Last night my co-worker and I met up with a former intern and her boyfriend for a dinner and a few drinks. The intern has graduated our program and is moving out of state to be with her boyfriend, who is still finishing up his own master’s degree. It was a celebration for them, but flavored with a tinge of melancholy.

So many people are leaving.

It’s not unexpected. The small Southern town I live in is “big” only in regards to the state university that lives here. Frankly, only a very small number of people who move here expect to stay longer than five years — long enough to get a degree and then haul out.

As a society, we are used to this kind of transitory existence. Even people who grew up in one place their whole childhood have the expectation of moving far away for college and career. People move for better jobs, better schools, better recreation.

Is it a better way to live? I think we all have our lists of pro/con about it. It’s mostly just “how things are” though, so we make our decisions based on our personal priorities and don’t think about it much.

As our small group laughed and talked and shared stories last night, it really hit me that there was a really good chance I would never see this woman again. She’s a great person, smart and hard working, but our career tracks are going in different directions so I doubt we’ll meet up at professional conferences, for instance. And as much as we like each other, we’re not close friends who will get on a plane to visit as the years go by.

And personally, I don’t intend to stay in this town too much longer myself. It hasn’t reached it’s expiration date yet, but that’s coming up here in another year or so I think. Even my brother, who loves this place and really expected to stay here forever, might end up moving due to his wife’s career change. Soon, I’ll be the person packing up and moving away.

People leave. Somehow, we’ve adjusted to that, and we take it for granted. That doesn’t necessarily make it easier, though.

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