“We need to do a Vegas trip!”
We were sitting at the restaurant, chatting and joking about the usual nonsense when the penny suddenly dropped. All it took was a simple, way-too-early suggestion as to our plans for the summer to make me realise how much my life is about to change. The final countdown has begun – I’m leaving London in less than a month.
Don’t panic, this post isn’t about to turn into some cliché-filled episode about the new chapter I’m embarking on or how I’m finally spreading my wings and doing what’s best for me. I’m not sat here singing along to Boyz II Men’s It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday with a box of tissues. Let’s leave all of that to the inebriated version of me who will inevitably kill your vibe in the coming weeks, outside some bar in the early hours of the morning.
On a Saturday morning more than four years ago, Dad and I got up early to fill the car with all my possessions and we headed to Birmingham for the first time. I remember how nervous I was, texting the guys to see how they’re settling-in in Nottingham and Leeds so I might know what to expect. Already then we started discussing when we’ll be visiting one another. This time around, it’s not going to be so simple.
I remember how every weekend at home that first year, would become some high school reunion. Running around the Faces dance-floor hugging everyone as if we hadn’t seen each other in forever. This time around, coming home isn’t simply a couple of hours of radio singalongs driving down the M1.
I’m just not good with this stuff – how do I even say goodbye? I’m not country enough to pull off Woody’s “So long, partner”, I’m not cool enough for Kobe’s “Mamba out”, and if I pull out a lighter and try to go for E.T.’s “I’ll be right here”, you just know one of us is ending up with first-degree burns.
It’s not like I’m never coming back. It’s not like I’ll never see any of you again. Yet there’s a certain finality to it all. We’ll never be here again – all of us together as a group, in this place where anything is possible and our future is yet to be decided. I know that it’s a good thing – that we’ll all grow up and zero in on what we love and what we’re good at. It’s going to be amazing, sitting around and reminiscing together, telling each other the ways that our lives unfolded.
Yet there’s a selfish little part of me that can’t help but feel saddened by the idea. A certain part of me that would love nothing more than to see us all repeat ourselves out of nostalgia as if nothing had changed. For this part of me knows that in leaving you all, I’m leaving a part of who I am behind. Officially committing the way we were to my memories.
There is no perfect way to say goodbye. There is the lightness and the familiarity that we all want, the feeling that even its final moments, a relationship is still just as fun as it always was. Goodbyes are a certain brush with mortality, the feeling of time running out that leads you to say everything, no matter how uncomfortably honest it may seem.
So I’m going with “I’ll see you soon”. And while I know, on some level, that some of the goodbyes I’ll say this month will be permanent ones, I think it’s better to assume that I would see all of you again some day. It seems a better way to live life, imagining that your next reunion is just around the corner. That your story will never have to come to a real ending.