Author | Photos Austin Ban

When You Say Goodbye to Moments, Not People

I just said goodbye again.

And I know, I know. POOR ME. Having to live in beautiful New Zealand in an equally beautiful lakeside town, drinking free coffee and making new friends every day. WHAT AN AWFUL LIFE.

But it’s hard! It’s hard to say goodbye. And when you’re travelling, it’s a different kind of hard.

I mean, I just said goodbye to David, and no. It wasn’t sad in the conventional way where we hugged and cried and looked at each other for a while. It was simple and honest and he told me he really appreciated how I looked at the world and I told him I loved that he was never afraid of real conversation. And then someone piped in to remind us we were both from the same country and this wasn’t goodbye. We could quite easily see each other again. And we both acknowledged we knew that, sure, but it would never be the same.

It wasn’t the fact we were saying goodbye to each other. It was saying goodbye to this moment. To this entire time in our lives that we weren’t sharing anymore. And regardless of if and when we run into each other down the road, we would never be able to recreate this experience – this moment in this season with these people. And I loved that we both understood that.

We told each other that sometimes you meet people and sometimes you don’t know them very well, but they impact you. And even though you might not exchange BFF necklaces, it matters. And that’s what this was. I was not experiencing a gut-wrenching goodbye with a best friend. I was simply saying goodbye to a lovely person who I am so, so happy I met; someone who made me think things and feel things; who impacted this time in my life.

Maybe that’s why it’s so hard to say goodbye on the road, because you’re not watching friendships get put on hold for a few months. You’re watching moments break apart, and you know it’s not the same as it was saying goodbye to people back home. There’s no coming back to this. As soon as one person leaves, everything changes, and this specific time – the way it was – is over. You’ll never come back to it. It’s an entire stage made up of people and conversations and the certain way the sun happened to set today. And that is what we’re saying a final goodbye to, time and time again.

And the thing is, you never get used to it. I mean sure, it becomes easier, because you’re expecting it and you know you’ll be fine and you know you’ll be the one leaving pretty soon. But it still hits you every time you cheers your final beer with that person or wave goodbye as they head towards the 1am night bus. It hits you that something is ending; life is changing again. And you know it’s okay, but there is a little piece of your heart that feels very sad and unprepared to do this again.

I do not want the point of this article to be about living in the moment and appreciating what we have because TIME FLIES, BABY, and before we know, it it’ll be gone. That is so cliché. But I do think that is, unfortunately, my point. Because it is so easy to become unaware of what you’re living – to become insanely desensitized to all the wonderful things and people and moments that make up your every day. Because in your normal day-to-day, life isn’t changing all the time. People aren’t waltzing in and out of your life on a regular basis. You aren’t hyper aware of what your life is because it stays relatively the same. And this sameness makes it really easy to forget what we’re even doing; to forget how much we really do like our jobs; how good we look in that new lipstick colour; how fucking FUN it was to catch up with Sam over a bottle of bubbly – and how lucky we are to exist in a world that has both Sam Hall and champagne in it.

It’s hard to embrace moments, because we don’t always realize we’re having them. And I don’t think that’s a bad thing. In a way it means we’re comfortable – and after living four months of discomfort, I understand the appeal a comfortable life can have. But I also think it’s great when we take a sec to actually think about our lives. When you travel, you’re in this cool mindset that everything and everyone is interesting and worth taking note of. Because it’s new. Because it’s different. But imagine if we looked at life as one giant trip? Clung on to this constant mindset that everything is worth taking note of?

Because really, all these moments that begin and end on the road are just moments within this life. And maybe they’re reminding us that our lives are quite interesting. Quite lovely. And quite worth taking note of every day.

1 Comment

  1. Diane Mitchell
    May 14, 2016

    It is so hard sometimes. Good to have the friendship and memories. The future is full of possibilities to connect with each other

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