The morning after Punchline, I got up and trucked into Uniontown for a pre-Christmas haircut, which is where my mother let me know that Uncle Butch and Aunt Marianne had both died–she’d let me know about Uncle Butch the day before, but Aunt Marianne followed overnight.

I swung by my parents’ for a little bit, tossed in some laundry, used Brandon’s Amazon Prime account on my parents’ fancy smart TV to start watching The Man in the High Castle, and got invited to lunch with my mom and her best friend, which would’ve been fun, but Paul and I were heading off to McKeesport for Terra’s going away party and were already gonna be fashionably late. But the party, according to Terra, ran from 1:00 until whenever we got sick of her.

See, between me writing this and when it actually happened, Terra moved to Norfolk, Virginia, with Scott–finally. After a few years of him being enlisted while she finished grad school and living apart, she’s graduated and run off to be with him, as she should.

There was a time a few years ago–and not all that long ago, really–when my friends moving away was my worst nightmare. I never wanted to be without them, somewhat selfishly, although it had much more to do with truly loving my friends and not wanting any of us to be apart. Unfortunately, that changed, and messy falling outs meant that moves provided with some much-needed time apart and space, which is sad. Sad that it happened, sad that it got to the point where I had that attitude. And even though Terra’s absolutely my best friend and I’m gonna miss her, I never once had that same feeling of dread that I did, say, in high school or college when we’d all talk about our futures. Maybe it’s maturity, maybe it’s just the closeness and strength of our friendship, maybe it’s both, but I wanted her to go for her. Moving to Norfolk means she can have a mostly normal life with her husband, one where they finally live together and see each other daily–except for deployments and such.

It also hasn’t set in yet that she’s gone. I went through a similar thing with Meri, even though Meri was sending group texts from the airport as she was going. It’s like it’s not real to me until I really feel an absence. Terra and I usually messaged almost daily, even if it was just a quick few sentences. Obviously, we still do that. We actually saw each other pretty infrequently–we’ve lived an hour apart or more almost our entire friendship, except for a brief stint in high school where she stayed with a friend in my town, our two years rooming together and college, and the six months I lived in Pittsburgh. So it won’t be until we go somewhere and she’s not there or we can’t invite her that I won’t feel like she’s actually a few hours away.

But her going-away party was nice and low-key, mostly close friends and family. It was a good opportunity to hang out and enjoy each other’s company for what I thought would be the last time, but we did get more one round a few days later. We also exchanged Christmas presents–I got her this awesome Groot shirt and an Origami Owl necklace, and she gave me bonus gifts for “getting her through grad school” by proofing every single paper, project, and PowerPoint she ever did. So I got some cool homemade jewelry, cat tights, and a Peggy Carter Funk Pop. She lives with Mulder and Scully.

We hung around for a good while. The funny thing about our friendship with Terra is that as she and her family move into different stages of life, the dynamics change–I still have friends that I got out and drink with, and sometimes that is still Terra, but bigger events also mean kids are there. And what’s funny is how normal and fun it is. I get why so many of my peers aren’t ready for kids yet and even don’t like kids, but we had fun watching Scott chase his nephew, Morgan, and Terra spinning her niece, Betty Jo (short for Elizabeth Josephine), around in circles with her. It was also very entertaining to watch Scott and Dom race with the children perched on their shoulders, and poor Betty was up so high and moved so fast that she looked horrified. She never cried, but the kid was clearly not happy and did not think the races were fun. Morgan, however, did.

And then Sunday, we saw Star Wars.

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