Before I knew what the words meant, I wrote an ending to a short story in college: something about how things were always coming and going, coming and going–how everything was moving and nothing ever stopped. At the time, it felt like the vocalization of a yearning–for a life that would pull me out of my stagnant existence in one place. But for the character to whom I gave the words, it was a refrain. People are always coming and going, coming and going. Places disappear. Moments pass. People are always coming and going.
The night before I left Ljubljana, the furniture inside the Vrhovčeva Street apartment was mildly sticky from humidity. It smelled like summer–like cherry trees and grass, and grapes that were not yet ripe hanging on vines beneath the windows. When I walked into our courtyard, the automatic lights came on and illuminated the path to the tree and the patio chairs. I side-stepped the patch of light and walked behind the garden bamboo branches and stood, frozen, until the light went off. I tried to count the stars, but I kept losing track. My books were no longer on the shelves inside. My roommate was making English lesson plans at the table.
Patches of my memory from the next day are gone. I remember wheeling my suitcases out to the street and that I looked down Vrhovčeva one last time as the shuttle bus pulled away. The woman at the Adria Airlines counter complimented my Slovenian. I bought a water bottle in the gift shop, and on impulse, another book. I remember those facts but not the moments or the feelings.
People come and go. Places disappear. Moments pass. Good-byes, however temporary, are hard.