It’s no easy thing to say goodbye.
After growing connected; attached. After getting used to the company, having laughed, argued, challenged, and grown with one another. Coming to terms with the reality that goodbye means going away and going away means forgetting. I think we all pretend that we’ll meet our old friends in a diner – over waffles – and talk like we did before we moved on, like we did when we were friends. But deep down – as we shake hands and give hugs and bid farewells – there’s the realization that if we meet again, it won’t be as friends but as strangers. We will be different people, shaped and hardened and weathered and christened by life. Recognizable but different; familiar but faint; bonded but distantly. Because that’s what a real goodbye is: an ending, accompanied by a sort of quietness. And you wonder if you’ll ever meet people like that again.
This month has been filled with farewells. Jarod Kintz said that goodbyes, they come in waves. Couldn’t have said it better myself. Finishing my first semester as a Residential Advisor, I’ve waved to peers, mentors, and friends alike, while wondering if I’ll ever see them again. Most cases, unlikely. A few, perhaps, in passing. We’ll stop and reminisce and bullshit each other about catching up sometime. And then we’ll carry on. You know, I think goodbyes are sobering. It’s the dose of reality that we all need. Because what’s worse than a goodbye is not being able to live with the idea that someone might leave.
But enough of the deep mumbo jumbo. This past year has been great. When I became an RA, a goal that I set for myself was to create an environment where people could take the memories of their freshman, or sophomore/junior/senior, year with them throughout their collegiate career. And, hopefully, they also made some life long memories as well. Not to suggest that everything should’ve been peaches and cream. In fact, I hope they struggled; I hope that they faced hardships, and inconveniences. That uncertainties created stress and pressure. That their years weren’t exactly what they had in mind. Because what value is there in good times, without the context of the bad ones? We need to be tested.
So that we can enjoy looking back; the late night talks, or the thoughts of long boarding until dawn. So that we can laugh at the trouble we gave one another, the nicknames and borderline bullying. I hope some of them can walk away with the stories of their drunken stupor, or tales of skinny dipping in public lakes; or marvel at the thought of a kidnapped duck roaming a residential hall. Cause hell, Kerr 6 was a heck of a floor, full of you name its and you wouldn’t believes. So I hope that if I see one of my former residents that I’ve said goodbye to – maybe ten or twenty years from now – he’ll laugh an say, “Remember the torn down exit signs?”
Because that’s what goodbyes are all about. Inside jokes and nostalgia; laughs and memories; the good times and the bad.
But what’s most interesting is the fact that you never know who these people will become. What they’ll go on to do with their lives. Or who they might be if you run into them again, when they’ve sent kids of their own off to college. There’s so much that could be after you’re parted; so much that could happen.
So here’s to the nights when we felt alive; here’s to the days when we had to crawl out of bed; here’s to the friendships, and the memories. But most of all, here’s to goodbye.
Tomorrow is going to come too soon.