Back to San Diego

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I am headed back to San Diego for a few days. I don’t think I’m ready to go. I want to stay in our new town, set down roots, build up friendships, discover new places to eat and play. I am not ready to face our dream home, now inhabited by another family. But my 9-year-old daughter, Karissa, wants to return to our previous hometown. There are other reasons to go…my husband can visit clients…I have made arrangements with PR people to visit this and that…we’ve made plans with friends. We feel obligated, so we’re going, ready or not.

Back to San Diego - Turning cartwheels at the beach in San Diego

Bailey and Karissa turning cartwheels on the beach in San Diego not long before our move (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

My daughter gets weepy lately. Her eyes pool with tears. She is one for exaggeration, but this feels different. She claims she has no friends, no REAL friends, no one she can “trust.” Her teacher insists Karissa has plenty of friends. But there is a hollowness in her now that haunts me.

I am surprised by how much love she has heaped onto a friendship that seemed situational prior to our departure. We lived three doors down. Our children were of the same genders and nearly the same ages. I like to drink wine. So does their mother, my friend.

My daughter misses their daughter, Bailey, terribly. While sweet, Bailey takes after her father…kind but detached. When we lived in San Diego my daughter talked much more about her friends at school, friends in the same grade. Bailey is one year younger.

Karissa never talked about her love for Bailey when we lived there. But who blathers on about the love of their foot or their hand or their finger? It’s always just there. It’s something we don’t know we want and need unless it is taken away from us.

On a Saturday morning or school day afternoon we could easily text or call, “OK if I send K over to play?” Or, “We need a distraction, send your kids over?”


It was simple. And that is what is missed. The simplicity of friendship. The ease of being. Karissa and Bailey met before they had memory of meeting. It was not hard won. It was not difficult to find. It was just always there. Like your foot, or your hand or your finger.

And now that lack of familiar friendship has left a hole in my daughter. Karissa picks at the wound, not ready for her heart to heal and move on.

About Colleen Lanin

Colleen Lanin is the founder/editor-in-chief of As the author of her book, "The Travel Mamas' Guide," she teaches parents not only how to survive a trip with children, but also how to love exploring the world with their offspring. Her stories have appeared online and in print for such outlets as the "Today" show,, Parenting Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, Chicago Tribune, Expedia, San Diego Family Magazine, and more. Colleen gives tips on television, radio, and as a public speaker. She has a master’s degree in business administration with a background in marketing. She lives in Arizona with her husband and two kids.

  1. Lisa Goodmurphy says

    Oh, Colleen, I feel so bad for you – it must be heartbreaking to see Karissa going through a hard time adjusting to her new school. Hopefully the trip to San Diego goes well. Perhaps returning to see her friend will help her to realize that they can stay in touch and continue to be friends even if you are in Arizona and even if she makes new friends there. I don’t think there’s anything harder than watching our kids feel sad about something we can’t fix.

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      Lisa – Thank you for your sweet words of support. That saying, “Moms are only as happy as our least happy child” is so true. I am hoping this trip back home will make things easier for her in Scottsdale and not worse.

  2. Ellen Lanin says

    I feel sorry for Karissa. As her grandmother I try to give her projects when I see her after school one day a week, but it would be easier if she was a little younger, like her brother who likes the extra fun. I don’t know any girls her age in our neighborhood since we have all lived and raised our kids here for many, many years. Maybe we can do some exploring now that the hot summer weather is going away.

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      Ellen (Mom!) I think it helped SO much that Karissa and Leo got to spend quality time with you yesterday! Thanks so much! 🙂

  3. It’s so tough moving. I always surprises me the things they latch onto that you thought were no big deal. I hope this trip works out well for your daughter.

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      Jody – Thank you for your kind words. I was surprised that both kids seemed perfectly happy yesterday, our first day home from our San Diego trip. I think it helped that we spent time with their beloved grandma, who lives here!

  4. Colleen, when my older daughter started 5th grade she switched schools and didn’t know anyone, and some things she said (and that her teachers contradicted) remind me of what Karissa’s feeling right now. I’ll always remember what one of her teachers said to me about this: “She has friendships, but craves more intimacy from them.” I bet your daughter’s the same way, she thrives on deeper relationships than we get from newer acquaintances. It’ll happen!

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      Jennifer – I think you are so right. I am going to try to help my daughter build deeper friendships by inviting classmates over more often. She is starting a film-making class next week too, so hopefully that will help. Your hubs would approve the class, huh?! 😉

  5. Lauren Hughes says

    I have just found your blog and was drawn straight away to the beautiful picture at the top, it is so care free and happy. I hope she has a fantastic weekend with her friends back home and that she settles with new friends in her new home soon 🙂

  6. I can imagine that this is a hard time. The transitions of moving are hard for all involved. I would say that it will get better…I moved about every 2 years when I was young and had to start over every time. She will adjust, but the transition may not be easy. Wishing you all the best on your return trip!

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      Thank you for your insight, Jenna. I can’t imagine moving every 2 years – that must have been so tough! I’d like to move again in a few years, but I’m not sure my daughter could handle it. We’ll see…!

  7. Moving is hard. Soon enough she’ll identify herself as an Arizona girl, instead of a California one.

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