Why You Don’t Need To See Me Before I Go
A banner drops down, interrupting my unconscious scrolling. Message from Liv.* I immediately swipe up and get rid of the notification. I haven’t seen Liv in a while. We intermittently send Snapchats, and tag each other in memes, although it’s all pretty shallow. We’ve known each other for a long time. We’re part of a bigger group of friends that hang out when our schedules will permit. I see their faces in our group chat more than I do in real life.
“I knowww I’ve asked you a million times before, but when do you leave?”
I lock my phone before replying. I’ll think of an excuse later.
I’m heading overseas for six months, spending a semester abroad in London. While I don’t exactly have ~traveller~ in my Instagram bio, nor do I know how many countries I’ve been to, people aren’t really surprised when I tell them I’m going away again. I enjoy exploring the world around me, and I’m fortunate enough to be able to do so. A lot of my friends are like this too. We’re used to each other being in and out of the country, and understand timezone woes, sub-par WiFi and weeks with no reception. But there’s one thing we all seem to cling on to: saying goodbye.
Messages like the one from Liv are common. It’s not the first one I’ve received in the last few weeks, and I doubt it will be the last. Different versions include “We must have drinks before you leave!”, and the vomit-inducing “When are you free?” I’m never free. Stop asking. In fact, can I give you a price for my time? London is expensive, and I am working my ass off to make sure I can survive, so I could use your money, thanks.
These threats requests for a playdate aren’t as empty as the “We should get lunch!” rhetoric thrown at that old high-school friend who you used to be so close with, right before they got really into triple j, mom-jeans, and were suddenly way, way too cool for you. This request is serious.
You have every intention of actually following through. But I am praying to St. Christopher that you flake out so that I don’t feel guilty for not actually wanting to spend one of my last nights in the country with you.
Some friends that have reached out to me are even further removed than the likes of old mate Liv. Anyone that uses “catch up” when asking to hang out before I go is immediately at the bottom of the list. Why would I want to catch up with you before I go away? If I haven’t seen you in 18 months, I’m sure you can survive another six. Instead, please just let me spend my evening eating one of my Mum’s home-cooked dinners, laughing with my sister and sleeping in my double bed – alone (actually, maybe with the cat).
The closer it gets to departure date, the more precious my time is. Not only am I trying to pick up as many last-minute shifts as possible, but I also have to prepare myself. I’ve not started packing, I haven’t booked a place to stay for my first night, and I am winging the entire visa process.
Yes, I’m going away again. But no, you don’t need to see me before I go. I will come home. And frankly, if I don’t, I wonder what it would matter to you.
*name has been changed
Cover by Damir Bosnjak