The things we leave behind

I feel like I have this awful habit of coming and going. Saying yes and then saying no. Changing my mind. Staying and leaving. Crying and smiling. Screaming and saying nothing at all. I’m pretty sure it drives the people around me insane. “I never want to speak to him again” I tell my best friend on the phone. She simply sighed. And when I came back the next day saying I was meeting him later that day, she wasn’t exactly surprised. “It’s just what you do”, my Mum told me once. “Maybe you aren’t made to sit still”.

It’s funny; everytime I change my mind I only really think about my own future. My own perspective on the things that lay ahead. On the new experiences and new people and the way my choice would affect me. Me. Me. Me. It never really occurred to me that the people I left would somehow be left trying to fill the gaps I used to fit in to so effortlessly.

Not that I’ve ever left anywhere. I still live where I have for the past 18 years. But I as a person has changed. I’ve cut people out and changed friends a million times over. I smile at everyone as I walk by but there’s only a handful of people who know me. And some of those people I don’t speak to anymore.

“I miss you”, my ex best friend had once texted me after we had stopped speaking for a few months. “I know I never say it and I should have said sorry a million times but I was scared, but I’m drunk right now and I really miss you and I love you”. At the time it made my eyes fill with tears, it seemed cute and endearing but also kind of weird. She was never really one for emotions; not until she met him of course. The next day life carried on as normal and once again we didn’t speak and I tried not to call her the next time I was upset. “Why couldn’t you ever just let me all the way in? Why did you have to cut me out?” I wanted to scream down the phone at her. But I couldn’t, that part of me was left behind in 2017 I guess.

I think about things I wish I had said a lot. Maybe it’s because I used to be queen of leaving people and never speaking to them again but now the tables have turned. Instead of being the one to mess people around, I’m the one being left and watching people go. But I guess that’s just part of growing up. We all have to leave at some point. The older  I get, the more goodbyes I have to say and somehow it never gets easier. My Mum still pokes fun at me for how easily I cry when someone moves away. “You act like the world is ending” she told me once.

And in a way, it is. My friends are scattered across the world, creating new lives in new places, while I’m stuck on the old ones. Stayed behind a year to improve my grades and thought nothing would change. Guess I never really stood a chance, did I? I go on runs where we used to hang out and talk and I walk through the village you used to call Home too. And my heart aches. And I listen to our favourite songs but I don’t have anyone to listen to them with anymore. I find mementos of our friendship scattered around my room- the book of quotes, the photobook, the candles, the ornaments, the clothes. Reminders everywhere of everything that once was, of everything that has changed. The world as I knew it has ended, and I’m adapting, even after months I’m still adapting. And still, in March, I can’t help but notice the little pockets of emptiness people leave in their wake.

We all leave part of us everywhere we go. Part of us in our friends, our families, our loves and the places we go. We leave behind memories and routines and objects but there’s also an essence I can’t describe. It’s when you smell someone’s perfume and recognise it instantly; it’s when you hear a song and it hits you square in the chest. It’s when you’re sitting there doing homework and you have the urge to text someone, “I miss you” even though you can’t put your finger on why. It’s wondering how someone is doing when you don’t have the means to ask them and telling stories about people you haven’t spoke to in months and hoping, deep down, that maybe they’re thinking about you too.

Perhaps we will spend our whole lives sifting through all the things people leave behind. Searching for that moment you can slightly remember but you want the whole story. Looking for that song you listened to together when you were 15. Wondering where those videos are that you made dancing around your childhood bedrooms. Adopting their morning routine that you used to copy on sleepovers. Trying to piece your life back together with old people, new people, forever feelings, different opinions. Holding all of it together when there’s still a gaping hole in your side from those people who left. From the feelings you don’t have anymore. From the love you don’t feel anymore. From the memories you’ve lost, the routines you don’t have anymore, the possessions you used to love but just can’t find.

I think that’s the worst part. That some things we search and search for and still can’t find. And others we lose without a second thought. The last time we spoke to someone. The last time we played out with our best friends as a child. The last time we wore our favourite outfit at that time. The last time we told that person we loved them. Some things we can lose without staying up at night pining for. That we can never give a second thought about and not even care at all. But others we can wonder about forever. It’s those things that we leave behind, that others leave behind. Those are the things that hurt the most.

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