Every time I've moved, I've meant to stay in touch with the people I leave behind. Yet over the years they slip through my fingers. Sometimes I realize I have to let go. Life has moved on, distance seems insurmountable, and interests have changed. I've even found "you can't go home again" to be at least partly true. A person returning to a place they've lived before is likely to end up with a new set of friends within a few years, only retaining a few of the "originals."
I've moved a lot in my life, which might be why I feel confident of the above senario. Until I was 41 I had never lived in the same house for longer than 4 years, and most of them no more than 2 or 3 years. And even though my closets stayed cleaner, each move was wrenching in its own way. After a while you know. Even as you tell yourself and others that you'll "keep in touch" you know. For most of the people involved, without the bonds of common encounters, there will be a gradual lessening of contact until it is a card at Christmas and a recap of each other's year.
Thankfully there will be a few who hang on. A few who have such a shared history that it is impossible to leave them behind. But these people are fewer than one might think. For most people there needs to be a "meeting place," a point of connection, a regular area of contact. That place can't depend on the actions of one or the other person. It usually needs to be something set from outside. A church service, a book club, a forum, a workplace.
If the place is not there, then we are like Yeats's falcon:
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
In our culture, the center has collapsed. We are isolated units driving miles to find an artificial community for our children in sports and activites. In exhaustion we seek to maintain connections that once came naturally with community, neighborhood, and family. Our support base is not secure, our networks are incomplete, our center hasn't held. We have sped off in ever widening circles, sometimes through no fault of our own, and we cannot hear our companions anymore.
The internet has contributed to finding wider community and support on one hand, while at the same time making the connections all the more fragile. It's like every time someone turns off their computer they have moved away again. It's easier than ever to leave, to drift away, to shut down, to disconnect.
I'm loyal by nature and can't easily say good-bye. But times they are a'changing, and I fear more slow good-byes are in my future. More changes, more wondering why it takes Herculean effort to establish a history with others and then keep it going.