Goodbyes aren’t easy.
Once upon a time, several years ago, I was the transient one. I was traveling solo, spending no more than a month at a time in each destination. Though I am not generally a spontaneous person, I was much more so then. There were no deep roots. I experienced new people and places in a perpetual honeymoon phase and then left as soon as I felt a desire to move on. It may have been exciting at times, but it was also lonely. In each new place, I stayed with locals who took me in and showed me why they lived in the best place in the world. A farmer with a coffee truck and a field full of goats, an older woman in a bustling city who desired someone to keep her company, a busy family who integrated me into their life and let me join their always entertaining adventures. In each place, I fit myself into the new community. And then, as soon as I started settling in, it came time to leave.
Now I am the more settled one. I have lived in the same place for several years and have formed ties to my diverse and close-knit community. But this island is still transient, and the longer I stay, the more people leave. It is a way of life here, something to which I am learning to adjust, but goodbyes still have a way of catching me off-guard. Sometimes those goodbyes are said to people who have integrated themselves deeply into my life over the course of months or years, and sometimes those goodbyes are said to passing no-longer-strangers whose friendships took me by surprise. Some people stay and some people go. Some friendships persist and grow through time zones and across oceans, and some do not.
Goodbyes can be uncomfortable reminders of life’s inevitable uncertainty in the face of change. But they can also be reminders of the family that I do have here. A family who will do life with me and ride the ups and downs by my side. And I will try to hold the rest with an open hand, because it was never really mine to hold anyway.
Maddie Buresh is a writer and photographer with an unquenchable desire to explore the great outdoors, from the ocean to the mountains. She finds joy in trying new things, living in community, and crafting stories that encourage people to go outside, have adventures, and enjoy this big, beautiful world.