Damn, I’m the tipsy girl tearing up in the middle of a bar. Classy.
I didn’t mean to get emotional around my favorite New Yorkers. But there I was, in the midst of the friends I’d made who all embodied a piece of the most amazing place in the world for me for the last five years.
I was crying because, well, it hit me that the people you meet in your travels become the most important part of your experience. And these people were the best of the best.
I had known some of them from college, others from random trips I’d taken, some were friends of friends who became a part of my “forever team,” but the common theme was that none of them were from the same part of my New York. To celebrate my last weekend on the East Coast, I did something I’d never done before, I decided to put them all together in a quaint St. Mark’s “old man bar” that conveniently played Kelly Clarkson and Bob Marley.
Side note here: I’m not one to throw parties for myself; it’s just never been my thing. I rarely do birthday parties and I look like I’m constipated if you sing me happy birthday in a crowded room. So I had to make this a celebration of life, and change, and continuing friendships in a distant, but powerful way.
It wasn’t my wedding, my baby shower (ya betta believe I ain’t tryna have no kids anytime soon), or my funeral, but yet one by one my favorite people started showing their faces to have a drink for the next step in my life away from New York, and away from them.
And this is the only way to explain how happy I was to see them all…
See, that’s the thing, I’m used to saying goodbye, but it doesn’t make it any less difficult. I avoid “the goodbye” at all costs, I feel like it’s a drawn out process that becomes overly emotional if you take too long to do it. My ideal goodbye is as quick as pulling off a Band Aid, it’s shocking and hurts for a bit, but eventually you recover.
The first time I fully reflected on the “goodbye” caveat of travel was a few months ago when I was catching up with a French friend who I had met on Couchsurfing.com. We had communicated in French and Spanish for a year before and built a virtual friendship based on shared love for language and travel. Luckily, he didn’t turn out to be a total creep when I finally met him in person, in fact, he was absolutely awesome and on my same wavelength just as I had imagined him over Facebook Chat. In between trips, he stopped in New York and we had cawffee. He was telling me stories of when he’d lived in Mexico for a year, and how he was on his way to Barcelona to start a new life in a few days. He had no plans, little money, but was going because he always had a fascination for Spanish girls, nice. After hours of deeeeeep conversation, he started telling me that his secret wish was to put all of his favorite people, from all over the world, in one place. And I smiled because I couldn’t have agreed more with my French, Spanish loving Couchsurfing.com, fellow gypsy. But the twinkle in his eyes, and then my eyes, faded; it could’ve been because he’s French and they keep it so real that any conversation usually turns out to be melancholy. Our fantasies of having everyone we love in a huge party with unlimited booze, music, and food, were cut short when we both admitted to ourselves that it would be almost impossible to put all of friends in one city, let alone in one country.
See, because when you accomplish your goal of living an international lifestyle, you quickly realize that it comes with the sacrifice of leaving your favorite people behind, and making relationships work long-distance all the time.
But I have to say that despite the suckiness of having to miss birthdays, babies being born, and overall missing your friends and family, I appreciate this lifestyle because you rarely take things for granted; you know you’re going to leave so you savor every moment with those that make you the happiest. In a life of comfort, no travel, no risks, you expect to have a stable level of happiness and for that, your expectations usually give you a bit of entitlement that leads to devaluing moments and friendships.
I’m a memory hogger, a friend collector, and someone who believes if you’re a good person, I’ll keep you forever, so clearly this is my least favorite part of travel. But constantly leaving has taught me that life is nothing but moments shared with great people. We shouldn’t hold ourselves back from exploring the world in fear of losing them, because the ones who matter will make it work with you. So in my attempt to make my secret wish of having everyone in one place and one time come true, all of my New Yorkers toasted to making it all work despite the distance.
I’ll be across the country, and it won’t change how these people mean the world to me, but it’ll limit the day-to-day interaction, and to be honest, it’ll make me appreciate them even more. Beyond all that, the people are what guarantee that you’ll always be back to visit, so it’s not even really ever a goodbye, it’s always a “see you later.”
So, thank you all, for being such an important part of my New York City.