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When It's Time for Goodbye
On loving & leaving people and places you love
I have ~4 days left in in New York.
I am saying goodbye to so much, including a decade’s worth of friends and familiarity that came from devouring everything this city had to offer.
I want to tell you that I’m sad, or even excited, but I’m mostly just numb.*
Of course I can tell you (and myself) that I will come back**, and maybe I will, but I know keeping this particular chapter of my life (a decade defined by my MBA, dating, Fort Greene, and ed-tech) indefinitely open will hold me back.
So, I’m writing this as a reminder to myself (and anyone else who needs it), that endings—even the hardest, scariest, most final endings—can be so beautiful.
(Forgive me if any of these thoughts feel incomplete. Trying to get these thoughts out of my head so I can just be here these remaining hours.)
TLDR; nothing helps me open up more to life than death, so I know deep in my gut that it’s time to close this chapter.
Endings bring me into the present moment.
As I touched on in my last post, when time is limited, there’s no time to rush.
I never truly saw my grandma until we looked into each other’s eyes and said our final goodbye.
The clarity with which we saw each other in those moments has seriously made me want to become a death doula. Everything that could ever need to be said was said, without saying anything. I count those few seconds as one of the truest, most beautiful memories of my life.
Now that my days here are numbered, I feel I am starting to see the city with clearer, fresher eyes again.
Endings flood me with gratitude.
After my mom died, I was surprised to feel as much gratitude as I did grief.
I’m sure you think you appreciate your mom already. I know I did. But let me tell you something that may hurt to hear: you will have no idea how truly important she is (even if your relationship is strained) until she’s gone.
Of course such gratitude can make the grief that much worse. Fortunately, the widening gap between gratitude and grief is so alive. It’s as if my range of emotions doubled after my mom died.
So many wonderful experiences followed, including ones that never would have happened had she not died. Primarily: moving here in the first place!
This city has sustained me over the last decade. Who will I be without an infinite reserve of energy at my doorstep?
I think leaving will allow me to see more clearly how New York has similarly doubled my range: of what I believe is possible.
The grief of a goodbye is that much deeper knowing how formative my time here has been, but the gratitude is that much greater.
Endings force me to spread my wings.
When I close a chapter, I know that I am about to undergo some major growth.
After I quit my dream job, I realized how working in tech had narrowed my perspective.
My goal to build bridges was co-opted for someone else’s profit. I forgot I could live a life that didn’t prioritize what the company prioritized. I gave up on so many other dreams—to make documentaries, to write a book, even to become a marine biologist—because I believed I had to choose one career path.
Closing that chapter allowed me to venture out into the unknown, test new career paths, and meet different types of people. I grew so much as a result, even if my bank account suffered.
I love how familiar and comfortable I now am here, but my growth has stagnated (and let’s be honest, my bank account needs some life support). It’s time to take another leap.
Endings represent new beginnings.
It wasn’t until I really let my ex go (only six years after breaking up 🤦♀️), that I could fully be open to the new relationship that I was starting to suspect may be “it” for me.
That new beginning really was “it.” And what a feeling that is. Even if my partner and I were to go our separate ways, while we were together, everything fell into perfect place.
I don’t know what lies beyond New York, maybe it’s “it,” maybe it’s just a pit stop. Whatever it is, it’s a new chapter.
Endings force me to be honest with myself.
When I graduated from college, I avoided a proper goodbye with a couple people I would have called my best friends. We pretended nothing would really change, that we would see each other again soon. We don’t even talk now.
The same happened after my year studying abroad. And the Tour d’Afrique. And my MBA. Even the time I moved just a block away from an apartment I loved.
In clinging to the idea that we could keep the beautiful thing we had going going, I missed the opportunity to calibrate how I go about my life so I could live it more intentionally. Instead the best friends slipped away.
A true ending means I have to confront my regrets. Just as I regret not telling so many loved ones how much they mean to me, I regret spending so much time on Zoom while living in the greatest city in the world. I will try to do less of that going forward.
Endings help preserve beautiful memories.
Saying goodbye is sad. But it’s how I’m really feeling. I’m trying to lean into it this time, writing thank you cards for baristas and doormen and babysitters, and allowing for teary goodbyes with friends, and most importantly, this place I love so dearly.
New York: what an incredible playground you have been for me. Maybe our paths will cross again. I know if they do it will be a totally different adventure. And if they don’t, that doesn’t make me love you or appreciate you any less.
I love you. I will miss you. Goodbye.