This is going to be another brief and sappy post. Brace yourselves.
In almost exactly a month, I’m leaving Edinburgh. I’m going back to America, back home, to my parents, my family, some remarkable friends, my state, my nation. I’m looking forward to it, seeing people I haven’t seen, seeing a country I’ve been away from for a year, hearing American voices, eating chili dogs. Hell, I even miss high fructose corn syrup.
Last week, I had a mini freakout. Edinburgh suddenly felt ridiculous. The tourists are impossible for a city of this size. The road works are confusing. The preparations for the festival seem to be put there specifically to make life difficult for anyone trying to live in this town. It’s still cold at the end of July; the sun only makes sporadic appearances. The pubs close too early. I hated Edinburgh. Good riddance that I’m leaving, I thought. To hell with it.
Which is not true, of course. I don’t hate Edinburgh. I’m not in love with it, like some of my friends are, but I don’t hate it. I’ve enjoyed living here, all things considered. I like the pubs and the wandering narrow streets, the weird directions, the gothic buildings. I love the strange otherworldliness of Old Town and the clean Georgian elegance of New Town. I even kind of love the crowds, which aren’t so bad once you get off the Royal Mile. I’m ready to leave the city, but I actually think I’ll miss it.
But the worst part is the part that I really don’t want to deal with, or think about. It’s the people. I will miss the people. I’ll miss getting a phone call at 9:30 with those fatal words ‘let’s just go out for one’. I’ll miss the blow-out parties at Lindsay’s flat. I’ll miss lying in the Meadows on those rare sunny days. I’ll miss the coffees we’ve drunk. I’ll miss the drunkenness and the sobriety. I’ll miss the faces of people I know so well. I’ll miss going to the Vue on Saturdays, and getting drunk on Tuesday afternoon (or Wednesday or Thursday for that matter). I’ll miss sitting down in a pub and the smiles when someone says ‘I wrote a thousand words today!’ I’ll miss the stories.
I’ve left places before. I’ve left friends before. Clinton, St. Andrews, New York and now Edinburgh. People scattered across the world in random nations, states, provinces. Keeping in touch by facebook. Hearing about friends getting married, or losing loves, or getting a job, a home, another life. I’ve managed to stay in contact with a lot of people, and I plan on seeing them all again. But it’s never the same. Not because people change too much. Hell, I’ve got friends I’ve known since middle school and, despite growing up, we’re still friends. But it’s never the same because something has always ended. A year at graduate school, at college, at high school. We grow up and stay close, but the experience cannot be repeated.
All of the philosophical stuff comes out at times like this. Life is ephemeral. We only have the moments as they happen and then they are gone. We should not try to hang on to them too tightly, for we will only live in the past. All I can think right now, though, is that a good friend is about to leave to go home. She’s not the first to leave; she won’t be the last. Toasts will be drunk and promises made and, eventually, kept. It’s not the end; it’s merely another step along the road. That doesn’t make it any easier.
Let’s go for just one more.