Blazer, Forever 21 | Scarf, H&M | Button-down, thrifted | Skirt, China | Boots, Target | Necklace, Love Nail Tree
Photos by Shekinah
The goodbyes have already begun--and they're even more indefinite than last time.
Last time, I bid farewell to Amherst friends who'd graduate before my return. I began dreading our separation over six months in advance; and when it was time to leave, I was an emotional mess (to put it mildly). Melancholy completely overwhelmed the allure of adventure, of my year abroad.
Last time, we were unsure of when we'd see each other again--after all, we'd be dispersed across the country.
This time, as I say goodbye to my Bordeaux friends, the question is less "when," but "if."
This time, our homes are oceans apart. This time, there are no regular university-organized reunions. This time, nothing links us but a tenuous, fleeting experience--a handful of course meetings or rehearsals, the occasional cultural outing, a few frenzied group study sessions, one particularly-resonant conversation.
Last time, I left full of angst. This time, that angst is absent. These goodbyes are bittersweet, but nothing more.
I wonder why. Have I become desensitized? I'm no stranger to waltzing in and out of people's lives, though it's an often-disorienting dance I'd rather avoid. But waltzing in and out of different worlds is an innate part of this year's agenda.
This dance was briefer and less intense than the last. Here, I've had only a scattering of deeper conversations and real bonding experiences. Maybe it was the language barrier, maybe it was the difficulty of organizing hangouts--but here, I feel as if the rawer side of myself never emerged. There were no late-night heart-to-hearts, no endless hours struggling in professors' offices, no regular dinner catchups, no just existing with each other in the same place nearly 24/7.
I'm both entirely ready to leave (really because of the school system), but also entirely not. I wish I had more time to forge deeper bonds, to fall more in love with the language. Shorter waltzes are less draining, less emotionally demanding, but also less satisfying. I almost wish this imminent departure were tinged with angst and suffering, because that would've meant I'd made incredibly close friends.
But what does that mean anyways? I now speak only occasionally to the kindred souls I couldn't let go of last time. Some already feel like absolute strangers. But I still hold the moments we shared close to my heart.
There's a time and place for everything. This time was short and this place was foreign. This waltz was a rich and unsettling frenzy.
I'm not sure if I'll see many of these friends again, if any. Would they come visit me in England? Across the ocean in the US? Would I go visit them? Will we even message each other occasionally?
I don't know, but I'm grateful for these ephemeral moments. For their patience as I stumble over words, for their willingness to welcome me into their close-knit groups, for their keen interest in my culture and their enthusiasm for sharing their own.
Classes are over, and I have two weeks left. The music has slowed, and I will do my best to savor the final notes.