I don’t like goodbyes.
I can’t imagine that anyone enjoys them. Saying goodbye is like staring directly into the sun, facing the finality of a situation, and trying desperately to come up with the right words.
They’re painful, emotional, and awkward, and somehow always take you by surprise.
But, as awful as goodbyes are, I have spent all week saying them, often multiple a day.
I’ve gone on lovely outings with friends. I finally made it to the Aquarium, and I walked along the Seawall. I went through Stanley Park and took in lots of Vancouver’s stunning weather and scenery. I went to one of my favourite restaurants. And I’ve had friends over to my place and sat and talked and completely forgot about the time ticking by. And it was all wonderful.
But then, the end came. And suddenly, that end had to be acknowledged.
Because I’m moving across the country on Wednesday and it’s not a drive away. It’s an expensive, 5 hour plane ride. And going on these lovely outings will not be possible anymore.
Every goodbye was different, but they all had similar themes. I felt sad during them all. I also felt like I couldn’t say exactly what I wanted to. I felt put on the spot. I wanted to express how much these people mean to me, what incredible friends they are, what an important and valuable part of my life, but I also felt a desperate need for the bright light to be turned off and for the goodbye to be over.
I expected the sadness. I also expected the discomfort. But what I didn’t expect was an underlying feeling that ran through all of my lovely visits, that made me burst out mid-conversation, and then try to change the subject. A feeling that flared up every time I turned my back to a friend and walked away for the last time, for a while at least.
A feeling of panic.
Of course, it’s natural to feel a little anxious, perhaps more than a little, when undergoing a change. And I’m not only changing my location, I’m also taking a step to change my career. I am entering a program that is completely different from everything I’ve been working towards since the age of 10. And that is, quite frankly, terrifying.
But the panic seems to go beyond that. The thought of a fresh start, while unnerving and scary, holds an element of excitement. It is filled with space and potential.
This feeling is so vast that it has numbed me. When I think of the future, of my time in Ottawa, I don’t feel excitement, or worry, I feel nothing, see nothing. I try to come up with plans, but I cannot formulate them, or imagine them. But as I try I become very conscious of that underlying sense of desperation.
For some reason, I feel almost claustrophobic. And I don’t think it has to do with the unknown, but rather the idea of the previously known, but changed.
After all, I am not moving somewhere that I’ve never lived before. I’m moving back to my hometown. The place that I grew up in.
And I would like that to only make things better.
But so much has changed in the last three years. I don’t want to go back to my previous life, to slip back in to my previous relationships and habits. I have changed. And I’m sure others have too.
And as scary as starting anew can be, I seem to be finding it even more daunting to create a fresh start where a previous framework used to exist, and perhaps still does.
I fear that it will be easy for me to forget some of the things that I learned here. I fear that I will slip back into what’s comfortable. I fear that I will start to see myself for what I used to be, rather than for what I have become.
As I say goodbye to my friends, to the people who know the me who’s edges have been sculpted here in Vancouver, I fear that I am not only saying goodbye to them, but to part of myself as well.
But then again, even if I wanted to slip into an old persona, even if I tried, I can’t. On the most basic level, my body won’t let me. It serves as a constant reminder, sometimes a much needed reminder, that I have to do things differently. That I am different from what I once was.
Goodbyes are hard. Regardless of what is beginning on the other side of the door, it is difficult to leave a beautiful and happy room.
Change is also hard. It can be scary when so much is uncertain.
But I know that I can’t stay stagnant. I made the decision that I was ready to go back to school, and decided what and where I wanted to study.
And as overwhelmed as I feel, as sad, as uncertain, and as emotional, there really is no reason to feel panicked.
I am not moving back home. I am embarking on a new adventure. And I am lucky enough that as I explore there will be some familiar faces and street corners around me.