Saying goodbye

Tidings Columnist

Saying goodbye is one of my least favorite things to do. This summer, however, it is an all too common occurrence.

First, I said goodbye to high school and to a large part of my childhood. Then I wished luck to my favorite exchange student, Angel, when he went back to Mexico. I said a final goodbye to my grandmother's standard poodle, Jed, as well, when he was put to sleep. In July, three of my very close and wonderful old friends came to visit and then, of course, had to return home again soon after. I also bid farewell to my dreams of immediate grandeur and the big city life, as I made the decision to go to college in Ashland next year.

Hardest of all, I also parted ways with my best friend.

As the fall approaches quickly and ominously, it seems as if not a day goes by when I don't say goodbye to someone, as all of my peers set out to make their own ways in the world.

Despite the abundance of practice, they never get any easier.

So, to cope with all of them, I began to busy my life and my schedule as much as possible. Almost every day for three months I would go to the gym, notch up the level on the elliptical trainer as high as possible, and lose myself in loud, angry girl music. I went out of town as much as possible too; heading to both San Francisco and Portland twice. I also worked very hard at two jobs, and then would go home and watch an insane amount of dramatic television shows on DVD in a hope that fictional problems could make my own seem less overwhelming.

Long story short, it ended up a reasonably antisocial summer for me. But as pitiable as that may sound, I actually ended up growing, changing, and learning more about myself than I could have ever thought possible.

Because somewhere, amidst the long work outs and Sex and the City reruns, I discovered the kind of person inside myself that I truly wish to be. I don't want to waste my energy on things that don't matter anymore and I want to always believe in myself. I want to follow my dreams with no inhibitions, and not let other people's opinions of me be as damaging as I have let them be in the past. I want to surround myself with people that make me laugh, who love me for who I am, and who believe in themselves and the people around them. I also want to embrace the pain of saying goodbye, because now I understand where it comes from and how beautiful it can be.

Because what I realized is this: when it is so difficult to let some thing go that even your soul itself hurts &

you can only count yourself lucky. Because that kind of pain means that you have been loved. It means that you have been changed. It means that you have been able to laugh and cry with nothing holding you back.

So tonight, when I said goodbye to my oldest and dearest friend Victoria before she left for college, I didn't try to ignore the pain that I felt inside. I felt that pain because I love her and she loves me. What will matter more in my lifetime than friends like her?

So instead of suppressing my aching heart, I cherished it.

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