Of Endings (Leaving to Travel Yet Again)
A sturdy but slightly dusty 45L red and gray backpack, and an orange waterproof daypack are sitting on the floor, staring back at me. One weighs about 15kg and the other, about 5.
I’m ready. Here I am, standing and scanning at my almost empty and more spacious than usual small room. Most of the furniture are gone-I’ve either sold them or given them away. The other clothes, shoes and a barrage of knick-knacks have been packed away into two small suitcases while some books into a box. I’m no hoarder, as my nomadic lifestyle has never allowed me the luxury to, yet packing took longer than I’ve expected. In between my brief escapades, I’ve only lived in La Maison of Awesomeness (a name my housemates and I have given to our 3-bedroom apartment), for a total of 5 months, but somehow things found its way into my room. All those ‘stuff’-I’ve no more use for them anymore.
Already, I feel taller and incredibly light. Empowered by the prospect of adventures and the thrill of the unknown, to be reunited again with Mister A and other friends that I’ve made in Melbourne. Empowered by the delirium of returning to a joyfully alive city that always purveys of a million things to do, see and experience.
“Well, hello, it has been a while,” I gleefully say to my passport as I slap it against my palm. I know, it only has been two months, but still. I lug my backpack out of the door, into the corridor and I see my housemate Bee, standing waiting for me expectantly.
And my heart sinks.
At Bee’s weary face. Her mouth pinched and grim, her face reluctant to express any emotion, fearing that it would betray her true feelings. What’s happening? Why am I moved by Bee’s distress at my departure? Why is my heart flinching, overwhelmed with an unfamiliar feeling that I will actually miss what I’m leaving behind-my wonderful housemates, some old friends that I’ve reconnected with and some new friends that I’ve made along the way, and my estranged family? I’ve been living out of a suitcase for the past 6 years. Along the way, goodbyes have been bid, tears have been shed (enough for a fountain), friends and lovers come and go, yet when the time has finally come for me to leave again, I can’t bring myself to. I can’t say goodbye to La Maison of Awesomness and its inhabitants.
Bee later drops me off at KL Sentral Station. She said nothing much throughout the journey. Due to the building traffic, she doesn’t stay long. A hug, and a promise to stay in touch like how we used to.
“Bye man,” she says. “I think I’ll miss you.”
“I know I will. And don’t you cry.” I tease.
She shrugs and leaves, her eyes smarting.
At grubby LCCT Airport, where Air Asia flights take off, an ex-university classmate Junie has come to give me a proper farewell. I’m touched, that despite us not seeing each other after all these years, my presence still matters.
Another 1.5 hours before departure. I embrace the familiar airport scene: flashing departure and arrival information, teary goodbyes, backpacks and suitcases being lugged or dragged, overpriced fast food and coffee, a worn and scrappy concourse. I’ve always been blasé towards these common rituals after being in and out of airports so often yet this once; I’m riddled with first impressions.
I sit on a bench and wonder about the people I’ve left behind.
This is how leaving feels like. Complex, utterly disturbing yet gloriously exciting.
My heart flinches, oh yes.