Sunday, May 13, 2012

breaking up is hard to do

I woke up this morning and came to the sad realization that I would be waking up in Charleston (as a student/transfer-South Carolinian/Charlestonian) for the last time.  I graduated yesterday, and while that fills me with pride in my accomplishments and excitement about starting the next chapter of my life, it has also plagued me with sadness and nostalgia.

I have said goodbye to a lot of people I love and "see you later" to the ones who can never be rid of me,  but I am still grievously sad (as anyone within 40 feet of me can attest - I have cried a lot this week).  Why am I so sad though? This is the beginning of something new, even though it means the end of something beloved.   And then I realized why I am so weepy:

I am breaking up with Charleston.
I took this picture at Freshman Orientation, Summer 2008 :)

I once joked on Facebook that I was "in a relationship with the city of Charleston" and "it's complicated."  Complicated because so many people are in the same relationship, I think. Or because in the summer it gets really hot and smells like garbage and/or fish. Sometimes it's hard to love that. But I did.

In the summer I would joke that I was "in a long-distance relationship with the city of Charleston."   I would start to have dreams about just walking the streets, I missed it so much.  And then a month would go by and it would be time to move back. And I would roll down the windows as we drove into the city and say "it smells like beach" and smile.  And I would unpack and take a walk around the city, wishing on several occasions that it were possible to give the city a BIG I-missed-you hug.  (I had to settle for a lamppost. There was gum on it...)

I haven't experienced very many break-ups, and they have never been too devastating, and I think that's because I have never truly been in love.  Until I moved to Charleston.

I know it's a break-up (and that's why I am so inconsolably sad) because:
  • Every song is about us.   (me and Charleston, that is.)  Driving home from my parents' hotel room the other night, I heard two songs on the radio and I wanted to cry.  These are songs that I have heard millions of times before and on the surface have nothing to do with graduating or leaving or anything really. They were:
    • Hold on Loosely - 38 Special   "usually it's too late when you/ realize what you had/ so hold on loosely/and don't let go...etc."
    • Mr. Jones - Counting Crows  "when everybody loves you/ you can never be lonely"
    • thank goodness I didn't hear the Cheers theme or James Taylor or "How Far We've Come" or something otherwise reminisce-y.  Looking at these lyrics now, it seems really stupid, but the other night these songs were about meeee.  And that's how I know it's a break-up. Because I am acting crazy.
  • When people say "you can still come visit!"  what I hear is "we can still be friends...."  Visiting is such a hollow mockery of our relationship it makes me sad to think about it. I will always belong here, but I won't belong to Charleston the same way ever again.
  • I know that this is "for the best" but I don't care. We will both go on to grow and flourish. But I am allowed to be sad about something wonderful ending. So damn it, I will be sad. 
So goodbye, Charleston.

It sucks to leave you.  I will always have a HUGE place in my heart for you and for the College and all the wonderful people I met as a happy consequence of moving here four years ago.  I will miss you. I will miss the Farmer's Market and praline samples and Charleston Christmas traditions and nuns and church bells and crooked streets and lampposts covered in gum and old houses and boarded-up fireplaces and seagulls and the Cooper River Bridge and horse-drawn carriages and alleyways and the Battery and bicycles and the best cupcakes I will ever eat. I will probably never stop dreaming about walking these streets with the people I love.
Stay beautiful, Charleston.  I will be back to visit (we can still be friends).

I've cried a lot about leaving here, but this morning when I looked out my window I knew it was never a one-sided relationship:  Charleston was crying too.


  1. WEIRD!!! Sean came down for breakfast, looked outside and said Charleston is cring for Claire. Wonder-twins you are.


  2. :'(

    Please write for Thought Catalog.