goodbyes

the leaver gets left

10723492_10152322468907167_957048483_nI remember the night I said goodbye to my four best friends just four years ago. We sat in one of our driveways, atop a big hill, our stomachs filled with McFlurries and nuggets and sorrow. Goodbye swirled in our mind, touched our hearts.

We’d spent the drive with music loud. Music so loud you couldn’t hear sadness. That kind of music. And we’d danced and sung and our voices were the rhythm to the new drums we were beating.

I was the cause of everyone’s tears. As our McFlurrys turned salty with the taste of tears, I was the cause. I was the one leaving. And one, two, three, four, infinity times I’d wondered aloud about what I was doing moving eight hundred miles away. What was I doing leaving those who loved me?

And so my friends, the loyal ones who love nuggets and loud music and late night drives, they’d given me the simplest of answers: you don’t have to go.

And I didn’t have to. They were right. And for a million and one moments, I didn’t want to go. Starlit sky nights made me not want to go. But I went anyway. Despite my hesitations, despite their reservations, I went.

Fast forward four years, and I’m home again. No longer eating chicken or nuggets and no longer saving happiness in a cup of ice cream.

But I’m back in that same driveway. And I’m saying goodbye again, and as my feet shuffle, heavy like boots finding their way in a snow storm, and I get back into my own car—which for once isn’t stuffed to the brim with moving and packing and moving and packing—I realize that I’m not leaving. I’m being left.

The sense of sadness is familiar, yet it’s different all the same. Because I’m not choosing this. It’s not self inflicted, like a journey to the end of a rainbow with the hopes of finding a pot of gold.

I am here—in a static place—and CNN tells me that the world is moving on around me. I hear that things are happening. That not all paths are congruent as people seek out their pots of gold. And I am here, in a town that often I’ve wondered if it ever moves. Or maybe it’s me. Me that’s not moving. Maybe this town is just like the rest of the world, like this whole earth, and it’s moving, rotating as we find our way around the sun. Maybe it’s me that’s not moving.

Or maybe this is just what it feels like to be left.

For someone else’s arms to be wrapped around mine, as they take the first steps away—light and simple—into a car that’s fuller than the one we’d drive around on Friday nights. Only now the friends that once sat in the backseat have been replaced with suitcases large and full.

As full as we once used to be. Fast food filling our tummies. Friendship alive in our souls.

I wonder if maybe I owe a handwritten apology—a reverse thank you note printed in white and gold—to everyone I’ve ever left. To the swollen red faces with dripping tears. To the people who held my hand and kept me moving in the town that maybe moves, in the town that maybe doesn’t move. Because it was an accident. The sadness that trickled down the ladder, starting with me on the day I decided to leave. And it found its way into the hearts of those I love. It was an accident. But they hurt all the same. And maybe I could learn calligraphy and I could deliver I’m sorrys door to door, but nothing can reverse tears once they fall. Nothing can take away that ache in the back of your throat as a sob arises but you try—in vain—to wish it away.

So now, now I only have whispered thank yous—a reverse I’m sorry note printed in a forever way, held together by the type of hands that keep you moving. Thank you for loving me even though I left you.

tumblr_mmuzb60ABT1r8rc1po1_250Divided or together, we’re all searching for our own pot of gold. But the paths that were once parallel as we sat together in school, played in the forest on weekends, invented dream worlds for skinny little dolls, curved. And no longer are they parallel.

And we remember what they all used to say, the parents and teachers and field trip chaperones: if you’re lost, stay in one place. If you’re lost, someone will find you. And we’ve all been lost, we’ve all been found, we’ve all been lost again and again and again.

And the nice thing about home, about static, about the town that maybe isn’t even moving: it’s easier to be found.

And as we say goodbye, whispering see you soons, we only hope we’ll all end up in the same place. That we’ll all return back to the place where we feel found. That no road gets too windy to separate us forever. That no accidental goodbyes force us apart. That one day we’ll be pulled back like a yo-yo, and the music on the radio will be different and we’ll already be telling our own children about when we were their age, and fast food will probably be forbidden in our houses, but we’ll be back in that car.

We’ll be back and those memories will be back.

Flooding us, the way we once flooded sadness away with ice cream.

They’ll drown us—momentarily—as we grasp for solid ground, slamming on the brakes, hoping that we can stop moving for just a second. As we wonder where life went.

Where did those little girls go who once stood side by side in first grade photos wearing tumblr_ndiay4WTc51s2n35ho1_500matching dresses, shoes, headbands. Personalities different, hearts together.

Where did those girls go, the ones graduating high school with French fry crumbs in their hair and eyes as full with tears as hearts with dreams.

Where did those girls go, the ones hugging goodbye in the same driveway, back to the matching outfits. Plaid shirts and sorrow that mirrored the other’s.

And the flood will recede with the tide and the world will continue to spin, and we’ll be moving again, going forward again in a town that maybe moves, maybe doesn’t move.

