The Color of Goodbyes

June 15, 2013
It was a very gray day. The sky, the pavement, the walls of the station, the tracks, and every little piece of neglected litter and hunk of gravel was gray. A lady wearing drab clothes sat on the railing outside the waiting room, turning the pages of a gray book. A tall man, as tired and withered looking as a newspaper left on an abandoned doorstep in the rain, leaned against the station wall. His eyes gazed lazily at the tracks, staring but not seeing. He took a long slow drag on the crooked cigarette in his mouth. As he exhaled threads of gray smoke escaped his crooked nose and withered lips. Everyone was waiting for the same train, but no one seemed to be in a hurry to leave, as if moving themselves from their spots of choice required too much effort. I was in no rush to leave; in fact I dreaded the arrival of that train. The train that would take me home, back to everyday life. As I stood on the cold sidewalk, he held my hand. Both of us knew I had to leave; there was nothing we could do about it, but the only thing either of us wanted was to get back in the car and spend the rest of forever together. I guess that’s the problem with being a teenager, with lives, and families, and school. A clock at the station read 1:47pm. The train was going to arrive at 2:00, which gave us 13 minutes left together. Suddenly the week we had spent together laughing and loving seemed more than short, we were stuck in that moment of separation. He hugged me tight and I buried my head in his shoulder, hiding my eyes from the cold, gray station around me. Saying goodbye is honestly the hardest thing, and it so much worse when you know it’s going to be weeks until you’re reunited. I am not a crier. I never have been, probably never will be. But my throat was tight and I couldn’t talk. I opened my mouth to say something; I didn’t know what, but no sound came out. He put a finger to my lips.
“Shhh, don’t worry. It won’t be long; I’ll see you soon. It will be okay.” Somehow he was staying strong. I felt hot tears stinging my eyes. The feeling of such a bittersweet goodbye surrounded us. Although the rest of the station was gray, we were full of color. The shades of the memories we share. Every late night kiss, every cup of coffee and bagel, every laugh and every casual glance covered us in a myriad of colors. So we stood, a trembling dot of color in a sea of gray. It was probably a good thing that he was strong, he was biting his lip and I saw an unusual sheen to his eyes, but if a tear had fallen, if he had said he didn’t want me to leave, there was no way I could have gotten on that train. I never let lose of our embrace, I wanted to hug him so tight that his whole being would seep into me and I could bring him with me. Take him home and never, ever have to say goodbye again. All day we had been telling each other, its not goodbye, it’s just see you later. But in that moment, surrounded by the gray, cold, hard station, it felt a lot like goodbye. In the distance the hiss of the train sounded. The concept of leaving was suddenly way too real. What would happen if I didn’t board that train? If I just stayed and never went home? What if. I held on to him so tightly it probably hurt. As the train jerked to a stand still we let go, trying to act mature, like the adults we wish we were. He helped me with my suitcase and walked me to the door. The conduction directed me to go to the back of the car on the right. “Can I help her with her bags?” he asked, “We have a schedule to keep, sorry son.” Said the conductor. The conductor took my bag. The train hissed, waiting for me. I through my arms around him one last time, tears now flowing freely, sobs escaping me. I kissed him and held his face as I looked into his eyes. “I love you,” I said, pouring all my emotions into those three words. “I love you too baby girl.” He said back. “Time to go, miss,” said the conductor. I stepped onto the train, and looked back on last time. He seemed like one glowing dot of color in the station of gray, the only thing that stood out, the only thing I would remember. Our eyes locked. A tear, only one little tear, fell from his eyes. No more words were said; I ducked inside the train and looked out the widow to see him slip away. He seemed to fall back into that station of gray, being swallowed by the dusty cement and gray walls. Although the goodbye was tear stained, the color of our memories painted my mind as the train carried me off into a world of gray.

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