97: The Best Kind of Farewell

97: The Best Kind of Farewell

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Teens Talk Getting In...To College

The Best Kind of Farewell

Don’t be dismayed at goodbyes. A farewell is necessary before you can meet again. And meeting again, after moments or lifetime, is certain for those who are friends.

~Richard Bach

My best friends and I had been waiting for the evening to come, putting it off in our heads until the last possible moment, when it was inevitable that we’d have to say goodbye. Of course, that inevitability didn’t stop us from tiptoeing around the situation with the sneakiness we had probably learned together in high school. It was there that we became close, going to the Chinese buffet during lunch hour, driving in each other’s cars to no particular destination, and skillfully mastering the art of cutting class whenever a substitute teacher was present.

Our last summer together was filled with late nights at house parties, day trips to Belmar Beach, and obsessing over the impending separation that we would undergo as a group at the end of August. And it was now apparent that our time together was indeed drawing to a close—not forever, but until our first Thanksgiving break as college freshmen, a long, scary, three months away. It seemed as if every clichéd high school movie was suddenly coming true. Visions of tearful goodbyes and overloaded minivans driving into the unknown future played over and over in my dreams. It was all becoming real, and it was all very dramatic.

Instead of getting pizza from our favorite place, where the owners greeted us by name, we made reservations for a tiny, stuffy, and highly priced bistro. As we picked at our fifteen-dollar salads, we felt forced to muffle our exclamations and hold back our normally boisterous conversation. The girls wore dresses, and the guys wore khakis and button-up shirts, signifying the importance of the occasion.

As we conformed to the staid ambiance of the restaurant, it was evident that our quest for closure had not succeeded. There was no sense of normalcy, little spontaneity, and certainly not enough laughs. In fact, sitting in the cramped restaurant, surrounded by chandeliers and paintings of Rome, it became difficult to conjure up any conversation at all. We found ourselves quiet for the first time in four years.

As the evening drew to a close, it was apparent that we were unfulfilled, so we remedied the situation in the best way possible. Though we could try to mask our anxiety through tablecloths and impeccable service, it wasn’t what any of us wanted. For the past year or so, we had resolved that someday we would watch The Big Lebowski while drinking milk shakes along with the title character. Though many of our other similar goals had been fulfilled throughout senior and that summer, this was one we hadn’t yet carried out. Of course, our last night was the perfect time to complete this final mission. After our disastrous dinner, we went to the video store to pick up the movie and then to the grocery store.

We had gone to the nearby grocery store countless times in the past, purchasing a breadth of items for strange uses. We often did this, buying supplies for the night and settling in to stay at Jenny’s house until daybreak. Setting out our final evening, planning to buy only ice cream and milk, we somehow managed to return to Jenny’s house with these ingredients, as well as a jumbo-sized bag of Milky Way bars, way too many flavors of ice cream, and an assortment of plastic martini glasses in outrageous, neon colors, procured for ninety-nine cents each.

Setting up shop in her familiar, messy basement, we poured our drinks into the bright stemware, played some ping pong, and turned on the stereo. Eventually, we decided to start the movie, but didn’t really pay much attention to it. Whenever we sprawled ourselves on the blue couch in Jenny’s basement to watch a movie, we never could summarize the plot by the end, let alone recall the names of the lead characters. We had far more fun joking, gossiping, and doing whatever we did, with the movie as a mere excuse for structured activity.

Even though we had no expensive meal in front of us and even though we had changed into shorts and T-shirts, this was our real, formal, farewell. As the movie progressed, I looked around at my friends and smiled. This was what we wanted, and this was what we really needed, I thought. Sometimes the moments devoid of anything special are the ones that truly mean the most.

~Oren Margolis

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