I got in my car this afternoon after saying farewell to one of my best friends who’s moving across the country. His drive starts tomorrow, and it’s hard to believe the day has come. So much change has come about in the past couple of weeks for him, and for me, that it’s nothing short of amazing — but not surprising. The feeling that something was about to shift was so palpable; the sensation was heavy in the air for a week or two before things were actually set into motion.
When I was on my way to his house earlier in the day, I had my music turned down low so I could focus on the chaos that is L.A. traffic on Melrose. I wasn’t sure what song it was on, and I didn’t care. I was busy maneuvering my way around cars that were parked when they shouldn’t have been, people slowing to hand money to the homeless, other motorists who weren’t sure of their surroundings and just generally trying to avoid having my bumper hit for the third time in slightly over a year.
We drove around the area for a while, then ended up on Sunset and finally settled on a place for a mid-afternoon lunch. My heart was sad, and my head was only halfway present. The conversation was good, yet there was so much more I wanted to ask — but couldn’t — for fear of bursting into tears. While I’m beyond ecstatic for this new chapter in his life, I’m human, and the selfish part of me will miss my friend.
Our two hours flew by, and before I knew it I needed to head out to be somewhere else by 5p. All emotions were in check until the hug, and then the floodgates opened, complete with breathing that was more akin to gasping for air and a nose so runny it could’ve doubled as a waterslide.
Quite an attractive way to say goodbye, yes?
I was thinking yesterday about the last time we had to say goodbye. For a second I thought it was back when I was returning to college in Michigan, then I remembered it was just six years ago when I moved to Connecticut. I remember bawling my eyes out on the plane. I kept my head permanently turned toward the window as we went wheels-up out of LAX; nobody needed to see the smeared eye makeup and the mess I was making on my cheeks, on my shirt…practically everywhere.
A kind, older man next to me put his hand on my knee — something that normally would’ve freaked anyone out — and simply said, “You can always come home.” The brief, gentle touch and his words were those of an angel. He didn’t know me. We hadn’t made any small-talk on the plane while we were boarding. He didn’t know whether I was from the area or not, but at that moment, it was as though he knew…the situation, my heartbreak over leaving — even though I was excited — it was as though he knew everything.
His words calmed me instantly, as well as for the rest of the flight. I realized he was right. It would be only a 5-6 hour flight if I wanted to come home or have visitors, and sometimes the drive from the LA area to Vegas takes longer than that. Even driving to LA on a Friday or Saturday night can take upwards of 2 hours for me when I come from OC.
Today as we hugged goodbye, we made small talk through my sniffling. Drive carefully, watch out for the weather, let me know how the drive goes, stop when you’re getting tired, I’ll let you know if I’ll be back there for work, let me know when you’ll be back for a visit…
And then it hit me — the word “visit” imparted an internal sigh of relief within. Of course he’d be visiting. And I could, too.
When I got in my car, I cried for another minute or so, then turned up the music a bit as I drove off. My favorite Keane song, “Everybody’s Changing,” was on. It couldn’t have been more fitting. He’s changing, and making a move to stay in the game. I’m changing, and starting a new job tomorrow. Everybody’s changing.
Tonight I am thankful for my friend’s opportunity that is incredibly, amazingly well-deserved, beyond overdue and one at which he’ll “kick maximum ass” (a favorite phrase of his). The degree to which I already miss him pales in comparison to the degree to which I know he’ll embrace, own and run with this next chapter in his life.
XO, dear friend.