Dallas – Part 5

March 4, 2009 | By | Add a Comment

I’m not very good at saying goodbye. I’m so bad at it that I usually don’t tell people I’m leaving and sometimes just disappear. It’s always so awkward. If I must say goodbye, I say things that I’m not sure are accurate such as, “I’m sure I’ll see you again.” The truth is, I’m not sure if I will see you again and I can’t really find the right words for how much you mean to me and I want to make this seem less final and difficult, so I hope saying “I’ll see you again” will do.

What I am trying to communicate is that even though we’ve only known each other for a short time, I’ve felt loved by you at one or many points and I don’t know how to express my gratitude because there really isn’t a much better feeling than how you made me feel. You’ve touched my life and I am seriously going to miss you. That is hard for me to say, though, so I’ll probably end up just making a joke and punching you in the bicep.

In many ways, it’s seems like the wrong time to be saying goodbye. I was just moving from acquaintances to real friendships and really getting to know the city. I know the best places to eat and best places to study and best places to workout. I met all-you-can-eat buffets like CiCi’s and the Golden Corral and finally figured out why all the Sonic commercials are always filmed with people in the car. I know where to park and got so badly lost enough times to finally know how to get places without google maps. I know what place has the Monday night special on wings and what place has the Wednesday night special on pizza. Most of all, I know where people are going to smile when they see me.

A friend started calling me the guy from “Cheers” due to the way I talk. I don’t know much about that show, but I know that whenever I went to the gym the lady at the front desk smiled at me and said “Hi Mark!”. What is kind of sad is that I have to call her “lady at the front desk” because I never got to know her name. I never got to know her name because I never asked. I’m not used to living in a world where strangers are friendly and actually seem to care about each other. Others would ask how my day was and really seem to want to know the answer. It’s something that always caught me more than a little bit off guard. I spent my last moments in Dallas with a group of friends. Gradually, my friends had to leave and I was left talking to four strangers. Only 15 minutes later, I was saying goodbye to four more friends.

When I worked in a school, I used to walk down the hallway and peer into the classrooms as the students were being taught. One of the things that always struck me was how each classroom was oblivious to what was going on in the other classrooms. Each room was like its own little world. Perhaps that is what I will cherish the most about Dallas. For so long, I’ve thought that Boston was all there is. For four months, I’ve had the chance to sit in a different class.

And I was a student. I learned that there can be more than one way to do things. I learned about McDonald’s shaped like Happy Meals. I learned that you can have eight car washes in a three mile radius. I learned about the Bible Belt and girls from Louisiana and how a youth pastor who looks like he should be on a GQ cover can still do an amazing job.

I wish I could sit in all the classrooms at once. Life doesn’t work like that, though. You can only be in one place at a time and you can’t stay in fourth grade forever. You have to move on. You have to graduate. Sometimes, you have to say goodbye. Perhaps the greatest lessons I learned were reminders of things I had forgotten. I learned how to take an interest in someone else’s life. I saw better models of what it means to care for each other. I came to a greater realization of how empty life is without love.

I leave behind Barney and the Fruit Salad singing Wiggles and a beautiful niece who would sit on my lap and say “Maarrrhk”. She got really tall and learned how to talk while I was here. I leave behind the men’s Bible study and watermelon flavored slushes during happy hour at Sonic. I say farewell to Supermodel young adults pastor and a collection of friends whom I was really starting to love. I have a better understanding of what Jesus meant when he said, “Whatever you did for the least of these, you did for me” and give a piece of my expanded heart to a place that welcomed and cared for me from the very start. It did such a good job that I couldn’t help but care for it in return.

So, as awful as I am at it, I say goodbye.

I say hello to whatever is next.

And close another chapter.


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