transience, transiency: the state or quality of passing with time or being ephemeral or fleeting. — transient, adj.

“All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy, for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter into another.”
~Anatole France~

Sometimes I get to wondering what in my life isn’t transient…. so far, there’s not much on my ‘constant’ list. Is life always like that?

I’ve said so many goodbyes, that I am starting to hope against all odds that life won’t always be like this. Many times they are goodbyes for an indefinite (and potentially life-long) period of time. Graduation from high school was full of (most likely) life-long goodbyes. I said goodbye to dozens of girls at my high school graduation that I had lived with for a huge and significant part of my life, in boarding school, and most of them I haven’t seen since. That was almost ten years ago.

When I do have an unexpected reappearance from my past, its often just enough to bring back old memories of old places, people, times, and it makes me homesick for somewhere other. I don’t know if this is the TCK in me, or if it’s just the transient nature of life and is an experience shared by many people. I recently read a blog post on a word that can be meaningful to TCK’s, and the word is “saudade”, in Portuguese. There isn’t a clean or complete English translation of “saudade”, but I think it hints at some of my feelings towards the many goodbyes I have had to say in my life. You can read the blog post here, and maybe it’ll give you some insight into my issues (haha) or at least other MK’s/TCK’s and their longing for other places and times.

Sometimes my goodbyes are not life-long goodbyes, but they are definitely LONG goodbyes, with years between visits. In college I had a smaller circle of people who knew me, but still I only see a small but intimate pocket of them once a year (maybe). Those reunions will become fewer and far between as people marry, settle down, and start families. My closest friends, save one roommate from college, are all engaged or have gotten married. I have been to many weddings (it’s that phase of life for so many of my friends…), and weddings elicit a similar response in me as some goodbyes, but with a sweet component mixed in. A wedding is a beautiful and good thing, but there is also a deep change of sorts, and in some ways they feel like a goodbye. (It’s also a massive “hello!” to the person they marry, which is the sweet component). I felt this way at several friends’ weddings, and definitely at my brother’s wedding. As a friend’s life progresses and becomes more rooted, that friend will probably be less available to me. It’s a natural and good progression for them, but life will never be the same, for either of us. It is for good reasons, but it is still a change.

My homes have changed, countries have changed, churches have changed, social circles have changed, and now being in New York, even though I live on the same street, go to the same school, and attend the same church as I did three years ago, the people around me change. My neighbors have changed over completely. My roommate is changing this month. My Bible study has changed. My lab mates graduate or move away. New York is a very transient city; people come and go, come and go, and very few are here to stay (myself included). Even if people are here for the long haul, the city is so massive, and people are so busy, that you can go months (literally) without seeing someone who you would consider one of your better friends in the city. And then that friend moves away. It happens over and over again.

And despite all this complaining about change (thanks for putting up with it), part of me also wonders if I were placed in a situation where nothing ever changed, how quickly I would become disenchanted with the consistency… probably pretty quickly. 🙂 In a perfect world, I would have enough change to keep life exciting, but also never have to say goodbye to people I care about. And I am beginning to understand a bit clearer why my Grandpa B says repeatedly that heaven is looking like a better and better place. Think of all the reunions! And it won’t be a temporary reunion either.

And a final bit of wisdom from K, which is good to hold on to, is that “The best is yet to come”. Imagine being in high school or college forever, and all the experiences you’d miss in adulthood. Marriage, having kids, a career you love and never having to study world history if you hate it, having grandkids… it would be so sad to miss those experiences. And so maybe I should think of life as a trade-off… you have to say some sad and long goodbyes but in exchange you’ll have some fantasic hellos that will change your life in wonderful ways.

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