Today my family left for our annual family vacation to Sparks, Nevada. It was weird to think that I was in Dresden, Germany sitting in an open field waiting for the sun to set, while my family was not even half-way through the fourteen hour drive. I felt like I should be with them – with my knees knocking against Karina’s in the backseat, and singing along at the top of our voices, and munching on chips, and asking my mom to pass back the watermelon.
I know I am having my own experiences but I also want to be part of my family’s experiences. I want to be in two places at once. Before I left – during the weeks that were leading up to my departure day – I remember thinking that it felt like I was leading up to my death day. I only had these set amount of days left with the people I loved and then I would have to watch them live on and create memories without me. I guess that’s the worst part – knowing that they’re making memories I won’t be part of.
Every once in a while, I feel a pang of sadness. It comes suddenly, like an unexpected drop of rain on your nose when you’re walking down the street. It comes when I read an email from my mom telling me that they are having hamburgers for dinner, or when my sister sends me a photo of my dad falling asleep at the breakfast table, or when I see a family eating home-made sandwiches. It’s fleeting and almost imperceptible – and if I wasn’t paying attention, I’d probably miss it completely.
Sometimes I feel sad when I see a person using an old-fashioned cell phone, or wearing shoes that I can tell they are so proud of, or carrying a broken backpack. Sometimes I feel sad when I see an old couple walking, or when I see kids playing at the park, or when I see a person reading a map, or when I look at a very old photograph and wonder what became of the people in it. Sometimes I feel sad when I think about myself too…buying a loaf of bread at the market, and trying to put eyeliner on correctly, and sitting here with the ants, and dreaming dreams that seem impossibly far away.
Maybe sad isn’t the right word to describe how I feel. It’s more of a tenderness. A tender sadness that is mixed with a deep yearning and invested interest for that person to be successful and happy.
It’s all a little confusing because at times, I can’t even articulate how happy I am to be out in the world experiencing life up close and personal. When I reflect on these moments years in the future, and proudly hang up all the art work I’ve collected, I’ll remember myself with the tanned legs and red lips, eating too much ice cream as I wandered the cobble-stone streets of the world. But I’ll also remember that lost girl brushing ants off her legs and averting her eyes from strangers who crossed her path as she sat on the banks of the Elbe River thinking about home and life as she watched the pinkness gradually fade from the Dresden sky.