Written for and published on The Insiter
The generation of goodbyes
Eva Gueorguieva on 23 October, 2016
A few years ago (four, to be exact) I made a choice. A choice that completely changed my life, a choice, because of which, I went through some of the hardest and some of the best times in my life. I made the choice to say goodbye.
Now, years later, I am sitting in my bedroom and thinking about all the people that I have met, all the places that I have been to, and all of the goodbyes I’ve said, and to be honest with you, I lost count a couple of hours ago.
When I was 18 and graduating high-school back home, I already knew I wanted to leave. In fact, most of my friends and classmates did, and a lot of us ended up packing bags and getting on planes that scattered us all over the world. However, I knew my heart desired to travel long before that happened.
When I was only 4 or 5 years old, sitting in the kitchen with my mother one evening, I pointed to a picture of my sister waving goodbye to my parents from a ship. I told my mother that when I grow up I am going to get on one of these, wave goodbye, and say “Bye-bye, mama, I am leaving”. Of course, I don’t remember doing that, but I will never forget the night she told me that story with tears in her eyes.
I will never forget the first time I got my hands on one of these massive encyclopedias they used to sell back in the day either. It had so many pretty pictures of the Amazon, Africa and Asia, and I just thought to myself “God, if only I could see at least one of these places in my life!”. I was sure that was impossible. And then I grew up to realise – it is really not.
Today, still not having seen the Amazon, Africa or Asia, I can say that not only my heart continues to desire all of that, but I am quite sure I am going to fulfill my dreams very soon. But all of that comes with a price – saying goodbye. Saying goodbye to your family, saying goodbye to your best friends, saying goodbye to the man you want to be with, saying goodbye to your home. But here is the catch – you never realise how many more goodbyes you will have to say, even after you have left. You don’t realise how many more people you will meet and grow to love and care for, only to eventually have to say goodbye to them as well.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t regret my choice. I wouldn’t change the way my life is for the world. I will continue to travel and live in different places, only to have to leave again one day, because it is worth it. It gives you more than you can ever imagine. But it also comes with a lot of sadness, nostalgia and pain – a lot of it.
A few months ago, I came home one night to find one of my dearest friends sitting in her room in tears. She had lost a loved one from her home-country, and she never got the chance to say goodbye. The memory of this day is imprinted in my brain and I will never forget how she looked at me and said “You know, Eva, I’ve been reading all these travel blogs, and websites, and articles, and they all tell you how great it is to travel. They publish photos of pretty places and plates of food and wine, but they never prepare you for the pain you will have to face if you lose someone you love and don’t even get the chance to say goodbye. I wish somebody talked about that too.” Ironic, isn’t it? The generation of goodbyes that not always gets the chance to say it. That is the price we have to pay.
I don’t want to be a part of that generation of goodbyes. I have made a choice and stand by it, but I have also decided that I will get on a thousand more planes if I have to, but I will see my loved ones, my parents, and my friends again. Maybe just for a stolen weekend every now and then, or maybe for longer; I don’t know. What I do know is that I can make time for that, and I most certainly will. And yes, I know I’m going to have to say many more goodbyes in my life, but I will always find my way back, so that I can say hello again.
So, if you are at home tonight, give your parents a hug good night. Give your sister a kiss on the cheek. Tell your partner that you love them. Take a moment to realize that you’re home and to appreciate it. And if you are not, then look around you and tell your friends, or flatmates, or whoever is a part of your life at the moment, what they mean to you. You never know when one of them will become a part of the generation of goodbyes.
Dedicated to my family, my loved ones and my dear friend Diana, who went through a horrible time, but grew stronger and became an even greater person than she was before.