You know how you dip your fingertip in hot water to test the heat or quickly touch a plate to check the temperature when someone says 'look out, this is hot"? I feel like I'm doing that with people. Good people. I'm just flitting around the country, temperature-checking lives, friendships and strangers-made-friends. My incredibly gracious host family this past week has magnified this feeling that I thought might ease with every hello, goodbye; like doing it again and again would get me used to the idea.
But, it doesn't get easier. I now have this amazing collection of vagabond friends. People that are near and great and different and fun, whose lives I drive into, get to know and then drive out of as quick as it came. In a way, it makes me happy to know so many, but in a way, it makes me sad. I know I'll likely never seen many of them again, but I just lie to myself that we'll totally all keep in touch, though I realize this is unlikely - and perhaps even impossible - to happen.
I want to bottle the people and keep them in one place. I want this vast collection of friends - new and old - to remain part of my life even after I leave. Because it's too fucking interesting to get to know so many people in so many different places and ages and phases of their lives not to grow and attachment to them as individuals and as a collective, awesome whole.
I've become that weird person that sneaks out while everyone is asleep, or away. I've become that idiot that says goodbye as they walk backwards, still farting out those last few words just to extend the connection a few seconds longer.
Then off I go to my next destination. I know each encounter is burned into my everything. People as become as much - if not more - of a part of this adventure as the places I have been. These conversations over waffles in a cheap hotel lobby are meaningful, these amazing people that offer this stranger their extra bed are amazing. And I'm thinking: I wonder if they'll remember me too?
Because a memory is likely all that we'll ever have to last our fleeting encounter, but these connections are greater than any photo of a mountain. Or any bucket l ist item checked done. It's hard to walk away, but perhaps that because they mean something to me; each have carved a tiny spot in my heard that is forever theirs for being part of this journey with me; for supporting my dreams having barely known me (as well as the ones back east already emblazoned). The exits just get harder as I collect more spots, but the spots glisten and fulfill. So I guess I'll just keep walking out backwards and garbling out goodbyes.