. When I was 17 I hitch-hiked out to Arizona, and... never left. I put down the roots I'd never had.
I got the rest of my family to move out here. The siblings both met their spouses in Tucson; Dad met his wife in Italy, but settled her in the Phoenix desert. Mom found a job she loved teaching on the Reservation. I went to college here, started a business and a karate dojo. Raised 4 dogs, beginning with my brother's dog Tippy, who had been born in Tucson while he was visiting, moved to Ohio when he came back, and then moved back to Tucson with me. Also including the infamous Yahzi, whom I found by the side of the road on my way to my mother's funeral. Eventually I even got married.
I put down roots like an Irish potato farmer in springtime.
But time has a way of eroding even the strongest foundation. People move away, and things die, especially dogs.
Then I met Sara, or rather, read a post by her on-line at good old Internet Infidels (which, appropriately enough for this story, has since passed on itself). I dragged her out here from Australia because I had a good job and dogs. I don't have either of those anymore, but what I do have is a daughter.
And what little Sophie has in Australia is a family of cousins close to her own age, living in the same city.
So I am packing up and moving out. Fitzgerald was wrong, at least for me: it's time for my second act, although to be honest it feels like a whole new show.
I still have a few treasured friends here, and leaving them is naturally hard. What is surprising is how hard it is to leave the acquaintances, like my veterinarian, who spent his Easter holiday in the hospital trying to save our lovely Galla, or the waitress in the Thai restaurant who knows me so well I don't have to order anymore (perhaps not so surprising since I've been eating the same thing there for 25 years). I will miss the chance moments I had with those good people, just as I will miss my friend's kids who think of me as an uncle.
But I won't miss everything. This new beginning is an ending, too, a chance to bury the past and exorcise those sad ghosts. Or so I keep telling myself. But of course the past is always buried, moment by moment, even if we pretend otherwise. The future is always crawling towards us, like Chun the Unavoidable.
So I am off to a brave new world, a charming adventure down under. I am going to take the good memories (and email addresses) and leave the bad. I'm going to start over, although not completely from scratch since we're taking all our furniture.
And who knows? In another 30 years maybe I'll do it again.