Goodbye

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I remember the day so clearly. It had been early August, and the sun was setting, filling the sky with brilliant oranges. The sweltering heat of the day had slipped away, and the grass tickling my toes felt cool and satisfactory. My two best friends, Camille and Allison, were leaning against the oak tree in my yard.

We said nothing. The fact was, there was too much to say, and none of us had wanted to break the comfortable silence, and utter the one word I knew would break all three of our hearts.
Earlier that day, we had sat on the concrete pavement of my porch, sipping tall glasses of lemonade, and reminiscing on the last few years. I had brought up the countless videos and pictures we had taken, the long walks to nowhere, the sleepovers where we had stayed up all night and listened to the creaks on the floorboards as Allison’s father walked around aimlessly in the dark. The memories had flooded back, beautiful and precious, filling all of our hearts with contempt.

But now, as I stood silently staring down at my bare feet, tanned a shade of olive brown from the short months of summer, I felt for the first time a jump in my heart. A jump of surprise for the actual excitement I had begun to feel. A jump of delight at the experiences I was about to face. Things that exactly a year ago, I had no idea I would have the ability to do.

I had found out about the move in late December, over Christmas break. I had previously known my parents were on the job search, although I had imagined it more of a timid hunt, an apprehensive act out of the fret everyone was feeling from the ongoing slump in the economy. I knew money had been tight around the house, and I could feel the agitation of my parents at times. But when they broke the news of a move to China, all sympathy was lost. I could feel my world tearing apart, the appropriate teenage emotions took over my body, and I was caught in a turmoil of my emotions. China? It was across the world, thousands of miles away from everything I knew; my friends, my home, my life.

Now, as I faced my friends, the two companions that had stood by me through anything and everything, I could finally come to terms with my situation. Summer had been amazing, filled with laughter and happiness, sun, and swimming, but now...now it was over, and the realities of the following year had snuck up on me. I had not allowed myself the time space to adapt to the changes of an entirely new life.

I leaned against the patio screen, and smiled to myself. It was the first time since December that I had contemplated the move to China. Of course, I had thought about it in past situations, but I had never let myself think about it too much, and in doing so, I had convinced myself that it was not even happening. Doing so seemed the easiest way to enjoy the last months I had left with my friends. And now that the moment had come to say those final words, the ones I had been dreading since December, I found myself almost relieved.

I felt freed, as if a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. Admitting to the move had taken months, but when the time had finally come, I was at ease with it, as if it was the most natural thing in the world. I imagined myself as a bird, flying in a new direction, starting a new life, against the wind.

The thing was, with this change, I could branch out. I could become something new. I could grow. I felt as if a world of opportunities were jumping out at me, and all I had to do was take a step in their direction.

I turned and stared and Camille and Allison with teary eyes. I offered a delicate but knowing smile, and pulled my arms around them, feeling their warmth, and love, and friendship. The word I knew I was going to say was coming up from my throat, surfacing in my mouth, rolling off of my tongue. With a gentle and soft squeeze in our hug, the word came out as a faint whisper, one that was fervent and offered possibility and hope, not closure.

“Goodbye.”





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