It's ironic that goodbyes hurt when they include the word 'good'

I always assumed that the more often something happened, the more accustomed to it I would be. That simply seemed like a way of the world. I thought it would apply to everything in exactly the same proportion, especially goodbyes. That hasn’t quite been the case. Experience has proved to be quite opposing and as far as goodbyes are concerned, I haven’t managed to take them any easier. They say first cuts hurt the deepest but the second, third or fortieth don’t seem to pain any less either.

Going back home feels like a trip back in time. The air is pure with notes of burning palm. The sky is blue and cloudless. The sunshine bathes but never stings. The sunsets at the beach could be framed on a wall, the mango trees seem to be perpetually ripe with fruit and even walks around the grocery aisles feel languid and therapeutic. So when the days begin to slip out of my fingers and packing cannot be procrastinated anymore, that’s when the melancholy begins to settle in. No matter how many days I’ve got left, it sinks in and rears its head especially in the middle of a good time, as if to remind me - don’t have too much fun, it’s ending soon. Packing bags is dreaded to begin with, even more so when you’ve got your old friend reality to go back to. 

When the duffels are loaded in the back of the car and I’ve double checked my tickets, heading back at this point is nothing else if not inevitable. The car being gassed up and gate swinging shut behind me are subconsciously a signal that the white-trimmed yellow walls and blooming garden will soon be in the rear view mirror and not one I’ll be seeing every day. It’s also the exact moment when my steel resolve cracks and the waterworks begin, no matter how hard I’d promised myself that I wouldn’t do it again. The knot in my throat gives way to a flood of tears and knowing my genetics, it has a domino effect in our home.

I lament about how the car ride to the station ends quicker than most of my travels around my hometown and I think it’s because I want to stretch out every second as much as I can. As the train comes in with loud honks, we join the bustle with our baggage and I forget for a few seconds that this is the last view of home I will see for the foreseeable future. My anxious travelling instincts are fueled further by the fact that I don’t know when I will be able to adjust my life and schedule around coming back here again. When I do come back; whether it’s weeks or months later, how much will have changed? Will the palms grow a few feet higher? Will the dog next door still tilt her head when I call her name? Will the jackfruits be ripe for picking and will my favourite ice-cream store still stock the flavour I like? Most importantly, will everybody I’ve said goodbye to still be there to greet me when I come around next?

There’s no crystal ball to answer my anxiety-ridden questions about the future when all I have is the present. I’ve come back home to one less family member before, which taught me about doing all I could in the present to never have regrets in the future; maybe even cry a few happy tears that I did the best I could when I could with the hand I was given. That’s all we can do really; that and embrace the memories. John Denver relied on his country roads to take him home and I can say the same for me; when the song next shuffles on my playlist and when I walk those tree-trimmed roads once more.


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