And though we’ll hate to leave again—we’ll always hate to leave—we’ll go anyway, because we’re searching for our own gold. At the end of our own rainbow, in our own sky, because oceans now separate us.

And as I stood by, the roles reversed, no longer the leaver, now the one being left, I only wished for the moon to fall, for the sun to rise with rain in its reach, for a darkened sky to once again illuminate, for redorangeyellowgreenblueindigoviolet to appear, for the path that’s not parallel to appear.

It’s hard to leave. I know this. Have known this. Have known this since the day it was me with only twelve inches of space in a backseat packed full of life. But what I’m learning now is it’s even harder to be left. To be the one holding onto memories and moments and a brown bag of trash that smells like French fries and feels like fullness.

Eyes heavy, heart aching, the morning will come, and apart we’ll be. And you, closer to gold. And me, looking for the rainbow, waiting for the rainbow. In a town that maybe moves, maybe doesn’t move, knowing the rainbow will come. Knowing only gold can be waiting.  best-friends-bestfriends-bff-hands

Confessions of a Canadian: 04.09.14

This past weekend while doing some reflecting (watching The Mindy Project and listening to Celine Dion…just kidding, I also went on the START retreat), I came to a realization: I have been in school for 17 years. For 17 years, I have been a student. And because it’s been a huge part of who I am, I’m a little freaked out about what will happen in 38 days when I’m a student no longer, and instead a college graduate.

Life, I have found, is a series of stages. Within those stages, we learn, we grow, we get stronger and, with each step, we uncover new truths about ourselves. 

In my grade primary yearbook (that’s kindergarten, for you Americans), there was a survey asking us what we wanted to be when we “grow up.” My answer: a substitute teacher and a veterinarian. Clearly, I’ve always been a bit indecisive. During those days, my friends and I would play school at my house, where I had chalkboards and desks, and I would be Ms. Sampson. After my friends would leave, I would throw on a white coat and pretend to check my dog for serious diseases and then, of course, I’d cure her with a treat.

By seventh grade, the dreams had shifted. I wanted to be an architect. And Christmas gifts came in the form of a pink hard hat and pink tool sets. (If you ever need a pink hammer, I’m your girl.) In math class, we created 4D bedroom floor plans. Though mine was cool (Bratz themed, obviously), the bed was also nine yards squared. Quickly, I was learning math was not my strong point. So, once again, I moved on.

Onto high school, when I wanted to be a politician. I immersed myself in student government. I started out as a finance minister (which I’m sure my credit card company would be proud to hear), and I finished out my high school student government career as Prime Minister. And though my high school peers may have voted me “Most Likely to be the next Canadian Prime Minister” in the yearbook superlatives, I decided to leave the country instead.

Onto a new stage.

Onto a new part of life.

And knowing me, onto a new career choice.

I was going to be a marketing major. I was going to design cool advertisements, and I was going to sell Trix to the whole entire world. Because Trix are not just for kids. 

Here I am, four years later…not a marketing major. Instead, I’m an English major. An English student in this crazy accounting world.

An English student who’s about to be an English student no more.

It’s a funny thing—to say goodbye to the title you’ve held for 17 years. To say goodbye to GPAs, professors, homework and cramming for exams. To say goodbye to the one constant I’ve had. 

And it’s stranger, still, to say goodbye to school. This school. The school where I fell in love. With donuts. The school where I learned that family isn’t just blood relatives, but instead the people who take you in during freak October snowstorms. The school where I finally realized that education is about more than a grade. The school where I realized a major is more than a fast track to a post-grad job; it’s about capitalizing on who are you as a person—the way you think, the way you work, the way you are. 

While it is strange (and depressing) to say goodbye to the changing external factors, it’s comforting to know that even when the English-major-student title disappears, I am still a thinks-like-an-English-major person.

No longer will I be scrawling prose out on my notebook margins in the middle of a college lecture; instead, I’ll probably be covering work documents with words and stories (future employers, please disregard that statement). Because, what I’ve learned is that removing a label doesn’t change you—it frees you. 

Will I miss saying I’m a student when passport control at the U.S./Canadian border asks for my occupation? Yes. But because I no longer have to say student, and because I no longer have to be a student, the options are pretty endless. And    is freeing. I am who I am. And that’s a girl who loves words—reading them, writing them, watching them be said by low-paid actors in Hallmark movies. And that can’t change no matter how many titles I say goodbye to, and no matter how many phases of life I shift through.

In the words of my good buddy Timbaland, this is the way I are. (Dear Timbaland, if you’re looking for a grammar editor, I’ll be available in 38 days.)

 A new stage of life is quickly approaching. And that’s intimidating. Goodbyes are intimidating. What’s next is intimidating. What’s comforting, however, is knowing that some things will forever and always be the same: Celine Dion will always be a goddess. Mindy Kaling will always be hilarious. I will always be the way I are. You will always be the way you are. 

And, most importantly, donuts will always be delicious—gluten filled or not.