Friends are a vital part of who I am almost to a fault sometimes. There have been times in my life when I have cared too much what others think about me, and I have found my identity in the people I hang around with. In some situations I have allowed myself to be a doormat because I didn't want to be alone. In finally learning to be comfortable with myself and not get walked over, I am learning (from my mistakes) how to be a better friend.
A friend jogged my memory today by asking how long it took me to make friends in Kansas City. This made me try to remember the chronological order. When I arrived, I only knew a small handful of people. I knew the girl I've credited as being the one who "got me the job," and I knew a few people from school. On my first day here, I went into Walmart. I walked almost straight into a guy I had known from a summer program years before. "Matthew?" he asked. "Kansas City Ballet?" We quickly realized we were here for the same reason!
Thereby, most of my friendships began within the nuclear structure of my ballet family. Within the company, I became friends with a dancer who had a weekly "Writing Group" meeting. This was made up of dancers and non-dancers. She became the first to introduce me to people outside of the ballet. Things began to explode from then on.
Over the first and second year, I naturally expanded my reach from the walls of my job into the community. My closest friends were still in the company, and many of them are still some of my colleagues. I also began to work with another company in Kansas City as a guest artist. There I met a whole new community of artists.
All of these relationships have served me in wondrous ways over my years here, and I feel that overall, these friendships have been mutually beneficial. There have been extreme highs and extreme lows, and through them many of the people I have known here have become rocks in my life.
Why am I writing about this? Another frightening aspect of leaving my "home" is that I will be jumping into another pool. This time however, I already know even more people and have a family already in place. I don't take them for granted though. It's one thing to maintain long distance relationships with friends, but to suddenly throw myself onto their turf for good is another thing. I have no doubt that I will be welcomed with open arms, but still, I want to be sensitive to those around me. There will be adjustments to be made.
I am deeply saddened to be moving away from my Kansas City friends and family. In some areas, they watched me grow up more than immediate family over the past decade. I have always been good at staying in touch with people, but I am well aware that not everyone does this with such diligence as I. That's ok. I know that it isn't necessarily a reflection on our friendships, but the thought of losing touch with people makes me grieve.
I didn't know where this entry was going when I began writing it tonight. Now I do. It has begun to sink in for the first time tonight how profound this "good-bye" is. I hope that my friends and I will be able to stay in touch. I guess I'll find out soon enough.