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MY LIFE AS A NOMAD: Why Goodbye Can Be Hard

It was one week after my graduation, when I woke up early, and took the first train that would take me away from Boston’s noise, its entire people and the daily routines of life that I was accustomed to.


I was alone on the train and had no idea where I was going, but I stopped at a random stop and found a small coffee shop tucked away in the middle of nowhere. I sat the whole day in there with nothing but just a little small backpack and everything on my mind. What I needed was silence, and at that moment, it was the most beautiful sound.

In less than a month, I would be starting my first job at my dream firm in an entirely new city, and after more than two decades of exams, lectures, tutorials, assignments, I was finally free. Though the new road ahead was seductive, serendipitous, and absolutely liberating, I could not help but to feel sad for I would be leaving some of my fellow classmates that had seen me growing from the awkwardness of puberty to living with daily struggles living with societal stereotypes.

The one thing I have learned is that leaving a place you have lived and loved, and where all your yesteryears are buried deep, leave it the fastest way you can. This is because I hated farewells as somehow deep inside me I knew that things would never be the same again and I would never have the chance to live those moments again. Goodbyes may be one of the hardest thing about life but, one way or another people always move on and I have accepted that to be a facet of my life; hence, I always choose to leave quietly.

It has been fifteen years since that quiet day in that random small coffee shop, a week after I tossed my graduation cap high into the air, and I have quietly moved many more times since. I was aware of the danger of moving towards the new horizons and losing what I had then. Eventually, I may not be left with anything except loneliness, but somehow circumstances made me move even if it was not by choice.

The sad thing in life is that sometimes you meet someone or a bunch of cool people who mean a lot to you but only to find out in the end that it was never bound to be and you just have to let go. I cut my roots, left my home and family when I was only ten years old.  I am always leaving never arriving. I have loved and lost, and I have regrets, and no matter how many times I start over, and achieve success or failure, the people, friends, family, lovers, strangers, and even cars – these people (or things) will forever occupy a fragment of my memory.  Regardless of how long someone has been a part of our lives, whether it’s a few minutes, years or even decades, their impact will always remain with us – even after we utter that simple, yet hard to say, two-syllable word.

As I approach the inevitable 40, I could not even dare to imagine how many more goodbyes I will be saying but one thing is that I find it harder to settle into a new life and put a closure to my previous chapter as I grow older.  I really need to arrive soon at my destination wherever it might be and ironically, home is a place we grow up wanting to leave, and grow old wanting to get back to, and such is my case. After close to four decades of living overseas, I am finally back to where it all started, but the chapters do not end here as my journey is still long from over. I will continue to expose myself to amazing and invaluable experiences I often take for granted and share those experiences along the way with people that I meet along the way. I will continue to love and cry, to take risk and persevere as best as I can, hoping that one day when I have the chance to look back and reflect on the journey I have taken, I can feel that I have lived a life worth living.

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