Despedida

Carlos Quiapo
3 min readApr 17, 2022

I sent off three friends this week alone.

I thought I would have been desensitized to their departures by now. After all, it now feels like the standard to my relationships with people here— an inevitable deadline just looming, hovering over friends and lovers. A time bomb. Every last moment collected as though they were tokens of war. And then off to the next one.

When I moved here, people told me that people will come and go. I didn’t really have the inclination to worry about it then because I, too, had assumed that I would be leaving after my brief stint here. I told myself I’ll stay for three years, then off to the next big adventure.

That was seven years ago.

I haven’t gotten used to the pain of saying goodbye. Although I have become better when it comes to hiding it, pretending that it has now become a standard protocol for when friends leave.

But I do remember all of it. The sting that comes with it. The rush and adrenaline before the final send off. The irony of relief at the very last moment because you no longer have to worry about the deadline anymore. All in one fleeting moment. Then grief that you just learn to live with.

It’s easier to admit I haven’t moved on from them. Some of them were lovers I thought I could share a lifetime with. Some of them were friends who knew me better than even myself. But that’s what scares me more — that I might move on and that I might forget how it feels to say goodbye.

I want to remember it so as to not reduce the goodbye to a single moment of pain that I could heal from. After all, it’s the last one I have with them.

My first goodbye was to a lover. From the beginning, we knew there was going to be a deadline. I remember the last morning together, the last coffee at St. Mark’s, the awkward train ride to Narita, and the faded blue t-shirt he was wearing. That was six years ago.

I remember the exact moment another lover told me they got the job in New York. It was a Friday on the Chuo Rapid Line. Mitaka station. He was seated, I was standing in front of him. We were quiet. The last time I saw him was at the lobby of his building. Black t-shirt. 17:43.

Last summer, I remember breaking down inside an elevator after saying goodbye to one of my best friends here. She had three tequila shots. Before that, we spent the afternoon together preparing for her send-off dinner. I remember that taxi ride by myself back home.

I remember crying at 11 in the morning while having breakfast because another best friend told me she is likely moving to the UK this year. The flashback that came with it — we’ve never been away from each other since 2010. The fear of having new life stories where she wouldn’t be a part of anymore.

I remember having dinner with three friends, and all of them dropping the bomb that they were all leaving sometime this year. I remember quickly going to the bathroom to breathe, to think about my next move. I remember pretending to prepare food in the kitchen to process what they had just told me.

My mistake wasn’t staying; my mistake was forcing myself to get used to it. I had thought that the more friends I say goodbye to, the less painful it would become. I thought that maybe if I pretend to care less, it would have been easier for them. I can only imagine the guilt of being the one on the other side of the fence.

But I do not want to get desensitized to people leaving. I don’t want to forget how these little life changes have forced me to be more human and a better friend. I want to feel it. I want to relieve that exact moment when I close my eyes while turning my back away from them — a habit I have developed — one last time.

I want to remember it so as to not reduce the goodbye to a single moment of pain that I could heal from. After all, it’s the last one I have with them.

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Carlos Quiapo

capricorn love child of friedrich nietzsche and ariana grande.