on leaving and saying goodbye (or ‘a jazz funeral’)

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This is the beginning, and this is the end.

We have our makeup done fancy, and the champagne feels like a light is turned on behind my eyes. There are twinkle lights in the trees, and every few minutes I hear a different laugh rise just a little above the murmur of conversation. We scream in excitement, and hug so tightly we spin. I’m not sure if we’re saying hello or goodbye. A wedding, an engagement party, and the truth between us that it cannot be this way much longer. I never relished this year of my life. But it’s over, and I’m realizing how little of it I knew. And there are new houses and new jewelry and suitcases full of clothes, and whether I’m ready or not, it’s over.

If we have to say goodbye.

It may be ending. It may be changing. The buzz wears off as the crowd starts to thin, and the inside of the car is stale and empty. Even if it’s just a party, it has to end. And I will miss the apartment in the sketchy alley and the Netflix nights with just the three of us. I will miss weekends on Rebecca’s couch. And having a little refuge in Waco. It’s different, not having a place you would rather be.

But if we have to say goodbye. If this has to be the last time we walk like this, chatty and conversational through midtown in bare feet, then let’s let it trail into a flourish. Let’s walk like we grew up here, and like we’re never going anywhere else. As Chris would say, let’s make a jazz funeral of it and march beside the casket with music and dancing. Let’s plug the lights in one more time, and laugh at the joke that hasn’t been funny since September (when nothing else was funny). Let’s send these last moments out with a shout and a song (and it might even remind us of Harry Potter and giggling on Audrey’s couch).

And everything will change, and we will let it. We will let the adrenaline and love and fierce goodbyes keep us going until we’re strong enough to stand on our own. Because this is the end, but it’s also the beginning.

And while we’re at it, let’s say the goodbyes. Let’s let go of the nights we cried until our eyes were swollen. Let’s leave behind the apathy and nights of lonely stupor. Let’s let the bitterness and anger go. Let’s say goodbye to them, and let’s *mean* it. If we have to say goodbye, let’s peel off the dragon skin all at once, and fall into tomorrow raw but new and ready to be made again. Let’s laugh and cry and remind ourselves that the morning is new.

And in a few months, let’s come back. Come back here and dance and walk around the city like you never left. Let’s pour another glass and toast to all the things that make us new, and all the ones that bring us home. Let’s come back here, when it will be another end and another beginning. And it’s funny, but when you read the Bible and you finally, finally make it to the end you expect to see the end spiraling out of control. You expect death and tears.

But it ends in a wedding. And a promise of return.

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