Leaving is a familiar feeling. I’ve done it many times before. But this time it seems different. I’m trying hard to process it all. To stay in the moment and feel all the complex feelings that come with closing one door and opening another. It’s overwhelming.
The first time I left to go live abroad, I left my mother. I left my boyfriend. I left my dogs. I had just graduated from college. In a lot of ways, I was so young and unexperienced, I didn’t really understand what was going on. I knew it was big, but I didn’t fully understand the significance.
Tonight is my last night in San Francisco. I lived here, in this apartment for nearly 10 years. This is the apartment I first lived in after my mom died. It’s where I lived when our dog Kenya died. It’s where I lived when I earned my teaching credential and my master’s. This is where I brought Abby home to. It’s the longest stretch of time I’ve ever lived in one place. It was an important 10 years. I came to the Bay Area 11 years ago because my mother was very sick. I did the only thing I knew how to do. I stayed. But my life was interrupted. I was in the middle of living my life as an expat, traveling the world as a teacher. I didn’t know what the world had in store for me, but I knew I wanted to go see. When I came here, I left a little bookmark in that other life I was living.
During the last 10 years, I developed a career, made some very strong friendships, and strengthened my relationship with my brother and his wife. And then when they had kids, it became so important for me to have a strong bond with them. These past 10 years have been wonderful. But now it’s time to open back up to that bookmark again. I’m not being interrupted anymore. I can go see what the world has in store for me.
I don’t actually leave America tomorrow. I’m just leaving San Francisco. But this is the end of this era for me. I am so excited to open my new chapter, but boy is it hard to leave this one. Tonight I went to my final session at my process group. They remarked about how I chose to spend my final night with them. With women who are a part of the process group, but aren’t (and can’t) be my friends outside the group. It struck me as well. But I was prepared. I spent time with each of my friends during the past few weeks. I am already packed. Things are in order. Going to the group tonight seemed like the right thing to do. The group would force me to process this major event in my life. They’d force me to reflect and to be present in it. I wanted that. And it was a really great session. We did a farewell ritual. One woman brought in a wooden heart for me. They passed it around and reflected on my time on the group and some of them talked about how I affected them. It was a really special way to spend my last night in San Francisco. I think most people who go through this don’t get to have this type of experience. I’m really grateful I had this.
I’m sad tonight, but only because it’s hard to say goodbye. It’s hard to let go. And I’m letting go of a lot here. But letting go is one of the most important parts of life, and I’ve learned to do it pretty well. I’m allowed to feel sad about this while also feeling so happy and excited to move to Sri Lanka. But before Sri Lanka, there is America! Tomorrow, Be and I are going to set out on our road trip. We’ll go up to Tahoe, then to Idaho, and Wyoming, followed by Montana, then South Dakota. After that, Colorado, Utah, Las Vegas, and back to California via Big Sur. It’s an epic road trip, which will bring us through a lot of parts of America neither of us have ever seen. And more importantly, it’s a chance to spend some quality time with a very important friend.
When one door closes, another one opens. Here we go!