The hardest part of growing up is leaving friends behind, all over the world. Such is the burden of my generation: it seems everyone I know has at one time left a love halfway around the world, or has made friends in many places then realized those friends would never meet. Or, like me, realized that the sheer size of the world is big enough to break your heart.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve cried in airplane bathrooms or in cars or trains over the past few years. I’m an inexplicably and unnecessarily emotional traveler. But it never starts in the airport, no; I can say a tearless goodbye, but the second I sit down on the plane, I can feel my eyes welling up. Over the past year especially, I’ve made so many incredible friends across the globe (thanks, in large part, to Global Voices), and have endured many such goodbyes. You’d think I’d learn.
Over beers in Osaka last night, I talked to one dear global friend about being nomadic – I admitted that perhaps I’m not cut out for living out of suitcases, due to some strange feeling of claustrophia that comes with never being able to lay my stuff out. My friend, on the contrary, told me he yearns for that kind of existence, of making new friends everywhere, always moving forward.
What I didn’t say was that I wish I were more like that. Because, despite the sadness that goes with it, there’s nothing I love more than waking up in a new city, especially when I get to do it two days in a row. There’s something incredible about staying up late in Boston on a Thursday night, wandering Osaka’s hip neighborhoods on a Friday, then looking out your window on a Saturday to see Penang’s beautiful landscape folding out beneath your fifth floor hotel room. There’s also something tremendously sad about only catching such brief glimpses of otherworlds. Just as there is something tremendously sad about only catching brief glimpses into the lives of those dearest to you.
And that something never fails to rip my heart open.