As I gathered my overloaded bags from the sidewalk where I had set them for one last picture with my best friend, I looked up to see his slender figure striding away. He carried nothing save a half-finished bottle of vodka. He didn’t look back. Once I shouldered my pack and turned toward the ferry terminal, neither did I. With my heavy bag, I walked strong. We will see each other again. We will continue to talk from opposite sides of the world, but somehow that didn’t make it easier. I have prided myself on the composure with which I have handled the goodbyes of dozens whom I may never see again, but this time the pressure built behind my eyes as the ripping sensation of separation grew. Inside the terminal, I found a seat among the crowd of chatty travelers, thinking only of the friend who will sorely be missed.
But that’s not the real part.
That’s how tough goodbyes are expected to be. That’s Hollywood. Our friendship has been anything but expected though. Sitting with my journal in hand, my phone began to vibrate in my pocket. It was him. He was concerned that I would not be able to send our photo to my requesting mother, so he had turned around so we could take another one with a phone. I tried to explain that I was going to transfer the photo to my computer soon, but he was already on his way. Gathering my things again, I headed outside to meet him. With goofy laughing faces, we snapped a quick selfie and said a chuckling goodbye.
“Get outta here! For real this time!” I chided as we separated unceremoniously. I turned back to the terminal laughing audibly.
I will see my friend again. We are both on incredible journeys, and our paths can only remain on the same track for so long. A goodbye is not the end of a friendship; it is only the turning of a page in the long stories of our lives.
This is real life.