It’s no secret that I love travelling. Some might say I’m addicted to moving – seeking out new places, faces and spaces. My favourite part of exploring, though, is the people I meet. Many can vouch for the virtues of solo travel, but I prefer adventures with another by my side.
The downside of this is that I have to say goodbye far more frequently than I would like. As a departure date draws close, I start missing the place and the people – and this before I’ve even left. I make plans to dine at my favourite restaurant, spend one more morning in my favourite coffee shop, buy that trinket I’ve been eyeing up for ages.
Maybe this makes it worse – this attempt to squeeze every ounce of enjoyment out of every last moment. Maybe the trick is to go about things as normal, as if you’re not about to jump on a jet and fly away; maybe then the farewells are not so sad.
For me, the travelling and the goodbyes started young, with family holidays by the pool in Turkey, where all the children became best friends for a fortnight, and left with promises to write regularly. It was the same at summer camp. Then there were the high school goodbyes; the ones after studying abroad; on leaving university; after a year of adventures in Asia.
One parting in particular sticks out in my mind. It was a brief goodbye – there was a plane to be boarded – followed by my solo subway ride back across town, tears flowing and very likely frightening my fellow Chinese passengers, who tend to be averse to overt public displays of emotion. It was then I realised, somewhat surprised, the physical meaning of the phrase ‘to have a heavy heart.’ The parting was so painful that my heart really did feel heavy.
Luckily that goodbye was not for good, and that’s the real upside of travelling. You make firm friends, and even though eventually you are all far away, the ‘farewells’ are not forever. Loved ones are what make the adventures memorable, so for now, it’s not goodbye, but see you soon.
Have you ever made friends or fallen in love on the road? How do you feel about saying ‘goodbye’ when you’re travelling?