Friday, July 1, 2011

Stepping Stones

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The hours leading up to goodbye are not my favorite.

You know that feeling when the fun is winding down, when people are starting to pack their suitcases and discuss departure times? I always feel pulled between the desire to wipe my kitchen counters and pretend it isn't happening, and the urge to plop myself down on their bed and insist we stay up all night, like teenagers, so that we won't miss a single second. I usually end up doing a little bit of both.

I sat with Karen and Beth until nearly two in the morning, trying to soak in their goodness. It's like that feeling when you watch your child sleeping peacefully and you think to yourself, remember this, remember this, remember this! Because the peaceful part will probably be long gone by morning. And by eight o'clock am the next day so were Beth, Graham, Karen, John, and little Parker.

One of the most difficult versions of goodbye is the one called I'm not sure when we'll see each other again. That was what we were dealing with this week and after we finally bade our two a.m. goodnight to each another I sat in the darkness of my room for a long time. It doesn't seem fair that I can see the obnoxious grocery clerk whenever I visit the store around the corner, but my dearest friends aren't within reach. Not even close.

I woke up with the birds to say goodbye to Beth and Graham, and then stood at my front window as I watched their tail lights disappear. A couple of hours later I listened to Jeremy help Karen and John load their suitcases into our car and I slid further down beneath my sheets. Maybe if I don't get out of bed I won't have to do this. In the end I was left standing on our front curb in my pajamas, tears streaming down my face as my neighbors scratched their heads and wondered.

Many aspects of the trail are already laid, aren't they? It's not as if we can reach the final stepping stone and say, never mind. I'd prefer to hold really still and perch right here. When I was eighteen I met a young man who had forfeited his admission to an excellent university in favor of traveling to Europe for a year, just to have a look around. I remember thinking how brave he was, particularly because he seemed so nervous about his decision. I guess bravery seems more noticeable, more real, when coupled with natural inhibitions. But when grown ups speak of the metaphorical closing of doors, I believe this is what they mean. When you are eighteen you have the freedom to have a look around Europe instead of going to college. But when you are thirty, with a job and a family knocking down your door, goodbyes become a necessary final stepping stone.

Three weeks is a long time to have company staying in your house, and to live in perpetual vacation mode. But in those final hours before they all left, I wished, I wished, I wished they were staying for four!

Sending my love and well-wishes to my friends back home again in England,

Lauren

3 comments:

  1. Brought tears to my eyes, we felt exactly the same. We loved loved loved staying with you all and it felt like family and hard to say good bye. But I am thankful after so long we have the fun memories and feeling that we would love to come again. I will treasure our trip and look forward to reunions x x

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  2. Brought tears to my eyes too, and I wasn't even there! Actually, it's because I know exactly how you feel. It's never easy when your best friends live such a long way away. The only good thing is that it really does make it that much sweeter when you do see each other again. I love that you all have stayed such close friends. Love you all.
    Kristen xx

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  3. I love you, you are my bestest friend and I don't know what I would do without you, you mean more to me than you will ever know. We met all those years ago (16 Years) for a reason and I will be forever grateful for the time we have spent together.

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