I have to say goodbye to a close friend on Friday – he leaves on a long trip and won’t be back before I’m off to Beijing – and I feel blue. We work together and live close by, and we spend a lot of time together. I can’t believe it’ll suddenly go from all to nothing, and I’m so sad that I won’t see him every day.
It’s the first of many goodbyes I’ll have to say in the next few weeks, and I don’t like it. When I make big moves it’s usually based around career or partner – ambition or love – but it’s always my friends who I miss the most, and rely on the most to see me through the latest adventure. According to wisdom I’ll make new friends; but it’s my old friends who share with me the precious memories that make me smile, who get how I’m feeling (and know how to fix it), and who in fact encourage me to make the big move (and tell me to stop being a whiny git).
I think university was the last time I went somewhere new that had me so engrossed, and affected me so much, that I didn’t miss the life that I’d left. Since then, the friends I made have become the voices in my head and the imaginary audience of my everyday whims. If I see or do something interesting or strange, I immediately think of the friend who’ll get the joke; and even if I’m doing something routine and ordinary, it reminds me of the friend I used to do those things with and it makes me wish painfully that they were here. For friends who are at the forefront of my mind, I find myself seeking out things that they would like, making a mental note to tell them about it in the next phone call or letter.
As it happens, my close friends are scattered around the world, also improvising the plot of their own lives. So it’s not as if by staying in London I get to see any more of a lot of them. But I will really miss the friends I made most recently in London. They shaped and inspired me in many ways and gave me many memories to chuckle over, and, most of all, after I’ve left, they’ll carry on the everyday that I love which I’ll no longer be a part of.
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