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John Gorka once noted that anyone living with their baggage packed, leaves more often than they ever come back. This spot-on observation describes the feeling for both the host and the visitor. However warm or cold any reception or stay, leavings never come easily. Nobody ever intended to stay beyond their welcome, but nobody welcomes leaving.

Leaving seems like grown up stuff, hard and ungratifying work requiring an almost inhuman discipline. I imagine that it must be good for somebody, but the repacking and the heading out cracks even hardened hearts. I seem to shrink from the backside of any adventure. Heading back’s no heading out experience, even when we take an unfamiliar route back home.

I will be up early to get a head start on my essential procrastination. I will see the roller bag patiently waiting for me to repack it, and I will do anything but start repacking. I will find the opportunity to shave more carefully or finally sort through accumulated email on my mobile. I will hoard electricity, charging then recharging, knowing I do not know when the next outlet might avail itself.

My eyes will distractedly study the table top, refusing eye contact with my soon to be ex-host, denying the distance we’re conspiring to create between us. Theirs will be no more attentive, as if I’d already gone, and I might have. The separation dance began at supper the night before. The then familiar pattern we’d ginned up between us during this now seemingly short stay will have started cracking, and we will have become shadowy aware that we will never repeat this ritual in this way again. The infinite-seeming horizon bordering that day will have begun stalking us that afternoon, and we both know it will engulf us by morning. We will not speak of this.

My heart suffocates in my chest as I realize that I am no longer in charge of anything. An innocently acquired reservation, made more than a month ago, compels me now. A pile of other business calls me back into normal times. My aspirations collapse into obligations, and these temporary relations must dissolve.

We will promise to stay in touch, and we will try, even knowing that we imply something else altogether when we say goodbye. Out of sight, we understand that we must also fall out of mind however permanently we might inhabit each other’s heart. This will be a breach birth, permanently separating one from the other. We will never discover exactly this time together again.

The weather promises enough uncertainty to fein an adventure. The roller bag seems smaller inside and heavier on the outside, but it still zips up. I wander through this fading space one last time, checking for inadvertent left-behinds, making one last bathroom stop. We part with one inadequate, rib-crushing hug and lumpy throats. I might pretend I’m not sobbing inside and you will gratefully reciprocate, though we’re each seeing through each other’s ruse. You will watch me recede into my future while I hold your presence in my rear view mirror until we both disappear. I was only just visiting, and we both knew our ultimate purpose would involve this dissolution. Things will never be the same again.

We leave more often than we ever come back because we seem to leave behind much more than we ever bring with us, even considering the overstuffed exiting roller bag. We leave, as we must, the time which was always fleeting anyway. We leave our presence which we never really possessed, it having always depended upon the host for acknowledgement. We leave behind a future, too, the one that welcomed the visitor, promising connection there. And we leave behind the choices that seemed so possible when we came together, but resolved themselves into experienced outcomes by the time we said—and most sincerely meant—fare thee well.

I leave feeling full and feeling as though I will fare anything but well. I had almost grown used to even the inconveniences. The too small kitchen where supper miraculously turned out eatable anyway, and the cramped bathroom and the creaky hide-a-bed came to feel perfectly normal, completely acceptable. Even my disrupted rituals enjoyed this respite, losing some of their formerly sacred imperative, but I doubt that I will fare very well out there. I will hold this conviction until proven wrong again, as I’ve been proven wrong every time before. I will fare, poorly or well, and I will be simply gone. Neither of us were never more than just visiting there, anyway.

©2014 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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