Bittersweet goodbyes

I’m sitting in my bed, computer balanced on my stomach as my fingers rest awkwardly on the keyboard while I type – a consequence of the angle at which my laptop currently sits. I don’t move it, though, because just beyond my computer lays my dog, snuggled in between my legs, snoozing happily. He has been driving me bananas since I got home – every time I sit down to work on this blog post or my website or do pretty much anything on my laptop, he is in my lap, right where I want my trusty MacBook to be.


I remind myself not to get angry with him, though, and to appreciate the enormous love pulsing through his little doggo body because I’m only home temporarily. (And honestly, how could I say 'no' to that face?) Our time together is limited before I have to say goodbye as I depart for my final destination: New York City. I’m thrilled to start my adventures in NYC, but I already dread saying goodbye to my pupper, along with my family, dear friends, and two feline fur-babies that I get to see while I’m here.


Goodbyes are tough. It’s been exactly seven days since I left SF for good, and I’m still reflecting on my final weeks there. I said goodbye to my beloved friends and communities, and I left with warm feelings overflowing in my heart: satisfaction with the goodbyes I had made, love from the friends who showed up for me during the last few weeks, support as I embarked on this new journey, excitement for the road ahead.

However, I am also left with some thoughts and feelings that I could not adequately express before I left; it wasn’t until after my departure that I could put my thoughts into words and offer a more holistic reflection on the experience of ending my time in San Francisco. I started typing some thoughts on my phone at the airport, which turned into a letter for all those I had hugged goodbye.


I thought that letter would simply serve as an emotional catharsis on a stressful day – that it would never be seen by anyone else. But after I wrote it, I realized that it deserves to be shared and read. I started this blog to share my story – my real, vulnerable story – and this letter is a part of it.


I offer this note to all of my readers, but especially those who have been a part of my journey in San Francisco. Moving brings up a multitude of seemingly conflicting emotions, but what I feel most clearly is the immense love, joy, and gratitude I have for each and every one of those who loved me so well while I was there. I dedicate the following to you:


January 31, 2020


I felt stress: Stress from packing. Stress from finances. Stress from planning.


I felt excitement: Excitement for running at full speed into the next chapter. Into the next level. Into my dreams.


I felt relief: Relief from leaving an area that has filled me, at times, with such sadness and hopelessness. Relief from leaving painful relationships behind.


I felt love: Love for all the people who have poured into me and supported me and offered their friendship freely.


But I didn’t feel sadness.


I don’t know why. I thought that I should feel it, but I didn’t.


Not while I was saying goodbye.

Not while I was leaving my church for the last time.

Not when I had my last therapy session.

Not while I was packing my apartment.

Not on my last day in SF.

Not on my way to the airport.

Not even on my first flight out of SF.


But then, I did.


On my connecting flight to Columbus, I finally felt the sadness and utter reality of what I was doing.


The moment that plane started moving, I felt it, deep in my heart: I am leaving SF. I am leaving a community of incredible people for an opportunity as foggy as the skyline of SF the morning I bid my final farewell.


I know in my core I’ve made the right choice. But I'm still terrified, and damn, it’s hard to leave because it means that I have to say goodbye to people who mean the world to me.


You are the anchors that have kept me grounded when I felt wholly untethered. You are the community that instilled in me a sense of belonging when others in my life tried to push me out. You are the open ears that have listened to me when I’ve experienced deep pain and the open arms that have embraced me when I needed comfort. You are the eyes who have seen the light in me when I couldn’t see it for myself. You are the people who have seen me for who I am and still love me anyways. You are the cherished relationships I leave behind – and that is what makes this move the most excruciating.


So here I sit, on Southwest flight 247, small tears dancing down my cheeks, knowing how perfectly okay it is that I feel exactly the way that I do, and able to comfort myself because I stored up so much love over the last 3 weeks.


You are the community that stands behind me.


You are the people who have offered such unbelievable love and support.


You are the reason I’m able to do this in the first place.


And I will absolutely never forget that.


With love always,

Kate




(Cover image photo credit: Anton Shuvalov from Unsplash)

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