Bittersweet is both a contradictory and confusing feeling. Does one cry or rejoice over the idea of experiencing something for the very last time? Well, it obviously depends on the situation, but what is difficult to define are those transitions in life – leaving the past and what is familiar and leaping into a new season of life. You almost feel guilty to be happy about wrapping up one era of time, but forcing sentiment when it fails to come naturally is not good either. Oh, the confusion.
When I recall my final day entering the halls of my high school, I can’t seem to put an emotional tag on my emotions that day. Halfway through the day, memories of sitting in simple ninth grade classes invaded my thoughts, and the fact that I would never get to incessantly complain in a certain classroom ever again made me surprisingly heartbroken. Somehow, at the last moment, all the happy times and cherished memories from high school decided to start a tug of war with my emotions. But how could a sudden longing for just a few more increments of time in high school combat my three-year-long giddiness for college? Because emotions are uncontrollable, and I am convinced our hearts and our brains don’t work together well enough to process “lasts."
The worst part about the end of something is that you seldom appreciate it enough before it slips through your fingers. Minutes before I saw my home town in my rear view mirror, I took a lap through my house, stopping at my room to just stare. It was highly melodramatic of me, but I had to soak it all in and make sure I had one last glimpse before I began living in a cinderblock room with odd smelling drawers. Hours of restless sleep before a big event, getting ready for dances, crying just because – all of it occurred there, in that square room on the far edge of the house. It is said that home is a feeling and not a place, but some places you just can’t help but miss.
Formal goodbyes are an awful thing. And when someone says “it’s not a goodbye, it’s a see you later," it honestly just makes it worse. While truthfully one of my hardest goodbyes was to my dogs, which could be a whole tear-jerking essay in itself, the reality of saying to someone “see you at Thanksgiving” is just plain weird and sad, especially with those people you see every day, and who have become so familiar to you that you forget how pivotal they are in your life. I told my family to not make saying goodbye a big deal, but it naturally sort of was because you just can’t help it. But, no worries, I’ve already planned a trip home soon. Goodbyes are painful at the time, but looking back, you aren’t struck with as intense of a feeling as you were upon the farewell.
The silver lining of doing things for the last time is that it means you will soon do things for the first time. College especially is a world of unknowns and independence, but loved ones are never more than a call away. The only time it is easy to miss home is when you actually sit down and think about it, and though I’ve been gone for merely two weeks, it feels like months and homesickness has not yet gone viral. Goodbyes breed transition, which forms new beginnings, meaning more goodbyes will not occur for quite some time. A new day and a new start are only born after a few “lasts” are completed and a chapter is concluded.
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