Approximately two weeks ago, I suddenly began feeling things in “lasts.” It started with toilet paper. I was standing in the supermarket and I shit you not (ha, see what I did there?), I grabbed a pack of toilet paper and suddenly felt a wave of sadness. I felt sad because I thought “this is the last pack of toilet paper I will buy for this apartment.”
Feel free to laugh at me. Do it, do it loudly. Make that belly shake. Pleaaaaase. I know I definitely did. I felt a wave of sadness followed by an immediate wave of hilarity. I stood in the supermarket aisle, clutching that pack of toilet paper and I cackled. I cackled heartily at the fact that I was literally feeling melancholic over paper I wipe my butt with. Haaaa how weird am I?
Over the past few weeks I have gone in for my last check up (for now) at my dentist. The other day I paid my rent for the last time. I have had clients come in at work and I have informed them that after this their further contact will be with my colleagues. I’ve had last coffees, drinks and dinners with friends. I’ve had dinner with my family and the next time I’ll see some of them will be in 7 months. Lasts, lasts, lasts, lasts, lasts.
Now, I am well aware that I am not falling off the face of the planet. I am not going to some uninhabited island to be shackled there forevermore. I literally already have a flight ticket booked for June, with which I will return to Amsterdam. I intend to go visit my family in Curacao thereafter. Why so dramatic, Nicole?
I know, I know. Rationally I know that these things aren’t really lasts. They are, but they aren’t. I have moved enough times in my life to know that home is a place I carry with me. My home has been a big, beautiful house. It has been a small studio apartment. Tomorrow my home will be a 40 liter backpack.
And it may not be rational, but I’m beginning to think that every home you say goodbye to carries its own kind of weight. That weight is not made up so much of the walls that sheltered you, rather it’s made up of the memories that kept you both warm and cold. The weight of this home is an interesting one. The goodbyes at this juncture, even though they are temporary, feel big.
Because if I am truly honest with myself I know it’s not about saying goodbye to my apartment, or my job, or my family and friends. Those aren’t the things I’m saying goodbye to. That’s not what the heaviness is.
It suddenly hit me the other day that this weight is that of saying goodbye to a certain version of myself.
It’s saying goodbye to a worried and doubtful little Nicole. I’m envisioning her as a child. Why is that? Have I gone cuckoo-bananas?
I’m looking at her and I’m telling her there’s nothing to worry about anymore, nothing to doubt. I’m telling her she deserves to be here, imperfectly perfect as she is. I’m seeing her sweetness. Her tenderness towards others which, when she hits her twenties, she will come to learn is something that needs both protecting and protection from. Little Nicole, forever trying to figure out where exactly she wants to be. Whether her visions of a future as a lawyer, her dreams of her future as a painter, her imaginations of her future as a writer penning novels in a cabin can all coexist. Little Nicole who always felt her vulnerability was a weakness, felt her emotionality was a fault. Little Nicole who, when she hit 21 began to put in some hard work. Who for 6 years, has worked on herself. Who has put in the time and effort needed to come home to herself. To embrace the fact that she doesn’t need changing at all, what she needs is embracing.
I’m saying goodbye to the ever-worried, ever-doubtful, ever-scared version of myself. I’m giving her a reassuring hug and grabbing her hand. I’m telling her we’re going to leave our doubts and worries about ourselves at the door. There are plenty of other things to doubt and worry about.
I’m telling her that, absolutely, we will always keep growing, we will always keep putting in the work as we evolve. It’s important that we do. But while we do that, she and I, we are (re)claiming our space. We’re doing so quite simply because we’ve finally embraced that we deserve to.
Is it deep? I’m not sure, maybe it is. But you know what I love most about it? It’s that this realization started with a pack of toilet paper.
Today I had some more lasts. I cleaned up my apartment and handed in my keys. And my heart feels lighter. I said “see you soon” to a few of my oldest friends and my heart swelled fuller.
And yes, sometimes I’m still scared and a little (ha, very much) nervous. But I’m grabbing my little hand and we’re walking, both thinking “this is going to be so, so good.”