can i tell you a secret?

my secret is that i’m really, really, really bad with goodbyes.

in fact, i hate saying goodbye. in fact, sometimes i say “see you later!” instead, to pretend like i’m not saying goodbye.  today i was thinking through some of the harder goodbyes in my life, and how i dealt with them.  here are a few:

freshmen year: i thought i was really excited to go to college and move to columbia…but i was so wrong.  my mom left me, at eighteen years old, literally crying on the steps of maxcy college. true story.  that was such a hard first semester, and telling my mom goodbye every time i left home was the most difficult part. i’m sure that, if i would have had a car, i would have moved myself back to north carolina…but i’m so glad i didn’t, because the joys (and even the painful parts) of the next three years and a half years were so worth it.

camp: every summer, goodbye is different. some summers, goodbye means saying farewell to a state–last summer, i had to say goodbye to south carolina, and it was hard. my second summer of camp, goodbye meant saying goodbye to undergrad and to life as i knew it, as i prepared to go to graduate school in birmingham, and it was hard.  the hardest goodbyes i’ve ever said, in my entire life, happened in philadelphia in 2008.  there were lots of tears the night before camp ended, and lots of tears as we left campus for the airport, and lots of tears at the airport, when we had to separate and go into various groups to find our terminals, and more tears at the terminals.  i’m not good with goodbyes, but luckily i found some moments to laugh in the midst of the tears.  i cried on the plane. i cried when i got home. i watched my staff video every night for two weeks. it was like a security blanket, reminding me that those moments, with those people, really happened that summer.  and then…i went back to school. i was bcm president. i was busy with classes. eventually, the pain and the sadness faded, but there’s always a small part of my heart that grows thankful and melancholy when i think about philadelphia.

college graduation: goodbyes are hardest when you have to say them over and over. goodbye to that wonderful trailer park off alpine road, and the kids i loved.  goodbye to misti, as we had paul’s together. goodbye to the tuckers, moments before we graduated.  goodbye to ashley, as we had dinner after my graduation.  goodbye to the posters, over sunday dinner after church.  goodbye to the bcm center, where i spent the majority of those four years of my life, and to countless other friends.  it all hit me when marcus williamson and i returned from moving my stuff to birmingham, and i got in my car to make my last trek up I-26 to north carolina, and “viva la vida” came on the radio, and the tears followed.

so how do i deal with goodbyes? not usually in the most helpful emotional or psychological manners. sometimes, i just don’t think about them at all and pretend they aren’t happening…which usually catches up to you. sometimes i just cry a lot, because i’m a girl and that’s what i do when i’m sad.  sometimes i live in the past for days and days, remembering every moment before i had to leave.  and sometimes, i have a hard time saying goodbye at all, especially to the people who really matter in my life.  goodbyes are so permanent, and forever, and….sad.  it really is better to just say, “see you later…”

…because, eventually i will.

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