I spent two whole days last week crying at work after being reassured that when co-volunteers Caitlin, Jenn and Francesca all left at the same time it would be like ripping off a Band-Aid. That was a nice thought, but it was also just plain wrong. It was more like getting punched in the gut three separate times on the same day.
Yes, I know, melodramatic. But when you spend almost every waking moment with the same people for an entire year, departure isn’t just saying goodbye to a person. Departure becomes untangling a collective existence until you’re all left as floating loose ends, a little lost and a little scared of what’s next.
The past week has been a lot of adjusting to a new chapter in Nome, a chapter that is without some but still filled with so much. Luckily, I continue to be surrounded by wonderful people both in the volunteer house and in the community as I tumble into my own last few weeks in this town I’ve called home.
It’s easy to obsess over the “what’s next”, but planning tends to be the biggest waste of living. As my own departure nears, I find myself trying to absorb everything I can about this place: hiking Newton for the mountain-view, eating blueberries straight from the tundra and playing softball under the iconic White Alice towers. I don’t think leaving people or places will ever get much easier for me, but I know it’s easy to be grateful to have met and experienced them in the first place.
In order to express just an ounce of that gratitude, I wrote a poem for the departing friends that I read at our staff meeting (because why keep my crying contained to my own desk?). Anyway, it was a recap of the year in poem form and the last part went like this:
It’s the endings that make me think back to the start,
when nothing was known except a tug in our hearts.
So if a new adventure comes and your fear says no,
Just remember this year and go, please just go.
If the risks that you take end up in this way,
You’ll be happy you went and in fact, you’ll be changed.
I remember it said, “no one gets here by mistake”
And I’d go one step further and say that it’s fate.