Every time you close the door behind you with your carry-on bags and
overweight plans, I have to take my own hand, sit myself down, remind
myself not to worry. Remind myself that for 27 years I learned how
to be alone, was really, really good at being alone, mastered how
to be alone. Remind myself that there is a pile of books I haven’t
read, a queue of movies I haven’t watched, a lonely box from my
old apartment I still haven’t unpacked. Maybe I can order a whole
pizza for myself, or maybe I can make dinner, something fresh and
green and right; maybe I can have friends over. Maybe I can talk
to people I haven’t spoken to in years, ask them how often they
feel lonely, and whether or not they think that will ever go away.
Maybe I can pack my own bag and go off on my own adventure
while you are busy with yours, maybe I can tell myself that although
fun isn’t my strongest suit I am reliable, and trustworthy, and I know
how to take care of myself. 27 years of practice, a steady hum
of progress—there are things you don’t leave behind.

And there are things you do. There are things that no longer work
like they used to, things whose mistakes have caught up with them,
things that are bursting at the seams with hurt. Sometimes I ask myself
why I let the pile of books grow in the first place, why I can’t sit still
through movies alone anymore, what the contents of that lonely box are.
There are goodbyes that break you and goodbyes that shape you, but
there are also goodbyes that do nothing except make room. Space. Empty
out parts that have been too full for too long.

But know this: every time you come back with your eyes dancing and
your skin burning and your stories a tangled mess, announcing your
return with three swift knocks as certain as your place in the world,
your place in my world, I will take your hand, sit you down, remind
you that you are home now, remind you that you can stay.