I returned my keys to my landlord yesterday. I gave farewell high fives to the wonderful children that I babysit. I dropped off my remaining non-spandex clothing at the thrift shop. I hugged two of my closest friends goodbye outside the gayborhood block party, our solemn moment contrasting the glittery excitement around us.

Why is this so damn difficult?

I've left countless places and people before, often with less of a plan to return. And this time, I will be back. I'll be away for a mere seven months, not forever. Still, I feel a dull aching with each goodbye.

I never said goodbye to Patrick. Our last phone call was an excited fifteen minute affair. I spoke about lesson plans and he about headwinds. We chattered about our parents' new diet plan, about our respective long-distance partners. I talked too much about all the drama and joy of teaching summer school, so didn't get to hear much about Bike and Build. Not to worry, he said when I apologized for gabbing most of the call. He was off to jump in a swimming pool, but he'd tell me all about everything in a day or two.

I often wonder what I would say if I knew that was it. If I knew that was the last time I would ever speak to him. Would we rehash old memories or would we plan for how I could live out his dreams for him? Would we say that we were proud of one another, that loved each other, even more than we usually did? Or would we leave it just as we did, with a beautiful and casual parting?

To all the loved ones I've said goodbye to, and to all the others I haven't had the chance to: I love you, and I'll see you soon. You see, I'm off to jump in a swimming pool, but I'll tell you all about everything in a day or two.