You knew the night out in undergrad was over when they turned on the ugly lights. The lights that allow you to see your runny make-up, precisely how intoxicated you are and question if you actually want to go home with the person you’ve been dancing with for past half hour. This is all hypothetical of course because I always went home with the person I was dancing with, my longterm boyfriend at the time, my husband now. But it’s strange how this form of illumination makes you recognize how the alcohol, hip hop and darkness made you feel so free. A moment in time when no one cared. It’s the signal to get home that brings you back to reality, whether it’s that you have the class to get up for the next day, a paper to finish or that you fully regret that last pint that you’re going to pay for tomorrow morning.
I find similarities between this and the process of settling somewhere new. Even if it hurts you kind of just have to look life in the face. It’s always the mundane things that you do, little by little, that makes it hit home that you actually don’t have a home anymore and that your current surroundings are half-finished versions of a place to belong. That there’s still a ways to go. Eventually the light goes on that things have changed.
My realization hit me through metal objects of high practical value: when I changed up my keys and emptied out my change purse. When I placed my new keys onto my ring they were so heavy. So I thought, I certainly do not have a need to open any doors in Toronto the near future, so why not just put them away for now. And that’s precisely what I did. I put them in a place where I would not to lose them: in the pockets of my luggage. That’s when I knew that I would never need them without the gear to take me back, a temporary vessel of my belongings for my temporary visit. That place was basically gone from my day to day life and that was fucking sad. Secondly, I kept going into stores and struggling to give exact change to purchases. This was not just annoying but again, cluttering my wallet with weight. So I emptied out the currency that I did not need into a ziploc to use on my next visit. Just like we sold or gave away everything we could before boarding that flight, we were dropping weight every chance we got. Physically I might have felt lighter but the emotional baggage will take time to shed.
Now this is my nostalgia talking and I know that it will go away. The longing will lessen with a schedule, new friends, new plans. Just like how I explain to my son that his grandparents live in a different city that we have to take an airplane to, I’m constantly reminded of not just the physical distance but the emotional one. Lives always go on and in the best of ways. After every month long visit to Burma where I savoured every last minute with my family, my grandmother would always chide me at the airport when I would get too emotional. We were raised to be stoic and an outpouring of tears was the furthest thing from being dignified. She used to say, “we’ve had our fun right?” And of course we did. And we will again. Just like goodbyes are always made worse by prolonging it, you just have to do it. Like Neil Patrick Harris’ character on HIMYM always used to say, “fact, when I get sad I just be awesome instead.” So be awesome and if you’re sad, buy a ticket.