By the time this is published, I’ll have literally lost my two best friends. Casually mentioned a few columns ago was that Chuck and L applied for a job teaching English as a second language in Japan. They even had their big interview while I was visiting them in Vancouver. Needless to say, their superior skills won them the jobs, and by the time this is on my website, they’ll be working for a living in the city of Sapporo. I’ve had to say good-bye to them so many times in the last few months, and every time I said good-bye, I found myself struggling to find the perfect final words to say to them. What can I say? I have a dramatic flair, and as such want my final words to be the kind that sticks with people.
L shipped out at the start of December. I said good-bye to her twice. A week before she left, I called her, just to hear her voice that one last time. I interrupted the big farewell feast that her mother had prepared for her. L and I talked for about half an hour, mostly about how she was feeling. She said that she was trying to keep herself emotionally detached, because she knew that if she didn’t, there would be tears. I was so close to bursting into tears myself. I asked some really stupid questions, and she answered them. The sign of a true friend is to what extent they will put up with your stupidity. My final words to her that night, while choking back the tears, was a simple, “Good-bye.”
The second time I said good-bye to her was about a week later. It was the night before her flight left, and I just had this…urge to call again. So, I did. That was a very unusual phone call. I didn’t have much to say to her, and she didn’t have much left to say to me, so for about twenty minutes we shared an awkward silence over the phone. I think, though, that she wasn’t as emotionally detached that night, as I could hear a slight quiver in her voice from time to time. Drawing on my rich Star Trek heritage, my final words to her in that phone call were “live long and prosper.” That made her laugh, and hearing her laugh made me feel better. And then she was on the other side of the world.
Chuck shipped out at the start of January. I also said good-bye to him twice. Luckily for me, he decided to come home for Christmas, and he managed to come up to Entwistle for a day. Like most of the few days he spent in Entwistle in 2001, we spent most of the day going through my DVD collection, while I showed off several of the neat bonus materials on my latest acquisitions. Then, after we watched the latest episode of The Tick, and the premiere of the Spider-Man trailer, we went for a walk through Entwistle. There, spending an hour and a half traipsing through the snow covered streets of my hometown, we had our last deep, meaningful conversation. He spent the night at my place, and set out for Kingman as I headed off to work. We hugged, and again, my final words were just a simple “Good-bye.”
The second time I said good-bye was also a phone call on the eve of his trip. I called him up, and we spent two hours just talking about Episode II and our upcoming creative projects. He always has so much excitement in his voice when he talks about the projects he’s working on. Again, my final words were just a simple “Good-bye.” And now, he’s reunited with his love.
I have been wondering quite a bit why I’m taking Chuck and L’s leaving so hard. I mean, I’ve already been through something similar with Chuck, when he went to Nova Scotia for a year to learn French. And as for L and I, well, we’ve always done most of our talking through e-mail anyway. She still has Internet access, so it’s not like our friendship is going to change drastically. I think it has to do with the finality of leaving the country. I think it has to do with the absolute that I will not see them for three years, maybe more if they really like their jobs. I think it has to do with that they are no longer within driving distance. I think it has to do with the fact that, now that they live on the other side of the world, the odds of me hopping on a plane and going to where they are have greatly reduced.
I’m no longer going to have my weekly conversations with Chuck, like we did when we first met back in university. He’d be working late on the school paper, and I’d see that his light was on in his office, and I’d stop in and say, “I saw your light was on, and thought I’d stop in.” We’d spend the next several hours just talking. I remember the final time I did that in my second year of university. I told him that I was thinking of doing a column for the paper full time that next year, and he said, “That’d be good. You’re a good writer.” A lot of people have told me that since, but when he first said that to me, he made me believe it.
I’m no longer going to be able to just go and hang out with L. I remember when she was living in that house with three roommates, and I went to visit her for that weekend. Again, just the hours we spent talking to each other…. I’d always lament about my lack of a love life, and she’d pat me on the head and tell me, “It’s OK. You’ll find someone, someday.” Lots of people say that to me, but she’s one of the few who made me believe it.
When I said good-bye to them at the Vancouver airport, I was left struggling for the perfect final words to say to them. Throughout the past three months, I have continuously struggled to find those perfect final words. I just want to say the words that will make them remember me. They are probably going to go have big lives, and I just want to stay their friend as the years go by. And so, I think I’ve found the words.
I bared my soul to you two, and you didn’t point and laugh.
I confessed my fears to you two, and you made me believe in myself.
I showed you some of the strangest parts of my life, and despite that, you like me.
I don’t know what the future holds, but I do hope that our friendship will endure.
Thank you for being there. Thank you accepting me. Thank you for being my friends.
Chuck…L…I love you two.