Living afar, people I haven’t seen or chatted with in days, months, years. People I hoped to make a connection but have failed in numerous ways. People I can never see again. People who have passed on to some unknown void beyond this sensory deprivation tank we like to call Existence.
I wish I could say I think about you every day. I can’t, because honestly, I don’t. It might take me days to remember your laughter, your quirks, what music you used to love or currently love. Probably because we can’t physically see each other, living hundreds, maybe thousands, of miles apart. Probably because our schedules always clash, and we can’t find a time to sit down and chat. Maybe we’re too lazy. Maybe we’ve forgotten how much effort it takes to remain in contact with someone. We might’ve taken different career paths; some of you are engineers, chemists, musicians, artists, biologists, analysts, clerks, financial reps, sales reps, fill in the blanks with the corresponding occupation. Some of you haven’t finished school yet or are still attending school to attain your Master’s or Doctorate. Some of you have settled into your own camaraderie, have a specific grocery store or movie theater, or even a pub or bar. Some of you are engaged, married, expecting children, or barely mastering the wondrous craft called Raising Offspring. Some of you may have fallen off the face of the earth and even your closest friends don’t know where you are. The world may be relatively small compared to the vast galaxies, yet it’s still possible to slip into the cracks and disappear.
The point I’m trying to make is you’ve probably thought of me as often as I’ve thought about you. Depending on our relationship, “often” varies immensely.
I miss most of you.
There are a couple of you whom I wouldn’t mind leaving in the past. Forever you lot will roam in the Land of Lost Content, a place fit for personal archival purposes only. I might encounter you again, and I’ll assume a generic politeness. Smile, shake hands, ask the standard “how-have-you-been” questions, extend the invitation for coffee or lunch, and we curtsy out of each others’ paths. For all I know, my feelings will be mutual. I might be roaming in plenty of Lands of Never-Want-to-See-You-Again, and at this point, I couldn’t care less. I’ve wasted too much time worrying about pleasing everybody at the expense of my own self-worth and happiness. Sure, there might come a time when I’ll miss you and want to see you again and vice versa, but until then, it’s best our paths remain parallel.
To those I actually miss, I wish for the opposite. I want to gather all of you in a circle and converge into a glorious community of thought, family, friendship, loyalty, and mirth. It only makes sense to assimilate all the good in the world in order to create something wonderful, right? If only I could do so with my relationships, my friendships, family, and whatever bonds I hold dear. It proves difficult since I may appear aloof and distant. There are days I heavily invest my attention in my writing and reading, and in doing so, I tune everybody out. Just because I don’t speak with you every day at every hour at every minute doesn’t mean I despise you. I want to see you. I want to reach out, hug, maybe kiss you on the cheek, and just dwell in our company. Nauseating wish fulfillment, absolutely, but I can’t help it. I usually feel this way around mid-May, when graduation rears its head and sends everybody home. It’s what inspired me to write this article (consider it self-therapy), and for good reason. Students leave, classes end, diplomas are issued, theses are written and approved, and plans are made. New beginnings commence, and maybe that’s the reality I can’t grasp yet. New beginnings. Change. Stirring the status quo. And yes, I’ve been reminded this is a common fear, yet I’m one of those people who can’t easily accept it.
A week ago, I said goodbye to somebody I wish I could’ve gotten to know better. We both had parallel paths, and I wanted them to intersect. It was a doomed fantasy. Our schedules differed greatly, and we rarely had opportunities to hang out. I knew ahead of time that he was leaving, yet I refused to acknowledge the departure. In my foolish mindset, if I didn’t think about it, it didn’t exist. I withdrew myself, vowing not to get too close. Even then, I grieved, because that wasn’t how I wanted it to unravel, and that was how it was for the next few months until his last week arrived. Working our last shift together was a tougher ordeal than I had anticipated. I couldn’t even bear to look at him. It hurt too much. There was plenty I wanted to say and do, but I had to except the fact there wasn’t much sense in saying or doing anything. He needed to follow his path, and I needed to follow mine. Additional comments would’ve been superfluous and creepy, so I kept my mouth shut, smiled, and said I was going to miss him, joining his Twin Cities friends’ sentiments. I didn’t want to let him go when we hugged. I was already missing him, and I’m certain my silence communicated everything to him. I didn’t want him to see me cry, and that’s how it transpired. I bawled on the way to the bus stop, furiously brushing away my tears and attempting to swallow the lump in my throat to no avail. I wanted to see him again. I wanted a mulligan, another chance at a meaningful goodbye. Unfortunately, the truth dawned on me again. I said all I could say in that moment. I would only be reiterating what he already knew. The moment passed, and I had to move on. So that’s where I am now. Moving on.
