A Blonded Retrospective: Saying Goodbye to a Friend

The retrospective continues! This piece hardly needs an introduction – since I wrote it, its resonance has not faded. I actually found myself turning back to the sentiments I explore within its sentences once again back in May after my graduation and dreading the goodbyes I would say to friends. Perhaps you may find some solace in these thoughts as well! (Perhaps something to note: Sophia and I now find ourselves in the same place once again, and living together.)

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Saying Goodbye to a Friend

I walk my friend to her car, preparing for the ever-familiar sting of watching her leave. I’m saying goodbye to her for another six weeks, concluding only a short blissful weekend spent together after long months apart. But what follows is unusual – and I find that it has been happening more frequently – there’s less pain when we pull away from the hug, and as I walk away I don’t feel the anxious need to turn around and verify that she’s really disappeared into the night.

I don’t love her any less than I did on the evening of our first significant farewell (the night before I left for University; embarrassingly full of tears) – if it’s even possible, I love her more. But something in each of us has shifted. After years of what can only be defined as cursory visits, we both share an understanding that nothing will change following this separation, just as everything remained the same in the wake of our last.

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Long distance, long term, friendships. Perhaps not as romanticized as love stories made heart-wrenching by thousands of miles in the middle; perhaps not as glamorous as a surprise visitor armed with a dozen roses; but essential and inherently a part of life.

Of course, Sophia is not the only friend with whom I share these painful partings. A life between cities and lives is rife with relationships of the sort – the ones where the need to cherish time spent together is palpable, and it seems as though a clock is timing your moments together.

Over time, it seems, I have grown into one single-word and overused notion: trust. Not trust in the other person, but faith in the bonds of each of my precious, enduring friendships. Upon reflection, I’ve found that my younger goodbyes were marked with fear and doubt – of what, I’m not entirely sure. What would life be like without them? Would they replace me?

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But as I grow and continue on my odyssey into adulthood, I’m observing the way by which friendships that aren’t worth keeping are slowly dissipating from my life and those which provide enrichment are strengthening their hold. Distance, while trying at times, makes relationships transparent; with regards to my personal experiences: effort isn’t necessary to ensure a lasting friendship – because friendships shouldn’t feel like work.

I understand, now, how truly special it is to find someone that can still make you feel like you’re home after months apart. These connections are few and far between, and factors so insignificant as distance or time are unable to weaken their resilience. I appreciate those friendships that maintain a presence in my life. I believe in their presence and that they remain in existence for good reason. I trust them, and I know in my gut that they will not disappear due to one goodbye.

I’m already envisioning Sophia’s return with open arms, and I feel only comfort. The moments we have together may be fleeting, but they are full. And that’s really all that matters.

 

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A Blonded Retrospective: Part II

As I considered which piece to publish next in my retrospective of work from the past year, I realized I was also considering how those pieces related to where I find myself today. The two pieces you’ll find below come from two very different Megans, each exemplifying one of the two emotional extremes I felt in my final year of University. The first, an optimistic thought piece on the concept of growth and change, was written as I entered the school year, and the second, a more melancholy reflection of saying goodbye to my life in Montreal, was written one week before I graduated.

Now, many months older than I was when the first was written, and still healing from the wounds the second explores, I comfortably fall somewhere in the middle. I still miss my school friends and the feeling of home that Montreal provided, but I am full of hope for the future. As I continue my job search and begin to settle here in SF, I find myself looking forward to creating a life for myself here; one that I’m sure I will love like the one I had.

~

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Young Adulthood

Entering my final year of University, I can’t measure how much I’ve changed since I started my first. I’m a completely different person than who I was a year ago, and if given an introduction, the person I was three years ago wouldn’t even recognize me. In a short period of dramatic growth, I have exceeded my expectations in making strides towards becoming the woman my younger self always hoped to be, especially in an environment in which I originally predicted not much metamorphosis would occur.

Up until now, the spirit of change has come as a lonely source of excitement amidst a world of boxed in decisions and set futures. As long as I can remember I have known I would attend University – but which one? What friends would I make? A comfortable level of adaptability and expression within a fixed path. But now, as the ambiguous abyss of our entire lives comes into view, the unknown has the potential to bring about more anxiety than excitement.

I can feel the tensions rising around me as friends and peers are beginning to face the question of life after graduation, and what that might entail for them. Some are taking the LSAT and heading to graduate school, others are planning gap years, plenty already have jobs lined up while many, like myself, have absolutely no destination in mind after they pack their bags. However, in a situation that should be riddled with fear, I have been able to remain blindly optimistic. How?

I think I realized it when a friend of mine mentioned to me that, caught in a wave of anxiety brought about by the thought of life after University, she had created a mood board to inspire her young adult life and to give her things to look forward to. On it were pictures of apartments, outfits, and Brittany Murphy’s famously lost yet truly aspirational character from Uptown Girls. The idea of a mood board struck me, and suddenly my mind was lost in a mess of all the things I realized I was looking forward to after university. But most importantly, among all this inspiration, I wondered who I would be once I was living in that lovely apartment, in my favorite city, wearing those fabulous clothes. I knew, after so much growth as a person in so many ways, that my development was far from over – and I began to get excited at the idea that in 1 year, or 5 years, or 10 years, I would be an even better version of myself at this moment, all the while loving who I will be in those moments.

The more I grow, the more I realize that maturity isn’t the absence of change, it’s the acceptance of it. Young adulthood is not knowing the person you’ll be in a year, and excitement at the thought of meeting them. After 21 years of constant evolution, I’ve finally come to the understanding that, of course, remaining stagnant is crippling, change is inevitable, and that I will constantly be growing and shifting and morphing until the day I leave this earth. After 21 years, as I head out into the world without a plan, the excitement at that very notion now rests at the core of my existence.

