Friday, March 9, 2012

The Hard Part

I have been lazy. I don't think I wrote more than 500 words for the past week. So I apologize for the lack of posts. This was written over a week ago, but it sounded too lame so I didn't post it. Now, desperate for material, and finding what I wrote before is even more pertinent, I'm posting. Cheers.

Kristen was an intern with me in Thailand and we were
birthday buddies back when my name was Hlaine.
Clinically, things like goodbyes make perfect sense to me. You put your arms around someone and squeeze. You wave; you walk away. Real life, however, is anything but clinical, and instead of enjoying what ought to be as easy as breathing I spend goodbyes puttering about in embarrassment and introspection. Why aren’t I crying? Can I find a different way to say “I’ll miss you” so they’ll remember me? Which one of us will forget to write first? Meanwhile, everyone else seems to get on with things as naturally as breathing.

The only things I do as naturally as breathing—mostly involving a violin, soccer ball, or Microsoft Word 2007—have exactly one common denominator: excessive, excessive practice. “Practice makes perfect” after all.

Lainy went home yesterday. :(
Though perfection remains unattained, I’m getting better at goodbyes. But in other ways, they’re getting harder and harder.

I have this theory about friendships. I think that each person at any given time is able to sustain only a certain number of friendships. There’s a limit, in other words, to the amount of friends you can give the amount of love and attention a true friend deserves. You know the feeling when you are trying to maintain too many—thin, sort of stretched, like too little butter scraped over too much bread. (couldn’t help it) There are all sorts of factors, of course, that might indicate how many friendships you can handle at a given point: mental and emotional health, stress levels, family matters, and distance.

For me, distance is the killer. Distance and goodbyes are closely linked somewhere in my heart or stomach. I can’t tell which since they both get a little queasy when I think about hugging my parents at the airport or bawling on the ride to church after leaving Hilary behind.

I suppose goodbyes are the most obvious opportunity cost of traveling, but it’s only through all this practice that I’m now realizing it. My parents, both middle school orchestra teachers, insist that practice does not make perfect, but rather permanent. When talking about f sharps and b flats that slice of wisdom is a whole lot easier to swallow than when goodbyes are involved.

Let me tell you.
I’m getting a little sick of writing posts like this (and you’re probably more sick of reading them). I want to have all the answers so I can write one of those sweet essays that wrap up nicely at the end, neatly and subtly pointing back to all the foreshadowing carefully placed in earlier paragraphs because the author already had things figured out from the get-go. Maybe one day, when practice has made too many goodbyes permanent that will be the case.

In the meantime, I could use your prayers. I don’t know what the next couple of years are going to hold. There’s a few paths laying themselves out in front of me, and (once more) God seems to be shrugging, smiling, and (thankfully) holding onto all the cards. I do wish he weren’t so ineffable...

“We have great staff here—from
the professors to the genitals and
everyone! They’re very sweet ladies.”

In an effort to make this post sound less
sappy, I offer exhibit A from The Perks
of Being an ESL Teacher in the form of
a student quote of the day. I think he meant "janitors."


  1. Will you be spending the next year in Korea as well?

    1. I don't know. :/ it's so hard to choose where to be...

    2. Tell me about it. Still ruminating over the question of Korea myself. Will let you know soon.

  2. The lighter moments provided by the unsuspecting students are like a gift from angels. ;}