February 14, 2014 - 3:43pm
BY JESSE KLEIN
I see my life in units of time and geography. Four months in Michigan. Three weeks in Palo Alto for break. Another 4 months in Ann Arbor. Then 4 wherever my summer plans take me.
Each unit separate and distinct. Each marked by saying goodbye followed by a trip to the airport.
So as a person well versed in goodbyes, I can tell you they are extremely liberating. And as – there is really only one way to say this – a cowardly person, I use those goodbyes to do the things the consequences of usually stop me.
In goodbye, I become the boldest version of myself — as do most.
If I am being honest, the boldest version of myself is, in actuality, not very bold at all.
Mostly I say the things I’m afraid to, to the people I’m afraid of. For me, that’s a lot.
There’s something freeing about 3,000 or more miles. It seriously takes the pressure off. All actions have consequences. However a plane trip certainly dilutes the severity, at least when it concerns the little things we all see as the big ones.
There’s the saying “drunk words are sober thoughts.” My version: Last minute actions have been months of dwelled upon fantasies. It’s not as pithy but it’s just as true.
And it’s not just me. Everyone takes action when they know they are forced to flee the next day. Or when the next opportunity to act on their feelings is half a year away. Or when they have to consider what they are really going to be missing out on.
When you can run away if things go wrong.
But if things go right, then you’re caught having to leave. Low risk, low reward. Goodbyes give us the freedom to live, if only for a moment, as if it was our last.
Fittingly, I leave for my adventure abroad on Valentine’s Day; a day that isn’t so much known for its big romantic gestures, but for unfilled expectations of them.
So I leave you with my Valentine’s Day advice: Romantic gestures are risky, much better to do them when an 18 hour plane ride is only 12 hours away. Do I intend to take my own advice? You might very well think that, but I couldn’t possibly comment. I might be watching Netflix instead.
Jesse Klein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org