A Week of Goodbyes and a Solemn Farewell
The final week in Sydney took me right back to the emotional roller coaster I arrived on. I hd so many mixed emotions, but the most prevalent was my desire to stay in Sydney. The realization that such an amazing adventure has come to its final week hits hard. Suddenly I felt a pressure to hang out with everyone I would miss and fill any free time with adventures I had been wanting to do. Before I knew it my week was filled with hourly meet ups, dates, sleepovers, and dinners. I was determined to savor each and every moment as my week of goodbyes.
Each goodbye was hard. Often awkward being that I just am really bad at saying goodbye and these goodbyes are very likely to be a final goodbye. Saying “see you later” felt like as inappropriate phrase as I waved farewell to each friend.
However, the goodbyes were simultaneously sweet. I felt really loved by the effort by friends to make my last week in Sydney spectacular. On Monday some friends surprised me with a goodbye dinner at an Italian pizzaria where pizza was served by the meter. We shared delicious food, good laughs, and nutella pizza. In the end they gifted me with an giant Australian flag and a card signed by a bunch of the friends I made from the campus ministry.
The rest of the week flew by as I spent time with friends for nearly every moment. At night, when I would reflect back on the day the friends I said goodbye to I would instantly tear up and try to distract myself with Netflix. The last night I spent with close friends at one of their homes in the jacuzzi with moscato and pad thai under the stars. We talked, and talked, and talked through the night. Every now and then someone would say ” I can’t believe you’re leaving”. Neither could I. It just didn’t seem real, and I wasn’t ready!
Don’t get me wrong, there was plenty to look forward to back home. I had a great job to look forward to, friends and family to reunite with, and theatre opportunities that were accumulating. Plus the luxury of unlimited wifi… yet, I still felt like Sydney had my heart and suddenly the news about the heart wrenching social justice issues at home seemed more prevalent. Could’t I stay just a little longer?
Alas, the final day came. My bags were packed. My room all cleared out. I couldn’t believe it was actually my final day in Sydney. I was in the middle of my goodbye notes and gifts for friends at church when Joanna, one of my closest friends I made from IFSA, came into my room crying saying she would miss me with a gift. It became all so real. I was leaving today. I finished my goodbye letters in tears and made my way to my final Sunday service at the Sydney Church of Christ. Everything seemed brighter, stronger, and more beautiful than ever before. It was like my senses were trying to put all the familiar sites into my permanent memory. It was so hard to look anyone in the eye. As soon as I did, my eyes would well up. After the service many of us got a final lunch together at our favorite dumpling spot. I laughed, gave and received gifts, and finally said goodbye for the last time.
With that I headed back to my apartment with a friend, checked out, and headed to the airport prepared for the 20 hour trek home. The last goodbye was the hardest. Saying goodbye to Sydney felt surreal, but as the plane took flight leaving the ground, I gazed out the window leaving the country that stole my heart. All that I could do was store the memories and lessons as I move forward into home and into reality.