Sadness resists description. I am trying.
Last time I left a place it took me four months to say what I wanted to say about that process, and somewhere it stopped being about me but became about a single emotion, the way it hurts when you have constructed yourself through the things you take with you and then you are forced to leave them behind.
If I were making Detritus again, this time, it would not be about objects. It would be about people. It would be much closer to the bone and much messier. It would be about Australia.
I’m not very good at talking about emotions. I’m better at writing them, so long as they are righteous anger or contemplative melancholy. I am not good at joy; I hesitate to put words on it, to name it, in case it dissipates. I am even worse at pain.
I am heartbroken to be leaving. There. That is a way of wording it that does not say too much. It implies a great deal but leaves me some cover, some distance from the emotions themselves. I am not saying that at some moments my heart feels like it will burst out of my chest. I am not admitting that I wonder, truly, whether I will ever be at home anywhere again. I am not speaking on the rending of bonds that are no less strong for being relatively new. I am not even mentioning the loneliness I fear, the life I am leaving, the friends I love intensely who I might never have met, so easily, and now might never meet face-to-face again.
Never is a long time. I can safely say: I will come back, if it is within my power. It will not be the same; that’s safe to say too. I won’t come home to these people in my house, grinning and gaming and asking how my day was. I won’t be able to pop for coffee with them of an afternoon after my shift ends. I won’t jump off things and fall over in the same room any more. My Sundays won’t be proper Sundays. We will still talk. We will still jump. We will still game. We will still drink coffee. We will be many thousands of miles apart, but long distances are not the barrier they once were.
It is probably not safe to say the partings feel like grit scraped over raw bruised skin, each one a new pain on top of pain.
It’s right to talk about how excited I am about New York (and I am!), how much I am looking forward to the work (because I am!), how thrilling it is to live this ridiculous life, to live in these wonderful cities, to span the world (and it is, truly, it is). It’s good to say these things. It’s good to remember them. Even aside from the work, which promises to be wonderful, I am looking forward to arriving, to finding and furnishing an apartment, to MOMA, to Broadway, to the tall buildings and the shops and the crush of the city, to the food, to the rush and thrill of a new place and new people.
And it’s good to talk about how proud I am of what we’ve done out here, how lucky we’ve been to find such friends, to take such joy in work, to play in new cities and to have the great privilege of beginning to discover a country. How happy I am to be able to call Sydney home, even for such a short time. I would not swap this sadness for the sadness of never having come here, or the sadness of not making friends: I am glad to have made marks on this place, and to be marked by it in return. I have had a wonderful time.
But I’m scared, too. I’m scared we won’t find new people. I’m scared that this is my tribe and I’m making a terrible choice by leaving them, no matter that it is the right choice for my work. I’m scared that I’m fucking up. I’m scared that, of these two delicious cakes, the one I’m not choosing will be the tastiest. I’m aware of how incredibly lucky I am, to be able to be scared about all this.
Sadness is hard. My heart will not break, but it will scar; it always does, though this will be the worst wound I have inflicted in some time. My world will expand again and it will fill with new people and I hope, desperately, breathlessly, so hard I screw up my eyes and clench my fists, that the friends I’ve met here will never leave my life, even though I’m choosing, geographically, to leave theirs. I am an idiot for throwing away such happiness. I am making the right choice, to chase more. I am so lucky and so frightened of getting lost.
Goodbye, Australia. See you soon.