…it’s “see you later.”
This is what I wrote to one of my best friends/surrogate brother/roommate Chad as he moved out this week and is now basking on the sunny shores of California; L.A. to be specific.
I have known Chad my entire life. I’m not kidding–his mother used to babysit me when I was six months old.
(I’m the one in the pink, by the by…)
For thirty years, Chad has been a constant in my life. We grew up together, attended school together, and have been roommates twice. Chad moved in during the beginnings of the decline of my marriage and was a huge support to me during the demise of it. Having him around was a comfort to me because he’s more than just a friend, he’s family to me. I’d call him “the brother I never had,” but I have a brother, so that’s silly.
Chad has always wanted to live in Los Angeles and has talked about it for years and years.
“I’m going to move to LA,” he’d say.
“Yeah, okay Chad, you do that,” I’d say, tossing his comment aside. I never really thought he’d go. But he did.
Even after he quit his job a few weeks ago and began making plans to move, I still kind of thought, “yeah, okay Chad…” but this week, watching him begin packing up his belongings, it finally began to sink in: he’s leaving. He’s leaving me.
I admit to being selfish and wanting him to stay. I was trying to concoct crazy schemes to get him to stay: faking an illness; calling him and pretending to be the state of California saying, “sorry dude, we’re full. We’ll keep your application on file and consider you in the future.” Hiding his car keys to keep him from going anywhere…I was desperate to keep him here.
But I had to keep reminding myself that it’s not about me and this is what he needs to do.
So, he went.
I drove him to the airport with Corey, our other roommate, yesterday and that was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do in my life so far. We packed up his bags into the trunk of my car and as the three of us were driving to Omaha, I had the fleeting thought of not taking him, of driving somewhere else, but he was so excited and ready to go, that I couldn’t keep him from that.
We stood awkwardly in the terminal for a few minutes, unsure of what to say to each other, but after shedding a few tears and hugging him tightly for a few minutes, Chad began walking down the terminal and I was struck by how much I felt like a parent sending my child off to live on their own for the first time. I broke down in the airport and tried to hug Corey, but knowing Corey and his distaste for public displays of emotion, quickly made my way to the bathroom where I shut myself into a stall and cried for a minute. I composed myself as best as I could, splashed some water on my face, chastised myself a bit for being such a baby, and walked out.
The ride back to Lincoln with Corey was mostly silent. We sat and listened to sad songs playing loudly over my car’s sound system and I chain smoked. Then the Peter Gabriel song “I Grieve” started up and I began singing along, tears flowing down my cheeks and my eyes blurry from the tears.
If you’re unfamiliar with the lyrics, here’s a sample:
“It was only one hour ago, it was all so different then. There’s nothing yet has really sunk in, looks like it always did. This flesh and bone, it’s just the way that you would tied in. Now there’s no-one home…
I grieve for you. You leave me. So hard to move on, still loving what’s gone. They say life carries on, carries on and on and on and on…”
See why I was crying? Good lord!
I couldn’t get the whole day off work, so I ended up going in at 1pm, and honestly, I’m grateful for that because it kind of took my mind off of things. I didn’t want to leave when my shift was over, though. I was going home to an empty house.
This sounds kind of silly, but I equated Chad’s leaving to when my husband moved out. While I love Chad with my whole heart, it was a bit…difficult at times. Why? Chad and my ex-husband are similar in many ways and there would be times where I felt like I was still married, which was odd. So to have Chad leave was like being left by my husband all over again. The bittersweetness of knowing this person needs to go, yet not wanting them to is a feeling I would prefer to never have to go through again, but I realize that’s probably not the case.
Anyway, going home that night wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be, but still rough. I stood in the living room at the base of the stairs going up to his bedroom and cried again. I took a shower and cried some more. I laid in bed watching a movie and cried.
Then, I got a text from Chad with a picture of the LA skyline.
“Welcome to LA, Chad! Okay, you can come home now,” I replied.
“I can’t. I loved it the minute I stepped off the plane…” was his response.
And in that moment, I felt better about him leaving. Those few words eased my mind about him leaving. He’s right; he can’t come back to a life that he wasn’t happy living. Sure, his friends and family are here, but Chad belongs where he’s going to thrive and flourish and is able to make his life what he wants it to be. Getting that message from him was just what I needed to hear.
When I woke up Saturday morning, I was okay with him not being around. Sure, I still miss him. I’ll miss him stomping up and down the stairs to his room, even though that used to drive me absolutely nuts at the time; I’ll miss him knocking on my bedroom door and poking his head in to talk with me. I’ll miss him for a lot of reasons, but it’s made easier knowing he’s happier.
Today, I took over his room. I hauled up all my books, dvd’s, flat screen television and desk from my room and am now writing in what used to be his room. I joked earlier that this proves I’ll be a great parent because once my kid is out of the house, I’m taking over their bedroom and turn it into an office. Ha.
It’s comforting to be up here, as some of his things are still in the room.
To my friend and brother, Chad: I love you, I miss you, but this isn’t goodbye, it’s see you later.