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The beauty in saying goodbye, and looking forward

The beauty in saying goodbye, and looking forward

I’ve never been one for goodbyes. In social situations, I’m notorious for pulling a Cinderella and simply disappearing into the night without a word. Whether I’m dead sober or sloppy drunk, I just hate going through the social protocol and saying a proper goodbye. I’d rather skip the awkward hug and excuses, and leave.

Sunset at St Kilda beach, Melbourne, Australia

The thing about long-term travel is that you’re forced to say a lot of goodbyes: goodbye to family and best friends and everything that is home, and then, goodbye to a new city and new friends and another incredible experience.

Arriving in Melbourne (and Nice), wide-eyed and overwhelmed, I poured my heart into making it my home. Happy hours with coworkers, making dinner with my flatmate, exchanging phone numbers and funny stories and rounds of drinks until I finally felt like I had supportive, interesting and incredibly fun group of friends.

And now it’s another last day at work, a going-away dinner, another round of going-away drinks. Repeat my future plans about 86 times and promise to come back one day (everyone swears that Melbourne suits me and that I’ll be back). Smile because I’m surrounded by so many freaking awesome people, laugh at a memory of a crazy night out—and then, suddenly, I’m holding back tears, only to go home and sob and ask myself a million unanswerable questions. Is this the right choice? If I’m this sad to say goodbye, why, exactly am I leaving?

Six months might be about as long as my attention span lasts, but it also ensures I’m leaving on a high. I still haven’t gone to every restaurant or bar that I wanted to try. I won’t be enjoying a St Kilda summer—the best time of year in this beachy suburb, as everyone is keen to remind me. I’ve finally established a routine that works, friendships that feel real—and I’m leaving.

Leaving now ensures that Melbourne will always be framed with a fuzzy golden hue, a permanent Instagram effect. I’m not leaving because I’ve gotten bored, or even because I’m truly ready for something else. In a weird sort of way, though, leaving can validate you. When people are sad to see you go, it tells you that you’re doing something right. You are living a life that people want to be a part of.

St Kilda Pier on a cloudy day, Melbourne, Australia

As I hugged goodbye this morning to the family who runs the café where I drink a pre-work latte every morning, the beautiful Greek owner told me to carry myself. Carry myself—those were the best farewell words I’ve ever received.

I’ll walk on the plane next week, and if nothing else, I’ll carry myself. Head high, eyes open: incredibly grateful for another experience that created difficult goodbyes and looking straight forward to the next adventure.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve become quite accustomed to saying good-bye. Not because I’m moving anywhere so quickly but everyone around me seems to be. I think I’ll always deal with that to a degree as an expat. I try not to be bitter about it, even though it can be wearing. The thrill of starting new is wonderful. Safe travels Christine! 

  • Awesome post Christine and (obviously) I totally get where you’re coming from.

    Goodbyes suck, and they always will do.  As you say though, it’s when you find out that you’ve made an impact, that you matter to people.  That they genuinely care about you.

    See you in Thailand… *hugs*

  • 100miles Highway

    Goodbyes can be tiring and wear you out – but i do agree with you on leaving before the image of the place blurs… i like the way you compared it to an instagram – that’s so true! Hope you have safe travels and am looking forward to reading about your next adventure!

  • Very eloquently stated, as always. Goodbyes are tough, but what lies ahead makes it all worth it. Best of luck to you, Christine! Looking forward to seeing where in the world you’ll go next 🙂

  • It feels like I’ve been saying goodbyes since 1994 when I left Vancouver; since 2001 when I left Toronto; since 2003 when I left Heidelberg, Germany; since 2006 when I left Minneapolis; and the same will be said when I leave Chile in a few weeks’ time.  The interesting thing is I’ve been able to go back and say hellos, and to say them again to those who’ve scattered across the globe.

    Thanks for your post, Christine, and best wishes to you on the next step in your journey!

  • Becky

    I love this: “In a weird sort of way, though, leaving can validate you. When people are sad to see you go, it tells you that you’re doing something right. You are living a life that people want to be a part of.” Very well put, Christine. This just brought tears to my eyes! Cheers to your adventures and best wishes for what’s to come!

  • This is so beautifully written, Christine. You really do have a way with words.

    I like so many of the things you said here. But the idea of leaving on a high, leaving Melbourne with that “permanent Instagram effect,” really resonates with me. That’s how I feel I left Wellington 3 years ago.

    And though another goodbye is tough, I’m still really looking forward to following you along on your next adventure!

  • Great post! I love how everything is so well said. In the spring, I will be on my next adventure of moving to California with my boyfriend and this whole post sums up my feelings. I’m excited to follow  your blog to see where you end up next! Good luck 🙂

  • Anonymous

    Beautiful beautiful post Christine! I agree with everything you said and you’re right – leaving on a high is better than waiting for the city’s luster to wane. You can always go back if it’s what you want! And you’ll always be welcomed with open arms. 

  • Wonderful post! I agree with everything you’ve said. Saying goodbye is always the hardest part, but I like your outlook. Leaving on a high note. I’ll have to remind myself of that a lot over the next few months. And years probably. Good luck on your next adventure!

  • Beautifully written Christine. I love how you are leaving before you become jaded with Melbourne and your life there. I know I stayed in London a little too long and so left with out a instagram effect. 

    I am so used to goodbyes now but it still doesn’t get any easier.. I prefer to just say see ya later!
    where are you off to next?

