Golden Goodbyes: A Tribute to Fleeting Friends

On my first flight to this place, I was too scared to sleep. I had hours to ponder the unknown, to hide my shaking fists beneath scratchy airplane blankets, and to attempt to drown out fearful thoughts with music. It was the last day of my 22nd year and I was certain that I was setting out on a solo journey, a year of lonely adventure and reflection. I felt removed from the colorful patterns that surrounded me, sure my 23rd year would be one of distant lessons, and definitely not love.

Ten months later, as I say tearful goodbyes, I know now that I was wrong. I know now that fear and distance breeds closeness, a kind of friendship that can only belong to outsiders guided by a shared sense of searching. 

As the farewell hugs finalize the days of sun and spice, I realize now that connections rely on nothing but an openness, a laugh, a common spirit. Many of the friends I’ve made here are entirely different ages, from opposite sides of the world, and in completely different income brackets. As I’ve watched predetermined walls fall thanks to a plastic table and a few bottles of beer, I’ve gained hope and been reminded that friends are discovered in the most unexpected places. Even in preconceived darkness, a sparkle can be found.  

The tragedy of these temporary friendships lies in the limited time they grow out of, and the bittersweet taste is constant. These are the kind of goodbyes that may be final, with continuation thwarted by distance and new lives. They sting, every time, and no callouses build to soften the pain.

Many people spend years with these kind of constant goodbyes, a cycle of friends that come and go. It’s the price you pay for uprooting your life to another continent, worlds away from the people who share similar memories. It’s a choice, and I don’t think my bleeding heart can handle it forever, but excitement outweighs the hurt for now. Perhaps that’s my main lesson from this year, realizations that lead to slight revisions in the plan, a rerouted map moving away from the endless ocean and closer to the lives I love. All flowers in time bend towards the sun

Beach weekends often act as bookends here, with sand and laughs a fitting send-off to months or years of much of the same. Recently there’s been a lot of those weekends, and as sad as they are, I’m so thankful for every friend, every acquaintance, every person who proved my fears wrong. Bonfires burn down, but every flame sears a cherished memory into the past. 

As my own September departure date approaches, the feeling of distance between those colorful patterns and my pale pigments has disappeared. I still realize the differences, still often feel like an outsider in some ways, but the other outsiders here have taught me the cultural contrasts are something I should appreciate and hold close. The daily challenges and new connections ward off a jaded soul. On my flight back to my old continent, this time I’ll sleep easy. It was a year of great people and tight ties, and as my 23rd year comes to a close, I no longer doubt that loneliness is a choice. I now welcome the tearful, golden goodbyes to the friends I have yet to know.



Typical Kelsey photo face. I try.

Typical Kelsey photo face. I try.







3 Responses to “Golden Goodbyes: A Tribute to Fleeting Friends”
  1. Paul Parsons says:

    Hi Honey,

    Mom and I just read your post. You are getting better and better as a writer! We are sitting in Cafe Galleria, well at least what used to be. It is now an authentic Mexican restaurant! We will take you there.



    Sent from my iPhone

  2. Tony says:

    Goodbyes are only ways of opening doors for new friends to come in.

    Will miss your laugh, smile, clumsiness and photo bombing.. Xxx

  3. Abel Covarrubias says:

    Hope you keep writing… ;P

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