All good things must come to an end. As a two-month stay in sunny Brisbane approaches this point, no feeling is more poignant.
Yet as I say farewell at the airport, amidst the bustle of hurried passengers and smell of recycled air, the scene doesn’t stand out. Rather, it melds seamlessly into the ocean of goodbyes that have marked this past decade.
My first goodbye went to my mother, as she returned to China to join my father in 2010. A sheltered 15-year-old stepped into the world alone for the first time, in a country so familiar yet so foreign. The first, as always, was the most difficult. But the gravity of imminent loss has failed to dampen over the years.
I can recall vividly the tears on my grandma’s cheeks as she meekly waved goodbye to my car in Beijing, shortly before her sudden passing. Little did I know then that our final memory would be her fragile silhouette painted against the snowy backdrop of a Suzhou-style complex.
I remember the tingling sensation coursing through my chest during the many take-offs from Brisbane airport. Always toward a foreign destination, taking on the world alone.
As I descend the steps of the Hong Kong departure hall, I feel stronger than ever the weight of a long-distance relationship, the strain it‘s placed on us both, and the love expended to support it.
Today, the distinct sensations of airports - in Beijing, Hong Kong, Brisbane and London are etched in my memory as the fragments of a solitary existence. Yet these same emotions are catalysts for others - a longing to settle, hope for the future and appreciation of all the moments in between. The transient nature of each chapter elevates the intensity of each interaction.
While I am prone to viewing the world through a prism of objective facts, tangible arguments, and biological incentives, I am also beginning to grasp the importance of happiness without agenda, through the most mundane activities with the most important people.
It’s with this pursuit that I enter 2020. So that I can pause to appreciate the world as it is rather than what it may become. So that I can connect with those around me on a deeper level. So that one day, we may say goodnight and not goodbye.