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On Saying Goodbye (and Travel Without Traveling)

Canada British Columbia Couples
by Carlo Alcos May 3, 2011
It’s transition time; the time between the seasons when many good friends leave.

I’VE WAXED POETIC about my new hometown, Nelson, BC, many times in recent months, as anyone who knows me or has been following along could attest to. Since moving here I’ve really started to understand the importance of community and connection. It really is about people.

Saying goodbye is a common occurrence for travelers. It doesn’t make it any easier though, in my opinion. Saying goodbye is always hard. I’ve been walking around these days with a heavy feeling — an impending sadness. The thing about Nelson is that it’s an extremely transient town. This is part of the excitement of living here; the opportunity to meet so many great people who are passing through. Of course, the flip side to that is having to say bye to them at some point.

Doing this on the road is one thing. When I’ve said adios while traveling it’s usually been under my conditions. Even when it’s not, the newness of what lays ahead serves to blunt the sharp edge of parting. Being still I don’t seem to have this luxury. Someone comes into town, we make friends, they leave, and here I am.

I always say to people that living here is a great exercise in facing attachment issues. It’s a great exercise in learning how to say goodbye. How to let go. Right now, we are in a transition period. School is over (many of my friends are students) so lots leave to go back home or to work for the summer. Some return, but some do not.

When I first arrived in Nelson, I put forth a lot of effort in plugging myself in, using Couchsurfing to meet a few people, which inevitably led to meeting others. I surrounded myself with a nice little circle of friends. Potluck dinners were had, music shows were attended, beer was drank. After a few months, my friends started to slowly leave.

I entered a “new” phase. I saw a girl. I made new friends. But then they started to leave too. It’s the seasons. Skiers and snowboarders come for the deep champagne powder of the local mountain, Whitewater (aka WH20). Then they leave.

It’s springtime now and I’ve been working in the garden (my first time gardening), watching things sprout and grow and bloom. I experienced an amazing friendship sprout, grow, and bloom in the past couple of months. She left today. And still, more made their way out of town last week.

It’s hard to take, all this leaving. But I have to remember to acknowledge and appreciate what these people brought into my life for the time they were in it. Each one builds upon me, each one a reflection of who I am, which I then reflect outwards. Some will be back. Many will not. But there are always more coming.

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