Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Saying Goodbye

It's been a long, long time coming but it's finally here. My last night in Bend.

I've been here 22 years. While I've spent the majority of that time wishing to be somewhere else, this has been my home. For better or worse. Twenty two years is a lifetime. I got married, had a baby, got divorced, I've had other important relationships, friendships. I've had jobs, said a temporary goodbye to some and permanent goodbyes to others. I moved here the day after I graduated from college so, basically, I've grown up here. Ups, downs. Happiness, heartbreak. It's hard to quantify that many experiences.

Since making final plans to leave three weeks ago, it's been the proverbial roller coaster of emotions. In one day I literally jumped up and down for joy and then broke down in tears approximately 7.8 minutes later. Last week I had the what-the-fuck-am-I-doing meltdown. As in, this is a mistake and I should stay Here because This is what I know. But what we know isn't necessarily good for us and by the time I walked into work the next morning I knew I was doing the Right Thing.

Tonight I spent time with the two people that I think I was meant to spend the Last Night with. They reminded me of the best parts about being here. The best parts are the friendships I've made. The friends that were there when I needed them. The ones who made me laugh through the tears. The ones who commiserated over The Job and kids and the deaths of relationships. The ones who made living here bearable, if not possibly worth it.

What this chapter of my life amounted to is these friendships and the lessons they've taught me. I can do the things I want to do. I have choices. I know gratitude. There is real love in my life. It didn't come in the form of Prince Charming. It arrived in these beautiful, strong, smart, funny, dependable, witty women. The friendships I least expected turned out to be the best and the most meaningful.

So, while I'm saying goodbye, I feel it's not a real goodbye. These are the relationships that will last. We'll sit outside on a summer evening once again discussing our troubles, our joys, reminiscing over the moments that brought us together. We'll profess our love over cocktails, passing down these small rites to our daughters.

People say that Bend has a lot to offer. And it does. It's spectacularly beautiful in the summer. It's a skier's paradise in the winter. You love beer? Well, this is the place. Me? I'm going to take these offerings of friendship with me. The lessons of gratitude. The moments of laughter and the acceptance of my tears.

Ladies, thank you. Because of you I have the courage to make this giant leap into the next adventure. I will carry your hearts. I will carry them in my heart. Always and forever, with gratitude and love.

Thank you. I love you.
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