“I can tell by your tears that you will remember it all” is one peculiar quote I found online while making a half-hearted attempt to research how to say goodbye. I’m in the midst of closing chapter after chapter: The end of my first internship, the end of a yearlong class, the end of my four-year second stint at Wharton. Looking people in the eye, enunciating my future, and facing myself as reflected in their eyes is weird stuff. It’s both a relief and a bit shocking how supportive my soon to be former coworkers have been. There’s a hearty dose of unreality matched by heaping bitter sweetness to the whole proceeding. After nearly 11 years, I’m opting out of the university administrator lifestyle. My decision makes sense, but my heart is catching up slowly to my will.
The thing about being bi-national, and having been bi-coastal, is that my life has been littered with goodbyes. It is impossible for me to have all the people I love in one place.
You’d think I’d have plenty of practice, but in fact, I’m not very good at saying goodbye. I prefer evasive maneuvers. Clean cuts. Leaving friends and acquaintances, people I like, behind squeezes my heart. This started with spending my summers in France during my teen years. Saying goodbye to all my friends and family after a two month stint just wrenched me and made me atypically wordless. I did better just staring at the road ahead, getting on the plane and keeping myself distracted.
(Might running off to India for seven weeks be considered an evasive maneuver?)
I’m actually spending more time with my discomfort than I ever have before. It’s been layering into me for months as I concocted my plans. This mixture of excitement and malaise is absorbing, refreshing, tastes odd in the mind. I’ll leave it at that, I’m atypically wordless in the face of these voluntary losses.