He wasn’t the first emotional goodbye I’ve had to suffer. The departure of my older brother, when he first moved to Thousand Oaks to establish a new life, was my first unfiltered taste of sadness. It introduced the bittersweet reality that people are called in different directions and must adhere to this ethereal demand. It eased me into the future goodbyes of my high school friends, college friends, and elder congregation members who were lucky to escape this murky deprivation tank, anything resembling a lengthy absence. It soon reached a point where I didn’t want to connect with anyone for fear of that dreaded moment proceeding that equally dreaded penultimate sobfest. Have I improved? Meh, maybe. Maybe not. I can’t give a definite answer.
I also can’t remember every single goodbye I’ve given. I’m not reserving any ill-will toward myself. That doesn’t mean I don’t care about you. Again, there are days I have to remember who you are or how we met. Sadly, there are days when I do remember you yet wonder if we were anything other than convenient acquaintances. Good Lord, I wish I was smarter than I am so I can stop being so irritatingly ambiguous.
The only consolation I can think of is the future. Yeah, I’m suggesting ambiguity to remedy the fear of ambiguity. Go figure.
To quote one of my favorite musicians Bjork, “Lust for comfort suffocates the soul.” As painful as being apart from him feels, as painful as it is to live far from my childhood friends and family, from those I haven’t seen in years and never will see again, I want to see my loved ones grow. I want to be surprised when I meet you again and discover new passions you’re pursuing. I want you to be surprised when you see me and compare how much I’ve grown or have yet to grow. After considerate thought, that Bjork quote embodies a terror that outlives and surpasses the fear of change. It’s the fear of stagnancy, the fear that I’ll despise any form of innovation.
The fear that I’ll start loathing my loved ones because they are changing while I’m refusing to change.
In other words, I want to learn to embrace change.
I want to lust for the zany, lust for things bright and new. I want to grow wiser and utilize my knowledge for something worthwhile and purposeful. I never want to stop learning. I want to remain a student for the rest of my life. In a peculiar sense, I want to remain naive and slightly foolish. More importantly, I want to master the art of saying goodbye. I want to embrace the sadness in a positive and healthy manner, if that’s at all possible. I like to think it is. Call me a dumbass. See if I care.
I convince myself time will unfold itself in its enigmatic correspondence. If I’m meant to see somebody again, I will. That doesn’t mean, however, I can’t try. As far as I’m concerned, it’s only goodbye if I let it be.
So, to the person I said goodbye to last week — you know who you are — I miss you. I wish I knew you more over the past few months. You possess a wondrous personality that effortlessly draws everyone to you, myself included. I love hearing you talk and laugh about your passions, tossing your carefree glance into the gorgeous canopy of the night. “Wonderwall” plays in my head every time I think about you. I want to hang out with you just to hear you talk about things you love and philosophies that fascinate you. I’ve cried over your departure. I still shed tears because I wake up and remind myself you aren’t here. I cannot wait until we meet again. I want to make it soon. Once the opportunity arrives, I’m hopping on the next plane to see you, and with the help of my own hometown friends, we’ll show you a great time in LA. Until then, take care of yourself and take comfort in knowing I enjoyed every moment we spent together. And I also hope this entire string of confession hasn’t creeped you out in the slightest.
To all the people I dearly miss, all the people I’ve encountered in my life up to this point, thanks for leaving an impression. I miss you all. I hope you miss me too. I also cannot wait to see you again, and if I don’t, like any other fool, I’m still hoping for the impossible.
That there’s a slight possibility we’ll see each other again.
Stay forever young.