Miss Aida
Goodbyes are difficult, in the sense that one never can take things for granted. There's no guarantee that I will return to where I was, or if the same people will still be in the same place I left. My last days were hectic, filled with me running around shoving things into multiple boxes and coordinating the move, filled with me not wanting to be emotional about leaving and torn between how excited I was to return to my homeland and my sadness at closing another chapter of my life with some of the most wonderful people I had gotten to know and love.

James and Pei helped Nik and I move our stuff to my new apartments. Everyone else had work and exams, and I had no wish to put the burden of moving on anyone else's shoulders. Moving all our stuff was probably the equivalent of James' daily workout, I teased him about all those muscles being good for something after all. The day was hot and languid; we spent my last hours of daylight bonding over fast food and Boost juice. Laidback smiles, easy conversation and the deceptively lazy day. I almost forgot that I was leaving in less than 24 hours.

And then one thing led to another and I was bombarded by calls and well-wishers and people wanting to know when I was leaving and barely enough time to catch my breath. He stopped by earlier, all quiet, and apologetic for not being able to make it for coffee that night. A sense of regret, and something more. I asked, and he answered, an answer that struck me to the bone. How his friend had committed suicide. My heart went out to him, in all his pain and my inability to console him, and he clung to what small support I was able to offer. And then we were forced to say our goodbyes and he left, and I felt his pain.

And then it was coffee, the whole batch of us walking down the street, chattering loudly to drown out those sad, emotional thoughts, reminiscing about the year's highlights and those promises for an even better year to come. And coffee went by all too fast and I had to leave, with my packed bags and my memories. And as I hugged each one goodbye, and the car pulled out of the driveway, I couldn't resist turning and seeing the dimly lit faces of my friends, lined up in the driveway, and it was a moment in time frozen in my mind. How it might be the last time I would see them in my life. How it would be different when I returned, if I returned at all. How the cumulation of a year's experiences and friendships had been cemented into my life and into my memories and into my heart, and changed me forever. And therein lies the difficulty in goodbyes.
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