If there’s one thing that I’m tremendously bad at, it’s saying goodbye to people.
Before any major life change, I turn myself into what I consider to be an overemotional, generally silly person prone to bouts of sentimentality and grasping for hidden significance where there simply isn’t, or doesn’t have to be. This habit of pre-emptively mourning the temporary loss of life situations means that I spend the weeks prior to any strongly anticipated loss in a moody haze of heightened significance.
I look for lasts. I manufacture poignancy. I try to elevate each moment to truly wondrous heights. I foolishly believe that these past months, this beautiful semester, these laughter-filled weeks with my family, are the best that life will ever be.
While this strange, anticipatory grief is not always something that I appreciate at the time, it does allow me to find the moments that I will miss as we all progress to our next steps that this new year brings. For me, that will be the study abroad experience I’ve dreamed about for years. For some of my friends, that means moving onwards from Siena, something that has either happened in the past few weeks or will take place at the end of this academic year. For some, it will simply be the beautiful newness that little transitions hold, one year melting into the next with some elusive promise enclosed.
Despite the beautiful anticipation of this newness, I still cling to the memories that the past few months have brought me. I listen to the music that brought my friends and me through the essays and exams of finals week. I let my arms remember the phantom embraces of people I miss, friends I don’t know when or if I’ll see them again. My nose remembers the unique scent of coffee and pickles of my favorite coffee house in Albany, a city that saw me as a stranger until I came to call it my home for the first time in these last months. I feel the peace of sitting and singing with my friends on the last Wednesday of the semester, the whole of the semester coming to a close in that dark and holy space. I think of the smiles of game nights with my extended family, people I love and don’t get to spend nearly enough time with. I see the love and concern of my parents as we take each day as it comes, tackling the tasks of the day with laughter and a hint of stress.
I’m not good at saying goodbye, regardless of how exciting or fulfilling the future likely will be. I can’t help but look backward as often as I look forward. However, this duality allows me to carry the sweet past into the likely sweeter future.
Wishing you well in 2016,