I love seeing my friends. People I love, with whom I have history. I look forward to trips, excursions, parties, bar nights and brunches, operas and sledding and movies and dance clubs. I love getting spontaneous invites and surprise visits and hearing people I'm out with suggest "one more place?" - extending what might have been a perfectly lovely breakfast or walk or happy hour into a day or an evening of catching up, telling stories, and connecting. It doesn't sound like "one more place" as much as "I don't want to part."
But the ends of things, the return trips, the goodbyes and partings and breaks in these connections get harder and harder to step through - the more excited I was to begin, the more planning and preparation I exerted to make the meeting happen, the more time that has passed since I last saw the person I meet.
The goodbye ought to be just as happy, if not more. I am loved! I love! The connection was evidence, affirmation, and a new treasure chest of stories and memories and beautiful things I can look at and hold onto when real life, and separation, come back. The beginning ought to be more fearful and sad than the ending - it might not go well, it might not happen at all. Yet beginnings don't crush me with worry and dread - I'm too energized by change and unknown and figuring things out. All my fear, all my sad, all my love twists inward at goodbyes. Returning home pulls my heart down into my stomach. It shouldn't - my bed is the most comfortable bed on earth. My apartment fills me with joy when I walk in. But to get there, I have to separate from these people I love.
These people I love so damn much. I knew I loved them, came to see them, looked forward to their company, but I had forgotten what exactly it felt like to be next to them, to touch them, to hear their voices. The shape of their faces when they smile and the texture of their skin on my fingertips and the exact span I need to stretch up to wrap my arms around their shoulders. I had forgotten what it was like to love them with flesh and voice and eyes. They were just an idea I loved, but I remembered when they hugged me all these other things that I had forgotten. How tender they are. How full of kindness. How open-hearted and sensitive and joyous. How brilliant. How beautiful, one right next to the other, a sofa full of heroic divinities. And now I know I will forget them again, and they will go back to being an idea, instead of this one specific unrepeatable utterly human being.
I want all of my loved ones within arms' reach, every single one of them, all the time. And I also want this feeling of falling in love with them anew, because it has been two decades and they have become entirely different gorgeous versions of the exact same person I loved the first time, fully bloomed and shimmering-winged, and I get to fall in love with an exciting stranger that is my best friend, has always been my best friend. This love, familiar as myself. I know you like I know my own dream world, but you have all these stories I don't know from these lives you've lived without me, and all I want is to sit next to you and listen to you and watch you be familiar and brand new in buttery baklava layers of sweetness. It is so good to be near you. And I am so very happy, and sad also, because I already miss you. I cannot hold this liquid moment still. I don't want to forget again what it feels like to be your friend.
Each summer my father would appear at the airport as a stranger that had gifts for me. And I wanted nothing to do with him and his foreignness. But ten weeks later after I remembered who he was I had to leave him at that airport and forget all the pieces of him again. And I'm tired of forgetting. I want my loves. Someday they won't be at that airport and I will have forgotten them and there won't be any way to remember again, how they smelled and how they cleared their throat and how they told a punchline.
And the lies Helga tells her son Freddie when he quite rightly sobs at every goodbye, telling him that he will see these people again, that there will always be another time, these lies we tell ourselves so that we don't fall apart like toddlers at every airport and train depot and bus station and repacked suitcase, these lies aren't doing the trick for me anymore. I miss you now. I miss you for every one of the hugs and laughs I will want to give you, that I wanted to give you for twenty years, that I will have in my heart for you, even though my head will turn you back into the idea of you, without your you-ness to surprise me, and hug me back.
I know that missing you is good, and beautiful. I know that I am lucky to have so much love in my life, so very lucky to have these pains of missing you because I have loved you well and hurt myself to sever from your sphere. I know. But I am in public, and I don't have the space or privacy to cry these heavy tears, to process this sadness, this love that wants to stay next to you and wants you to exist only for me until I feel like I can love you all the way through, a full saturation of color, until you can fully know and I can fully know you understand. Only then, only when you really really understand how I love you, until I know without a moment of doubt that you see what my heart holds for you, can I feel peace at you existing outside of my space, can I drive away from you with a bittersweet smile instead of feeling ripped, the quiet letdown of a finished ice cream cone rather than the wailing misery of a fallen scoop melting on the sidewalk.
It is beautiful to love and to be sad at separations and goodbyes. But it is not beautiful quite yet, not until I can properly rage at the hideous injustice of loving people out of arms' reach, people who may not understand how important they are to me.