I have been in this position before. The moments before leaving, before moving on. And so you see, I’ve learned a few things. I have not spent much time reflecting this summer, as Panama once again gave and took from me and I will not spend much time doing so now, in this wooden chair, at this wooden table, in this beautiful place people pretend to call home.
Here is what I have to say:
There is an art to leaving things behind.
First one must note that when you leave a place, no matter the fashion, no matter for the period of time, you take things with you. Clothes, books, shoes, gifts, leftover money, scraps of paper you’ve collected along the way, mosquito bites, bruises, memories. Conversations unfold about how it will all fit into your suitcase, who will bring what but what people rarely discuss is what must be left behind.
And that is why it is an art because not everyone can do it well.
Because you see, in order for it all to fit, in order to move on, to move forward, things have to be left behind.
And leaving things behind hurts. I will not deny that. When Palani shut the door to staff house one last time, it hurt to leave things inside.
The long sleeved blue button up i got from my nana at my college graduation as a hand me down and never wore. The kahkis my mom gave me amongst the packing frenzy that sat on a chair on summer. Those things are easy to leave. They hold no memories. They were never mine but they took up space in my mind. You go back and forth, questioning whether or not they should be taken with, if the space they’ll take up is worth what they’ll give.
The water bottle that has grown moldy that I carried around all summer at Lake Lucerne, that summer my heart broke straight in two.
My brown hiking boots i wore every day this summer, the ones i got from St. Vinnies that winter day, the ones that carried me up and over mountains and never let me down, even when i fell.
The basketball shorts i bought for a dollar when I couldn’t stand to be so hot at night for a moment more.
The book I read while waiting for the chiva for an hour, two hours, three hours, forever.
The blue pants I bought that day in Winston when I was looking forward to it all being over. They’re the ones i wore at FiestAmbiente, the ones i cut the night in Evedlia’s house because they were too long.
Fatima the fan, the joke that bonded us.
Staff house, home.
Caimito and Tavidal Arriba. San Miguel Arriba and Chiguiri Arriba.
Nori, Chelsea, Ariana, Palani, Shauna, Letty, Natalia.
You see there’s an art to leaving things behind.
Some things you leave because they were never yours, because you never used them and you never will.
Some, you leave because despite the memories they hold, they’re broken. They no longer serve their purpose. They must be left behind or they’ll weigh you down.
Others, like places, you leave simply because you can no longer stay.
And then there’s people who you don’t leave even when you do-because now in some way, forever, you belong to each other even if that forever is never again the same. That’s why turning away from them on the street after saying goodbye is possible, because you know it’s not completely over, even when it is.