Every time I glance at my calendar my breath stutters.
Next weekend I will fly over the Rockies for a week long visit with family. And ten days later, I will return to the airport with a one way ticket in hand that will remove me from Vancouver, this beautiful city that has been my home for 3 years.
I have 16 days left on this coast. And yet, I have neglected to tell some of my closest friends that I am leaving.
I tell myself that it’s due to the overwhelming uncertainty in my plans. It seems foolish to make an announcement when I’m not sure what exactly I am announcing. I do not know which school I will be attending next year. I do not know where exactly I will be living. I do not have plans for the summer.
But I do have a ticket for April 30th. I am certain that I am leaving Vancouver. And my friends should know that.
I’ve left many places before. Growing up, I switched schools every couple of years. I lived on two different continents. I devoted myself to performance, my entire social life consisting of cast mates, only to immediately lose touch after a run ended.
And while endings are always sad, they have never struck me as overly distressing. I did not cry at graduation. At my summer camp’s closing circle I bit the inside of my cheek, trying desperately to fit in, but all I felt was a sad acceptance.
Now, however, everything is different. I am looking forwards to new possibilities, but day after day I sit on the bus, staring out the window, with tears crowding the corners of my eyes.
And I am reluctant to tell my friends.
I never loved the city I grew up in. I loved certain things that I did, and people in my life, but I had no feelings for the city itself.
Somehow, I fell in love with Vancouver. The dark skies relieving my sensitive eyes, the delicate cherry blossoms, the sparkling water, and the mountains, towering over the metropolis and teaching me humility.
I love specific places too – restaurants, shops, venues, street corners – but I recognize their direct connection to memories. To people.
And those people are not permanent fixtures of this city. They will move on, whether this year, the next, or the one after. They will follow their own paths just as I am, and I can only hope that the two will geographically cross in the future.
Yet, even knowing this, knowing that it was always going to be this way, I still refrain from speaking the words. I can’t bear to make it real.
Perhaps this time is different because my friends here have weathered so much with me. When I was first beginning my hospital visits I felt like an earthquake was tearing through my life, ripping people away from me. It felt like such a violent loss, but the shifting left me with an incredibly solid foundation. A foundation that takes about an hour to notice whether or not I’m wearing my tinted glasses. Or using my walking poles. A foundation that sees me. Only me and always me.
And leaving that is heartbreaking. Because as much as we claim that we’ll stay in touch, I know that some of us won’t. At least not enough to be part of each other’s lives.
I am excited to venture out into the unknown, and cautiously hopeful for the people I will meet. But with any any shift, no matter how positive, comes a loss. And it is a loss that I don’t want to come to terms with or accept.
So I have delayed. I have delayed making it real. I have delayed saying goodbye to my friends and to my city.
But I have 16 days left. And it’s time to use them.