~

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A life I’ve graduated from

And here I am again, another threshold I’m terrified of crossing.

An inner turmoil paralyzes me with fear; of the future, of leaving my past behind. In less than a week I say goodbye to, and graduate from, a life that has made me feel more like myself than I thought possible. Before this life, I didn’t know I could be as happy as I have been.

Here I have experienced both a home and an escape. This place, and the people in it, has provided shelter when I was scared, and provided inspiration when I needed to grow. I will miss the peaceful ease with which everyone goes about their business, and the relaxed yet purposeful pace that life seems to move by at.

Every once in a while there are moments where all I feel is gratitude for the life I have been fortunate enough to lead these past few years. But once those moments end, all I feel is pain.

I feel loss at the thought of leaving so many things I love so dearly. I feel anxiety for all the worries my adult self will experience. I feel panic when considering how little self assurance I seem to have at the moment when I need it most. I feel guilt for thinking that these goodbyes are dragging on too long, and I feel failure at my inability to feel connected to the present moment, where I still have access to peace.

Most importantly, I am sad. I am just so sad that it’s over.

I know that one day this won’t be so. I know that one day I will look on these days with nostalgia and warmth, appreciating them without mourning their ending. I will look at my life around me and feel the same way I have for these past few years: boundlessly happy, and yet almost blind to it.

But today is not that day, and that’s alright as well. As a dear friend once said, I am so lucky to have things that are so hard to leave.

A Blonded Retrospective: The Past Year, in Essays

To those of you still here – hi! I recognize it has in fact been a while. So I finally finished up University and am happily back in my home, San Francisco. For the past year, while I was neglecting this little sanctuary, I was focusing my writing efforts on the online site Reef Magazine, which has recently shut down. Some of my best work and favorite pieces were on there, and upon the news of Reef’s closure I realized I wasn’t ready for them to disappear from the internet quite yet.

So for the next little while, I’ll be posting some of those cherished articles here, on the Blonded, while creating some new content. Just as I am excited to be back in my home of San Francisco, I am eager to return to my cozy little corner of the internet.

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Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco

I wanted to start with the first article I ever wrote for Reef Magazine. I originally wrote this piece in December of 2016, and workshopped it until it’s publishing in June 2017. In spite of the fact that December 2016 feels like forever ago, this article covers an emotional spectrum that remains deeply relevant to my life – perhaps now even more so than back then.

~

“Living Across a Threshold”

I’m lying in my bed, with six candles illuminating both the room and my spirits with their soft, summery glow. I know that a chilled Montreal air is only inches away on the other side of my old, fogged window, but I am warm and dry. I swaddle myself in my comforter, and I just feel so at home.

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Cut to a glistening California morning, birds singing their sweet morning wake up calls and the familiar morning sun greeting me through the window and the slits of my tired eyes. The same sensation creeps into my realm of thought: home.

For anybody who has lived between cities, or moved across countries, and made loving homes in all the places they’ve nested in, this is for you.

My life changes on a pretty consistent basis, my experiences continually changing who I am. I’m in a constant state of learning, evolving according to those I encounter and situations I find myself in. In addition to all of this – the generically prescribed experience of a 20-year-old young woman – my home changes (at least) twice a year.

Stinson Beach, California

It’s December now. Next week, I’ll be packing up all of my belongings, returning to Napa for the holidays, and then I’m off to Edinburgh for five months. After that, it’s back to San Francisco for a summer and only then do I get to reunite with my life here in Montreal. The next year contains not only immense anticipation, growth, and excitement, but it also contains four different cities that I must make a home for myself in.

There’s a convoluted guilt that boils in my stomach when I find myself excited to return to one of my homes; it inevitably implies saying goodbye to another. While the excitement at returning to my dear California nearly seeps through the surface of my entire body whenever I wistfully imagine the waves kissing the beach, or driving like a maniac with the windows rolled down, I cannot dull the aching dread of leaving what seems like my whole world here in Montreal.

The crippling fear of leaving something that brings me so much joy is a familiar feeling. It comes with the essence of goodbye, and boy have I had my fair share of those. Living a somewhat nomadic existence as I have has brought me many things, but stability is not one of them. And while I wouldn’t trade my life between countries and coasts for anything in the world, I can recognize each time I say goodbye, I am a little more scared.

Corner of Duluth and Coloniale, Montreal

Maybe I genuinely love my life in Montreal more than any other life I’ve lived – or maybe I’m just getting older. I’m beginning to realize the true lucidity and intangibility of everything I think I have. It can all be gone in a second, and the weight of that recognition finds its way into my goodbyes. I know I’m returning to Montreal in a mere matter of months – but what if I don’t? By some trick of fate, everything about this life I love so much could disappear.

One would be right to point out that I don’t know what exists beyond the threshold of the next phase of my life. The limitless possibilities laid out before me should excite me; and they do, to be sure. I don’t yet know what I have to look forward to. There’s a high that comes with diving head first into an adventure for which you have zero expectations. And what will be so blissful about all the memories I’m about to make is that I don’t know them yet. But here’s what I do know: I am happy now, and that is hard to leave.

While it’s hard to hand out an all-encompassing strategy for anybody who feels the same, here’s what I can offer:

Had I not bid farewell to the ever-comforting embrace of San Francisco two and a half years ago, I would not live the life I lead and love so much here. And what paved the road to that decision, is the same encouragement that led me to my year of four cities. So I trust the instinct, blindly, because the truth is, the possibility that I will conquer new adventures and learn emotions I have yet to know is far more likely than it is not.

So I will embark on my next adventure, not daring to undermine the gravity of the goodbye-induced tears by wiping them away. I will forever be in debt to my decisions for where they have brought me and what they have given me – and I will trust them as I cross the threshold.