Saying Goodbye Again

I’m sitting here as my roommate packs up all of her worldly possessions. It’s a familiar feeling, except I’m on the wrong side. This is a heavy lesson in the permanence of relationships in a foreign country. Over the past couple months, my roommate, she’d hate me using her name so let’s call her Scrubs, has sort of  defined my life, my patterns, my social sphere. There’s something about meeting somebody who speaks your native tongue in a country where you are passing days not understanding most of what is happening around you. Much of the first six months of my life in Colombia I had the feeling of floating through a sort of half life. I would often realize that I had gone days without speaking outside of my classrooms. I spent much of my time reading, sometimes writing, having so little to convey that what came out was vague dribble on the theory of existence. Was it even important? My existence felt unnecessary and forgotten. In which case, what was I doing? I wanted to leave Colombia. I wanted to go back to a space where I was comfortable, if unsatisfied and likely destructive. I had felt important in my old life. Since those hazy months early in the year, so many things have changed. One was my move from the far north of the city into more of a downtown area. I thrive on the movement of people. Hearing the bar play music across the street every night was calming. The yells on the street staved off loneliness. The horns honking reminded me that life was still going on. Through my new space I was exposed to a far more inclusive environment of roommates. My new roommates were expats from Europe. They introduced me to a new style of life in Bogota. We went out and I met new people;  met one in particular that completely turned my experience on its head. That person showed me spaces that felt like home, introduced me to people that felt like old friends, and listened to me like nobody had listened to me in months. This story is not about that person, though. That person had to leave, but left me with a taste of how I could fall in love with Bogota. Soon after that person left, Scrubs moved in. She was from Portland, I was from Boulder, we spoke English, it was an easy friendship. Living in the same house, we soon fell into a routine. I would come home from work, we would smoke a cigarette together in my room. We would break to go do our own things and come back together later to make dinner together or decide where we were going out. We liked the same sort of places, the same sort of events, the same sorts of foods. We were quickly inseparable. In two months, she knew nearly everything about my life and I knew most everything about hers. When people messaged us, they messaged us together. These are the sorts of friendships that I build with people I expect to keep around. These are rare friendships, particularly so far from what was once home. So as I sit here watching Scrubs pack, I am coping with the fact that another person whose friendship has shaped a piece of my life is leaving, as everybody leaves, as I have left so many times; with a vague promise that we’ll see each other again, but the constant feel of unease that that may not be the case. Not only am I sad to lose a good friend, but I am caught in the nostalgia of the act of leaving. I am remembering packing a U-haul in the Minnesota summer. I am remembering the last tearful hugs of friends and family in my parents’ kitchen. I am remembering saying goodbye to a shared bedroom and looking into the eyes of somebody I loved for the last time as their lover. I am remembering donating most of my worldly possessions and jumping into a stranger’s car headed for the northwest. I am remembering seeing my best friend off before she hopped a plane to Alaska. I am remembering my last party in Boulder, how we did it right. I am remembering the tears that came the last time I pet my cat, having stopped to do so on the way to the airport. I am remembering the last Ozo coffee I drank. I am remembering all of the lovely faces I’ve known in my life and realizing that I’m always saying goodbye to them, and it is always to the exact same uneasiness that sits in my chest now. Will I ever see you again? And it is so easy to say yes, but sometimes it’s a lie. And sometimes you even know that and don’t want to admit it. I’m sure I’ll see Scrubs again. We’ll be in the same part of the world come January. But then there’s all of those other people I kept saying goodbye to, and not meaning to say goodbye forever to. All of  the people I will still find myself saying goodbye to. My heart is heavy and it is all encompassing and it resides all over the world these days. And I don’t know how to reconcile my physical presence with this.

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