It doesn’t feel real because you haven’t left yet. I’m sitting in the MARs Discovery District thinking about it. I don’t know why it upset me so much that it tainted my walk, that I couldn’t even enjoy trespassing on an exciting secret without thinking of you and interpreting what it means when you will have left.
I have never liked goodbyes. I find them awkward, I find them bittersweet, I find that I can’t rile enough energy and emotion to feel whatever emotion is supposed to be saddled up with goodbyes. It’s not sadness, because it’s not truly the end. But there’s this faint hunch that maybe it is, that as the months go by and the words remain unsaid, the dust and the elements will just wear them down until they have no teeth left to make a mark. I don’t know how I’ll feel on that last day, that this ends. That this friendship ends. That the camaraderie ends. That I will feel lost, that I will be heartbroken, but I won’t be sad. I won’t be too excited, but I have emulated enough traits to know what happiness should look like. That in the back of my throat will be everything I never said to you. That in that last moment that will probably be unremarkable, we part. That it just ends. That it always just fucking ends without an ending that satisfies me.
Maybe I just loved the punchline. I love the witty last word. I love a goodbye so sharp and satisfying that it becomes a legend, it becomes a video clip that people replay, that people think back to that whole event and just think of how sweet it ends. Maybe I’ve never had an ending like that, that ends so abruptly and sears so much devastation in me that I shatter.
There was something about you. No, there is something about you. Because the first time I ever met you, I thoroughly disliked you. I thought you were arrogant, I thought you were bland, I thought I would hate you. And I certainly don’t love you, as we fast forward half a year. But I’ve learned to respect you, to admire you, to believe that you are a good person and probably a better person than I am though I’m trying. I’ve learned to trust you, I’ve learned to believe in myself, although these lessons weren’t things that you intentionally tried to teach me, and you didn’t necessarily teach them to me in a positive way.
I will miss you. I don’t know why. So many people fade out of my life, but for some reason, I know I will miss you. And it doesn’t make sense because for the longest time, and even now, I think of you with some bitterness. That you have been given all this privilege, that you strive to be a good person, and that you almost have everything set for you in your life so long as you “try hard enough”. Because you’re hard-working, you’re genuine, you’re intelligent, and you’ve got a great competitive advantage in terms of every demographic checkbox you can select on a questionnaire. And that makes me mad, it makes me frustrated. That you just had it so much easier (did you notice that I didn’t say you had it easy?). That I am constantly playing catch-up. That I will never play in these big leagues that have no space for people like me.
But I digress. Because this isn’t about me, this is about you. This is about your goodbye. This is about why I’m struggling to understand why I am so sad about your departure. This is about me connecting the dots about what has happened, who I am as a person, who I want to be, how I get there….
I read this book recently called Spinster, and it has me doing a lot of self-reflection. About the person I want to be, whether or not I’m afraid of growing up alone, if I’m averse to intimacy, to trust. I can’t open up. There are too many secrets that define who I am; I would probably unravel if I were to expose them. There are too many secrets from my childhood that influence who I am today, that have helped me grow up and explore the concept of who I want to be when I grow up, what I value, what I want to do, whether or not it’s okay to change my mind, whether or not it’s okay to feel good enough.
I think I feel lost without you, in the manner that I had some token in the form of yourself to strive for as I grew up. That I didn’t want to be you, but I knew where the bar was set. That you had the great job, the great family, the great career, the great reputation, the great life, the great identity, and I am here trying to figure out who I am and figure out how I can climb those stairs and hills to get there. And I just had this target to try to reach.
But one thing that always bothered me was the way you talk. Like it’s rehearsed, like it’s everything that people want to hear, like it’s almost an insincere conversation if you’re talking to a pessimist like myself. Maybe I’m too guarded; I can’t help it. Maybe I am the worst person ever, and that’s quite possible. But I have struggled to trust you even when I have wanted to, because I can’t get over how you seem so nice and presidential, and there are no rough edges. Like it’s not authentic, like when you’re speaking to me, it’s How to Have a Conversation 101 and I am so ready to play along because I do the same thing. Maybe we’re more alike that I had thought; maybe that’s why I find it so hard to like you and why I find you so intriguing.
I don’t know what it will be like without you around. I’m a bit afraid to figure it out. I’m scared because I think it will break me in a way that I will try everything in my will to stop but inadvertently, I will be torn into a million pieces. I will feel like I was never significant in your life -and maybe I won’t be, but I think we seek validation from people we respect. I think why I feel so scared is because I never prepared myself for this. Because so many books and so many stories have prepared me for situations in life that I haven’t had to make errors while experiencing. But I never got to prepare for an early departure, I never got to bask in my bitterness and anger and let that be my go-to reaction to this news. So here I am scrambling for understanding, wading in the confusion of my thoughts, having all my hopes and dreams scattered around while I’m scrambling to pick up the pieces and tuck them hastily into my briefcase.
Thank you. I don’t know what to say. Thank you for all the lessons you have taught me. Thank you for being a good friend, for being a better friend that I ever could have been. And I will not miss you. I’m sure about that. But I will be so sad. I will be so sad for a while, musing at how sad it must be for the people who get left behind. Because now I understand.
I understand now.