I promise that I wrote this yesterday. But I haven’t slept, so it still feels like the same day to me. Actually the sun never properly went down, so it’s not just a lack of sleep. Anyway, this is my post for June second. That means I still owe 500 words for June third. I’ll make it.
The question seemed rather morose, but her bubbly demeanor softened the tone. Her thick South African accent and air of unspoiled innocence elicited a feeling of condescending pity for her ignorant misconception.
She had asked, “So, when are you leaving Visby for good? Like, forever?” Her bright smile clashed with the falling tones of depressive sentimentality.
“Bright and early tomorrow morning,” I responded with confident excitement and a smile to match hers.
But my attempt to act cordially and match our expressions quickly backfired when her smile melted into a knitted brow and hanging mouth that actually did align with her words: “Oh, that’s sad.” The heavily accented final syllable dragged on as if begging my cheery expression to come along into the sudden pit of despair.
Instead, I found myself stumbling in confusion. That was not at all the response I had expected. “What? No, it’s not,” I quickly retorted. “It’s exciting,” I pleaded, subduing the argumentative tone.
In about 14 hours, I will step onto a ferry that will take me from Visby for what may be the last time. I feel no sadness about that. I spent seven wonderful months in this lovely little city, and I thoroughly enjoyed every beautiful morning that I walked to class as I looked out over the Medieval red rooves that glowed in the early morning light (or of that of the ubiquitous ornate streetlights in the depths of winter).
However, it’s time to move on. I hadn’t spent more than seven months with a continuous address since I graduated from the Academy just over four years ago. These potentially permanent goodbyes have become a natural part of my life. In that time, I have cultivated some of the strongest relationships I have ever had and recognized their value, but I have also grown out of that sense of loss in saying goodbye. Perhaps it is a more concentrated focus on the present moment and a feeling of gratefulness for having had these people in my life even for as long as I did. Compared to any other of the paths my life could have taken, that I took the one that brought me in contact with the people I have met here in Visby carried an infinitesimally small probability and could in no way be predicted. The fact that I know this joyful and talkative young South African woman is a coincidence of the most startlingly low likelihood, so whatever the prospects of our ever meeting again, there is always the positive turn on the situation that we should be grateful that we have met at all.
However, I think there is a more salient reason for my excitement of leaving this island. I know that the result of this next relocation will be even more fulfilling and meaningful connections with new people, places, and moments.
Though it may be cliche, it is true: every ending is just another beginning. This week, a stage of my life comes to an end. I defended my thesis this morning, and once I submit some final corrections later this month, I will close the chapter of my life that contained my time as a master’s student at Uppsala University, and I will begin a new one that contains a new story with new characters. Indeed, all the characters will be new. Even the protagonist in this epic, though quite similar to this last, will inevitably be someone new.