Change isn't hard for me. In fact I tend to thrive when I enter new situations. The newness of everything gives me energy. Creating, brainstorming, and figuring things out feeds my soul. I've worked in some intense places (in Beirut with refugees, in Baltimore with drug addicts, in Yellowstone National Park with tourists - the most difficult of all), but nothing seems to shake me. Colleagues often comment on how un-phased I seem in my new surroundings.
What I am discovering as I grow up is that it's not the saying hello that is difficult for me, but the saying goodbye. I've lived in many places and I think to truly experience a place you need to fully dive in; to fall in love and lose yourself in it. But in my experience when you do this you are also ripping out a piece of your heart and leaving it behind. This is the blessing and the curse of travel and moving. Having many places to call home where you'll always know someone is incredible, but not having a central place that really feels fully "yours" can make it hard to feel as if you belong anywhere.
In the past I've channeled all of the sadness and grief I feel about leaving a place into future thinking. I get excited about what my life will be like in this new place. This is not completely a bad thing to do, but in doing it I never do goodbyes well. I am in my last week of living in Beirut, a city I've called home for nearly a year. This time I'm actively working on saying goodbye well. I'm writing letters to the people who have meant the most to me this year, I'm taking walks past all of my favorite places, and soaking up as much of the Mediterranean sunshine as I possibly can. I'm learning that the best first step toward a new beginning, is a good ending.
Some photos from my last week. L-R, A typical street view in Beirut, My favorite Lebanese dishes, The goodbye cake from my coworkers.