  • Anonymous

    I definitely think that just being a traveler or expat sets you up for a lot more goodbyes by introducing to more adventurous although transient people. At least you’ll always have a couch to sleep on around the world!

  • Anonymous

    Thanks, Dave! Definitely know you can relate–surely we’ll chat more about it in Thailand 🙂

  • Anonymous

    Glad you were able to relate! Who knows, maybe I’ll end up in London while you’re still there 😉

  • Anonymous

    Gracias, Christine! Still need to give Spain another chance…maybe you’ll still be there when I do!

  • Anonymous

    Totally agree on being able to say hello again! I’ve been incredibly lucky to meet up with plenty of people across the globe who I never thought I would run into again–glory of Facebook and good timing!

  • Anonymous

    Thank you! Plenty more adventures to come 🙂

  • Anonymous

    Thanks, Amanda! I have the same Instagram effect with Wellington–four days wasn’t nearly long enough 🙂

  • Anonymous

    Ahhh California! That’s my home state–will have to let me know how much you love it 🙂

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the lovely words, Lindsey–certainly hope that one day Paris will welcome me back 🙂

  • Anonymous

    Thank you! It’s often more difficult to leave on a high note, but I do think it works out better in the long run 🙂

  • Anonymous

    I’m definitely a big fan of the “see you later”–you never know where in the world you might see someone again!

    First up is Cairns, then Thanksgiving in Hawaii with the family, then a nice big trip through Adelaide to Perth–and then a one-way ticket to Bali on NYE! No plans past then as of now 🙂

  • Goodbyes can be so difficult – I know I prefer to slip out unnoticed. It sounds like you have amazing friends and a wonderful place to call home in Melbourne should you ever feel like returning. Can’t wait to read about your future plans! 😀

  • I’ve never really thought about goodbyes that much.  I guess it’s just part of life that I never thought about the process of it.  The  times that I left, I was ready to go with no regrets.  Sure, I’ve had a few times where I had to say goodbye and it was tough.  However, I thought of it as relationships that were changing rather than a process itself.  I guess I’ve never had anything personal with the goodbye process. 

    After all, it’s not “goodbye’s” fault that I choose to change my life and relationships 🙂

  • Extremely excited for you. Another great chapter to be written in your life!

  • As always, beautifully written post, Christine. I hope you have a nice time flying all over the Pacific until NYE 🙂

  • I love this post. Goodbyes aren’t always easy, but saying goodbye to one thing means saying hello to something new. Best wishes for wherever the road takes you.

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  • Wow, you truly are a great writer. Your ability to tell a story through words is rivaled by very few writers that I follow.

    Everything happens for a reason. Even if you don’t know the reason now, it will become clear later..

  • I’m sad that you’re leaving Melbourne, Christine! It is the first stop on my RTW trip; I will be there next March-June and was looking forward to the prospect of meeting up with a fellow American for some of that great Aussie coffee that you’ve got me craving! Good luck on the next leg of your ongoing journey…you’re a fantastic writer and I can’t wait to read more!

  • I can’t believe it’s time for you to leave already!  As I’ve read about your time in Melbs it sounds like you really made it a home and you’re right — that can take WORK! I’m so glad you enjoyed your time there and you’re leaving on a high note…nothing better.

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  • Beautifully written post Christine! 

    I have yet to reach the life here in Sydney that you have in Melbourne but I’m slowly making friends and finding a place to call home. I hate goodbyes, and it’s often why I put off even the littlest things like leaving a job that isn’t taking me anywhere (or that I’m not enjoying the work at). 

    I remember how weird it was the first time I had to start saying goodbye to my Aussie friends, everything was so surreal, and I couldn’t believe that what I’d created wouldn’t be my life anymore. 

    I think that you have so many new adventures to come that you’ll enjoy but that never means that you’ll lose the experience, the relationships or the memories. That fact is something that you can take comfort in. 

  • Anonymous

    Very true–missing Melbourne already but know that I can always return if I want to 🙂

  • Anonymous

    I guess I always leave on such a high note–I’m usually never “ready” to leave a place, but I’m always looking forward to the next adventure. Although it’s usually “see you later” not goodbye with good friends 🙂

  • Anonymous

    Thank you! I’m certainly looking forward to some new adventures 🙂

  • Anonymous

    Thanks, Marie! Shall surely be a nice change of pace 🙂

  • Anonymous

    Very true! I always like to think that as long as I have super cool adventures planned, the goodbyes won’t be nearly as hard 🙂

  • Anonymous

    Thank you–kind words! That’s what my mom always likes to tell me when things don’t go my way, and it’s so true 🙂

  • Anonymous

    Can certainly give you plenty of tips for Melbs, don’t you worry! Absolutely love that city–and there are still plenty of incredible people to meet!

  • Anonymous

    Thank you! Just left today and I’m uber sad, but looking forward to the next adventure 🙂

  • Anonymous

    Thanks, Annie! It takes some time, but the memories make it all worth it 🙂

  • Miguel Cancino

    I don’t like when you leave cities that I’m in…

  • Anonymous

    That’s only happened once!

  • To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to
    experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position
    in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.

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  • This is probably my favorite post you’ve ever written. I can totally relate to leaving a good place (Shanghai then Singapore) even when you’re not bored or truly ready to move on to something new. It’s hard, but as you said, it’s nice to leave on a high.

  • camorose

    Awww thanks, Edna! I think the worst part is that I’m always tempted to go back, but I’m really not sure if I’d be able to beat my initial experience the second time around.