I have always been the type to put off finishing a book or a movie. I can’t stand goodbyes of any kind – parting with someone I love causes a part of my chest to flutter and constrict and ache in a way that nothing else does. And leaving places – leaving places has always been especially difficult. Even when I was little, I struggled with leaving a place behind. Everyone around me would be ready to return home, while no amount of time was ever enough for me. I’d try hard to fight back tears, which would well up fiercely at the thought of me having to walk away. I learned that what helped feel better was to convince myself that I could return as soon and as spontaneously as I wanted. I thought that it would get easier with age and maturity. But of course, the older I got, the more my love for places became interwoven with my love for certain people or certain pivotal moments, and leaving became even more difficult in a uniquely complex and raw way.
When I was about eight or nine years old, I remember staring out at the sea with my Mom during one of our family travels. We stood quietly, side by side, watching the trees sway in the wind, and she forced me to “make a memory”. I can still hear her voice asking me to focus, to record the scene in my mind, and to remember. Then I would have the power to return there whenever I wanted, just by calling up that memory.
That way, even if I leave a place, it never leaves me.