It’s almost like being a wildflower.
From one province and from one city to another, I’ve had more than my fair share of hellos and higher-than-average number of goodbyes. Maybe it’s because of the thrill of moving to a new town or maybe it’s because I’ve grown used to moving away that it doesn’t hurt so much when I leave a place. In moving away to different cities and transferring to different schools (seven, to be exact), being constantly on the road to somewhere taught me indispensable lessons I never would’ve gotten from any other experience.
Stepping in to a new city is brimming with endless possibilities. It’s intoxicating. It’s terrifying and an extraordinary feeling all at the same time. I take a tentative step towards yet another town, another place to call “home” and I look around, wide-eyed and curious, but one question persists: “How long do I stay before I’d have to pack my bags and leave all over again?”
It has become a habit to remind myself not to get attached because it makes leaving easier, less painful. Most of it has something to do with embracing impermanence. Most of it has something to do with knowing that when people say, “We’ll be missing you”, they probably only mean it for the first few months or weeks when the pain will be fresh. Every single time I move to another town, it was a series of routine wherein I would always remind myself, “This isn’t going to last, don’t get attached.” People move on and people change their minds. It’s a weird habit, getting used to saying goodbye and never being bothered about it. But it’s the only way to go when you’re someone who doesn’t stay in a place for so long.
A few months into my new school in another new town, I was more than ready to go through the same process. From experience, after all, I know people get used to the absence of others, even the ones they never thought would disappear. But little did I know that I was in for a rude awakening.
The truth about hellos is that you have to anticipate a goodbye somewhere in the end. It doesn’t really matter when, but eventually, it comes. Goodbyes aren’t just in airports, sometimes it’s in a passing look, a silent nod or an unsent message. And the thing is, there’s always that inevitable, looming presence of loss. It’s in the friend you may or may not share 2 am conversations with until you’re thirty. It’s in the city you may or may not leave after a few years. It’s an upsetting either-or. But in between these uncertainties, between the unpredictability of it all, there is beauty in discovering that some things and some people are worth risking a hello for.
Amidst the chaos between random chances, accidents and divine plan, despite the temporariness of it all, there is beauty in knowing that some hellos are worth a painful goodbye.
The difficult part about moving to different places is guarding your heart from temporary figures and reminding yourself that the good things — especially the good things — aren’t made to last. But an even better part of it is conquering the fear of lack of certainty and getting past your own walls. Most of us build emotional fences to guard us in, tucking us inside our comfort zones where we are nothing but safe. But these boundaries don’t always protect us. Most of the time, they lock us in. One day, we’ll look back on the things we should’ve said but never did, on the opportunities we could’ve had but not brave enough to take and by then, it would be too late.
Maybe some hellos are temporary, but just maybe, some are meant to last a lifetime.
Maybe it’s terrifying to take that big risk, but it also just might be the best bet you could ever make. We can spend our lives staying safe inside the lines or we can spend our days crossing them to leap out into adventures. You can keep your heart locked up in a heavy suitcase or you can throw caution to the wind, take a chance, and begin with a fearless hello.