Whenever I leave a place, I often wonder if I’ll ever be back. It’s a common fear of travellers, and it partly explains the melancholy associated to goodbyes. I’ve never been a fan of goodbyes. I try to avoid them, pretend they don’t exist. I get consumed by packing, or paying the hotel bills, taking that last picture. ‘Did I leave anything behind?’ I’m part of the moment long after it becomes a memory.
I prolong the experience for as much as I can, I let its joy consume me, masking any uneasy feelings associated with parting. I feel stronger than this; after all, goodbyes are only politesse, our understanding of finality, a shared language of compartmentalized emotions and experiences. We like to box life, place its parts on individualized, little shelves, tying red ribbons around like tiny reminders of what we don’t want to forget, to be accessed only when the memory is just an ounce more subdued than the present. Because let’s face it: although we say we want to access happiness in times of sadness, what we secretly want is a less than joyful reason to be reminded that maybe we don’t have it half as bad.
Our fear of goodbyes is just that; a fear of leaving behind a place associated with happiness, because we know something better might not be guaranteed. And if nothing better is guaranteed, how will we ever be reminded that the present is not tragedy, but only an unpredictable chapter of a beautiful life?