Last summer, I entered the New York airport and searched for my gate, smiling and toting my luggage behind me as I bounced onto my aircraft, headed off to spend a month studying in England. I sat in the airport happy as could be, ready for some new strange adventure. When I sat in Heathrow four weeks later, however, I felt nothing but emptiness. I knew that I was leaving incredible friends, a lovely Brazilian boy, and a beautifully antique city; I had no clue when I'd see their faces or hold their hands again. My eyes flooded with tears, and I stared at my tiny Go-phone as the screen read balance empty...I couldn't make my last phone calls to say 'good-bye.' Little did I know, this would not be my last time riding on the roller-coaster of travel-related emotions.
Today my mom and I drove Laura to the airport, so she could fly home to Romania after spending 9 months with us. We stood in the Boston airport, hundreds of other travelers wandering by us, and said our good-byes. In that moment, we were three of thousands of people around the world who say grief-stricken farewells on a daily basis. Think of all the security gates, train platforms, boat docks, curb-sides with cabs pulled up where lovers, friends and family kiss good-bye. It's depressing, really, because no one likes that final wave. No one likes the feeling of anxiety and emptiness that sinks in when you realize that someone who has been a major part of your life has boarded a plane headed to Eastern Europe.
So why, then, do we continue to get attached to other people, if we know that leaving them will hurt?
Being a person who has said her share of goodbyes and badbyes before, I have come to this: We can't be with the ones we love all the time. It wouldn't be possible for Laura to move onto my bedroom floor (where she fell asleep last night playing the same Tracy Chapman song on replay, because it made her appropriately sad), or for me to stay in England with the new people I met last year. It would be safer for us to not tie our friends deeply into the strings of our hearts, because then, when they inevitably left, we wouldn't feel the cords as they were cut.
However, a badbye is actually a good one. The more it hurts, and the more missing one does, the stronger the affection. Weak bonds don't take energy to break. True friendships are those that leave us misty eyed on the train or plane or on the freeway driving home.
In order to make those connections, we need to jump right into our relationships (although according to Laura, she and I have only been friends since January. She takes a bit longer to decide whether or not a person is worthy of the title than I do, I guess...) We waste time when we take our time to test waters. Every day we have the opportunity to make memories with the ones we love, so that when the time comes to board the plane, we have something solid to hold onto. Sometimes the earth beneath just isn't enough to keep us grounded.