“I don’t know how much more love this heart can lose
And I’m dying, dying from these exit wounds.”
(The Script-Exit Wounds).
I didn’t know what to expect when I was given The University of Southern Mississippi as my exchange placement in December 2013. It’s been so good but I often think about the moment/day when this adventure ends. That summer day when I have to do all of this packing up for the last time and leave for good. The day when the floodgates will burst open and my heart will re-break all over again. Will it be better or worse this time around? Will it feel like an untreated wound or the icing on the cake? Should I pre-order the optex now and a decent amount of tissues? Understandably, I’m not looking forward to this day. Undeniably, I’ve known all along that this moment/day would come along (again). My life will consist of goodbyes from 2013-2016. That’s the path I chose for myself. The ironic thing is that it doesn’t seem to get any easier to come to terms with despite how many times you go through it- like grief I suppose. I don’t know about other people but recently I’ve come to see life as a matter of finish lines. We go through the motions, get to one line and then chase another- the “circle of life.” And once you’ve reached one “race to the finish line” you can’t ever repeat those motions. Nothing lasts forever– the good, the bad, the happy or the sad. And me, being a big thinker, often questions the meaning of life. Do we complete the motions and fill out the questionnaire about the time we spent on earth when we reach heaven or hell or wherever we’re supposed to go? One may joke and say that it’s “eat, sleep, rave, repeat” but what makes us different to one another? Are we even different? Do we just experience the motions but in a different sequence?
“And I hurt so bad, that I search my skin
For the entry point, where love went in
And ricocheted and bounced around
And left a hole when you walked out.”
(The Script-Exit Wounds).
What Hurts the Most.
As I packed up my things and took down my display in my dorm, I begun to feel very emotional. I don’t know the amount of times I’d just looked at that wall. I love photographs for a reason. I love capturing the moment. I love capturing the emotion. I love capturing what once was, as often it is the case that they will never be that way again. Bittersweet reality. As I re-read the notes on the back of the photographs and rolled up the posters, I felt this fissure in my heart and it scared me because this day really will come and it’s going to sting so bad when this chapter- the “American Adventure” ends. A real life time bomb. It came at the end of my “Australian Adventure” and it’ll come again when my degree is complete. Unfortunately, unlike my travels the chapters in the book of life is not a “round trip.” However, having done it once doesn’t mean I feel capable of doing it again. Although the choice isn’t mine- once that visa expires I have to be gone. “That’s life” you will say. I just wish it wasn’t that way. People will be “happy” to see you upon return for a week at the most. They won’t understand the mental journey you went on, as well as the physical one, and perhaps you can’t expect them to either. They will become bored and sometimes envious of your endeavours whilst they have stayed in the same place, mentally AND physically without a story to compare to bestseller that could be yours. I’m a very sentimental person. One day all these people will be is a memory, a photo. Again “that’s life” you’ll say. This is why I pester people to send me letters and postcards. I don’t want to fire up a device every time I want to re-read a message or look at a particular photo. I want to be able to hold it and know it’s real. That we happened. That’s the best thing about acquiring tattoos on these trips, I can look at my leg and have that chapter open always. I know within myself that the whole thing wasn’t a daydream. The pain of the needle for 30-60 minutes was worth it for the lifetime of pleasure it gives my soul. I want to be able to dig out your picture/letter/postcard/drawing out from my memory box and folder at 3am when it’s all said and done and I’m thinking about life and can’t sleep. I want to remember everything, although in reality I should probably be trying to forget certain things. It amazes me how little time it takes for someone to mean something to you. It amazes me how dependent you can become on the presence of another; albeit a screen, a face or one form of daily/regular contact. And what amazes me the most is how you can love someone and not know it until they’re not around anymore. And that’s when I’ll tell YOU “that’s life.” *Notice how I’ve dropped the “L-Bomb.”*
“And I found that time don’t heal all pain,
So I’ll just keep breathing
I’ll just keep breathing
Until we meet again.”
(Scouting for Girls- Without You)
Breaking Your Own Heart.
You can never expect people to understand. After all, they will never really and truly have to walk in your shoes will they? No two situations/feelings are the same, although you’ll usually find someone who can empathise. To empathise with the fact that your body is in one place but your head may be in another. To empathise with the fact there are “pieces” of you across the globe now. To empathise with you that you’ve changed, maybe your outlook/beliefs/opinions in ways that people will have to dig deeply to see (unless you tell them). Not just because you’ve travelled but the people you’ve met who walk this world, travel it and photograph it. It’s like searching for Horcruxes. It’s a challenge but you haven’t got a sidekick to help you find them though. Unless you separate your head and heart I guess. And sometimes, you’ll feel as if you’re chasing your own tail, a lost cause. The worst thing is when the pieces seemed to be together in the wrong location on a temporary carpet of time. It’s a bittersweet taste of the teaser that is life and when you “fall from cloud nine” your perspective will change dramatically as you shed the tears, print the photographs and attempt to help yourself move forward by stepping out the front door everyday and continuing to live life.
“Here we are, playing this crazy game,
We’ve come so far, but we’re sliding down again
like Snakes and Ladders,
all that matters is trying to get back up…”
(Scouting for Girls- Snakes and Ladders).
In today’s world, social media is the island where we keep everyone we care about within “eyeshot” and “earshot.” That’s the hand we’ve been dealt. The thing is though, even if you went back to the “place(s)” mentally and physically that you loved so much and felt so alive, you must remember that it was a “yolo moment.” The second time around it WILL be different. Different people, different circumstances, different stages of life. There’s a “first time for everything” but there’s also a last. But hey, it could be better the second time around, right? You’d have to live through it to find out, and ride the rollercoaster known as life- not knowing when you’ll be turned upside down again, feel moments of surging adrenalin or having things come to an abrupt stop. One step, one day, one experience at a time.
“I couldn’t keep you,
but I’ll keep my word
It’s the most beautiful
pain in the world
And I love how it hurts
This is my journey
This ain’t the end
I’m waiting here
Till I see you again.”
Scouting for Girls- Love How It Hurts.