Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Saying Goodbye

At the beginning of my senior year in high school, a bunch of friends and I were at a friend's house late at night and envisioning where we would be next year. All of us were planning to go to college and we wondered what we would all be doing at that time in the next year. We vowed to stay in touch and visit each other wherever each of us went, and thought we would all still be really close throughout college. However, that is not what has happened.

I still stay in touch with 4 or 5 good friends from high school, but our relationships are not the same as they once were. Distance has caused separation, but also our new lives independent of one another have created new friendships that may be more lasting than the ones created in high school. That is what makes saying goodbye to someone at the end of school so difficult. While you can promise to stay in touch and try as hard as we can to preserve the same relationship we once had, you both know that after that point nothing will ever be quite the same. When you go from spending time every day with someone to living separate lives, it is inevitable that your friendship will change in ways you can't anticipate.

On the one hand, due to modern technology like Facebook, Skype, Twitter, and text messaging, it is much easier to stay in touch with people. However, the definition of staying in touch has changed radically due to these new technologies. Instead of having long conversations on the phone or going to visit, "staying in touch" now constitutes a few texts back and forth or a Facebook conversation once in awhile. You communicate more often with people, but the breadth of the communication is much less than it was in the past, and I think that makes truly staying in touch with someone so difficult in today's day and age, and what made it hard to say goodbye last night to Shelby Moats and last year to John Jenkins.

As I mentioned in my blog tribute to John, he is one of my best friends. We became close as freshmen within the program and have remained close ever since. When he declared for the draft last year, I was really happy for him that he was on the verge of achieving his dream, but I was also sad that he wouldn't be there for our senior year together. The last time I saw John last year he was about to workout, and he gave me one of his game-worn jerseys and signed it with an inscription something like, "Dan-, thanks for everything and being a great friend. Love you bro, John Jenkins". It was a really nice gesture to get one of his jerseys and for him to sign it, then we said goodbye and that was the last time the two of us were officially classmates.

I knew that John and I would stay in touch, particularly because we both love basketball and we would talk about it, and he'd fill me in on the NBA and I'd do the same for him with Vandy, but neither of us knew what the future had in store. He could have ended up in Los Angeles or Sacramento, and I would hardly have seen him this year and who knows how often we would talk or stay in touch, but he got drafted by the Hawks. Atlanta is only 4 hours from Nashville, so I have been to 5 Hawks games this year, and spent 4 days there last week for the playoffs and I had a blast. It was just like old times and luckily he is close enough to Nashville that we could still hang out together a lot, but next year when he is in Atlanta and I'm at a site yet to be determined, who knows what our friendship will have in store.

The same is true for Shelby Moats. As I mentioned in my blog post on him, Shelby has become a really good friend since arriving here. He is one of those guys who I can talk about anything with, whether it be basketball, school, social lives, or just life in general. Last night, we were both hanging out in the locker room and it was around midnight, and I had a test to study for and he did also, so I went to say goodbye and go our separate ways, but it was such a weird moment for the both of us. We shook hands, then hugged, and then talked about how awkward it was, before chatting again for two hours.

It was like we both knew that as soon as I walked out that door, the friendship we had built up over two years would change forever, and we just weren't quite ready for that to happen. We had seen each other almost every day for two years and gotten to know each other very well, and now neither of us knew when the next time we'd see each other would be, and that uncertainty was just incredibly weird.

And that is why saying good bye is so hard because you don't know the paths you will go down and where you will end up, the only thing you know is that what you had won't ever quite be the same.

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