Leaving and Being Left Behind: Airports, Farewells, Transience

Apologies for the radio silence lately. I have journeyed to the center of the world and returned to wallow in a terrible combination of heat exhaustion, separation anxiety and post-travel-poverty.

I went to Tokyo last week to see a dear friend off at the airport. I like airports, but I’m used to being the one leaving on or returning from some adventure, not the one being left behind.

There he goes!

It’s a strange feeling and I’m not sure I like it. I’m of the opinion that it is always easier to leave than to be left behind. When you leave a place to move on to someplace new, or old, you have something to look forward to, a page to turn, a new adventure. While it’s difficult to part with the things behind you, you’re consoled by the promise of things ahead. But when you are left behind, it sometimes feels like all you have is the absence of the one who’s gone, and the awareness that things will never be the same.

Except, that’s not all I have. If the relationship was rich it can never leave you with nothing. I have countless memories of experiences, of adventures and conversations and hilarious moments, of happy times and heartbreaking ones. I have pictures, presents, and a pile of plushies to remind me in case the memories fade.

Now who will win UFO catcher prizes for me?

And of course, I always have the internet. A couple oceans and continents of separation isn’t all that much, really.

Life’s short and unpredictable, the transient life of a wanderer even more so. Places, experiences and friendships are made that much richer by their impermanence, and forgetting this truth can lead to mistakenly taking these things for granted. I suppose I could withdraw and refuse to get attached to anyone or anything, but you can’t have the highs without the lows. I’ll take the lows any day because the highs, even brief and fleeting as they are, make it all worth it.

Farewell karaoke at the place where Lost In Translation was filmed. Recreating the moment…

And hey, at least now I have a new travel destination or two to add to my wish list! *sniff sniff sob*

What do you think? Is it easier to leave, or to be left behind?

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14 thoughts on “Leaving and Being Left Behind: Airports, Farewells, Transience

  1. It’s harder to be left behind, for sure. But in this day of technology, we’re all so very connected all the time if we so choose. I like the idea, too, that you can add a new travel destination to your plans!

  2. I’m in the minority here, but I’d rather be left. Things change and people rotate, but at least everything else in my life is a constant that I can look to for support. 🙂 (I dreamed that I replied to this already… so strange… 🙂 )

  3. Touching piece.

    Although I’m not sure I feel the same way about the “leaving” vs. “being left behind”. When I left to start a new life in Denmark at the age of 14, I actually felt worse than I imagined the people I left behind were feeling. I kept thinking that they all still had each other and the “old” life, while I was alone in a new place. Almost made me feel like a “me vs. them” scenario, where I was the outsider.

    I think on some level I still feel that way. Then again, that’s the cost of travelling, relocating and experiencing new things, so it’s all good!

    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I guess circumstance has a lot to do with it. I can imagine most 14-year-olds would not be incredibly happy about leaving all their friends and everything they know behind…

      I sometimes think about my own friends back home and how their lives go on perfectly fine without me… they’re getting married, having kids, and I’m going to be that weird stranger that they introduce their kids to one day and their kids will be all like ‘who the heck are you and why do you belong in my parents’ life?!’ Haha… But as you say, that’s the cost.

  4. The amount of information left in the background of this post seems heavy and I can’t help but be curious. But it is what it is and I’ll leave my curiosity to ponder other things.

    The more I experience other people the less and less convinced I am that experiences with them, all things considered, are worthwhile endeavours. Truth be told, people have the tendency to demonstrate they are vapid or passively assenting to the current state of affairs at best. It’s with increasing rarity that I encounter individuals with any real zest or caring, they’re simply too caught up in being in their own personal bubbles to see that other people exist and that they can actually affect other people. Sadly, these personal bubbles often have spikes. And this is the common folk, not the avaricious and ambitious business leaders and political figures.

    With that in mind I think that it isn’t better to be the one leaving or the one left behind. I think that it’s better to carefully consider our attachments.

    1. Heavy? Not sure where your mind is wandering, but there was no romance involved if that’s what you’re thinking, heh… simply a person who became a very good friend of both my husband and I since we moved to Japan, moved back to his home country, which is on a different continent than our own.

      And I do agree that some people may not be worth the trouble… but some people are, and those are the ones that are hard to let go of…

  5. Much easier to leave. For those of us that expect our life to play out like some weird amalgam of every movie ever, being left has a certain appeal. You get to be sad and skip responsibilities. You get to cry and be comforted. You are the one everyone feels about. You’re the center of the story.
    We all know that’s not really what happens though. There’s just a person-shaped empty space that used to be less empty. That stinks.

  6. Much easier to leave! I left my home in North Carolina and travelled to England 9 years ago. Going on trips makes me re-evaluate my life and refreshes me. I feel like those are the best times for me to make plans for the future.

    Being left behind just makes me feel like everyone else is going places but me. Not so much fun. I feel for you!

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