I'd arrived the previous afternoon and we should have packed right away but we went to lunch first. It might have made sense to pack after that but it seemed a better idea to lie about on the couch and watch 90's TV shows on Netflix (we did take a break to load four boxes of books into the trailer. Boxes we later took out in order to put the mattress in first) and wait for Cracker. Cracker arrived and we could have started packing in earnest then but we walked to the bar and met up with some friends and played pool and had beers and laughs because it was important we do that, too, before she left. Back at the house we made tacos amidst the packing mess at 10:30 at night and then we were like wow we'd better get some sleep so we crashed in sleeping bags in the living room.
Which found us sleepy and sad at 4AM, finally packing in earnest. "Sassy", I groaned as I tried to roll over and found Wrigley a sleeping deadweight atop my stomach. "It's 4AM. I thought we were getting up at 5:30." "I know," she says, "But I can't sleep and I really want us to be able to go for breakfast before I leave."
So we packed and cleaned and carried boxes through wet grass, and we were damp and cold and sleepy. The sun came up and the rain stopped and it promised to be a glorious spring day.
|Sleep deprived and ill equipped to deal with this much sun just now.|
Wrigley moped about, worried and pitiful, waffling between standing in the way in doorways, sticking to Sassy like glue, and hovering around the trailer to ensure she wasn't left behind.
We went to the coffee house when the packing we had left to do became overwhelming, coffee and oatmeal, conversation tired and thin and melancholic. I was thinking how it was Ryan and Joe who brought us all together and introduced us at boyscout camp last summer, and how now Ryan and Joe are gone and us three patchwork friends find ourselves here together now. Hard to believe Sassy and I have been friends less than a year. We hit it off from the start, this girl who is even more adventurous than me, who brought color and bright ideas to my life, who could laugh with me about things no one else thought were funny.
Has it been only a year?
But what a year.
I remember the first time she took me climbing, and I had a moment of panic clinging to the face of the rock. "I'm going to fall!" I cried out. "OK," she said calmly, on belay, "so fall." And I fell and realized simultaneously oh, the rope and my friend will catch me and I love climbing!
Finally, on a spring morning, we lit sparklers we found laying about from years and years ago, because it seemed a good idea, and then it was time for goodbye-that-wasn't-goodbye (Don't tell me goodbye tomorrow, she'd said while walking downtown the night before, say Boy Voyage or something).
So this is how this feels, I thought when the time came.
I'm never the one left behind.
I'm the one who does the leaving.
Except that once, when my brother moved away for the first time when I was 16. I remember now that it was awful, I remember crying in my camper where I lived that summer at the lake, knowing things would never be the same, feeling, well, feeling left behind.
In the intervening 15 years I've done all the leaving, saying goodbye time and again to friends and family, moving away, making new friends, eventually saying goodbye to them too and moving back. Being sad but looking forward to my adventure.
Not so now.
I hugged Sassy goodbye, that brave girl who knows what she wants and how she's going to go about getting it, the girl with that irrepressible giggle I love. I bravely held tears at bay, the way my Mom always did when I left, said not nearly everything I suddenly thought I should say because if I said it all I knew I wouldn't hold it together. And tears weren't allowed anymore than saying the word "goodbye" was. Love you. Be safe. See you in a few months.
Hugged and kissed Wrigley, who was immensely relieved to finally be invited to jump up into the passenger seat and who wasn't much interested in goodbye. Live in the moment.
She was too tired to make the drive, really, Sassy, but there she goes. She's smart and capable, and she'll be OK. Even if something goes amiss, she'll figure it out.
So she drove away and me and the boys said with great bravado "Well, now that that baggage is gone, the real party can start! Let's break out the real fireworks! Huzzah!"
And then we were quiet as we held cups of coffee already cold, looking at the wet grass, and then someone said "So." and we chatted about the weather for a while.
And then I got into my car, turned on NPR (all the good programs play on the weekend), and as Sassy drove West - west towards Utah (land I love though I have yet to set foot on that barren soil), the wild west, toward where the sun sets, west to her big adventure - I turned east, toward Rapid, to another week, to my beautiful life I love even as my soul is torn in its yearning for adventure.
A little color seeps from my life the farther west she goes.
She sent me a picture of her passenger seat.
And I sent her a picture of mine.
|Hot chocolate she bequeathed me and climbing shoes I'd always left at her house because she was always my climbing buddy.|
I silently sent word up to that Guy in the Sky: God, I know she and I don't have the same point of view in regards to You, but keep an eye on her, would you? Look out for my friend?
And that was that.
And I don't even have an apropos ending.
I'm proud of her and excited for her and her adventure.
But she's gone and I'm sad.