So Long, Farewell (Leaving Chicago)

I can’t believe I disappeared off the face of my blog for two weeks. I told myself I would update my readers as soon as it hit be that I graduated college- except it never did. It still feels like nothing to me. Graduation felt like any other day. Sadly.

But at last, I have pushed myself to write! About all the goodbyes I had to make- are you excited Paul? It’s the Series Finale!!!

2 weeks ago June 13th:

Let me be the first to say, I don’t really believe in “see you laters”. Leaving places, was something built into me by birth. I lived in 3 countries, 4 states, and countless cities. Goodbyes are nothing new. Most of the the people I left or left me, I’ve never seen them again. You would think I’m used to it by now.

Except I’m not. Goodbyes were ALWAYS tough for me. I cry, I whine, I pray- that I will one day see my people again. Whether they be friends, family, lovers, teachers, coaches, mentors, the lovely Dunkin Donuts barista- yes.

Chicago was no exception.

I lived in Chicago for 12 years. Some of the worst things in my life happened to me in Chicago, I looked forward to the day I would “escape”. When my family left a few years ago, I was sad. I sat in my home and cried.

But on June 13th, as I packed up my bags in my little apartment without my family- I cried again. I cried because I realized although some really awful things happened to me in Chicago, some of the best things happened to me in Chicago.

Heck my last week of undergrad showed me that. Graduating from such a great university with a BS in Health Sciences and minor in Psychology (oh how close I was to graduating with honors!), winning the “Outstanding Leader” award at the graduating senior ceremony and getting a plaque with my name on it commending me for being a “gifted teacher” and “servant leader”, my internship I received at Northwestern University my junior year teaching gifted kids Chemistry and Physics, volunteering at the YMCA in the West Side of Chicago and teaching my 1st-5th graders…

Everything I ever wanted to accomplish in life, Chicago gave me the opportunity to do that. And I could not have done it without the amazing people that helped guide me.

The goodbyes continued that Monday.

I already said over 30 goodbyes the week before, but I still had a lot of last minute ones. I was so exhausted from all the graduation festivities and my family being in town, but I had to go say my goodbyes.

First up, my girls at the YMCA. Crap this was going to be hard. I bring them all lollipops and we all sit together for a while.

“So you’re never coming back, Shaz?” one of my 4th graders ask.

I take a deep breath in. These girls have been my little friends for four years. I feel heartless for leaving them. So many people have walked out of their lives.

“I mean. Maybe. If I get a job here in two years, I might” I say.

“NOOOO! No maybe’s!” she says flinging herself onto me. The other girls join in.

“Okay, okay. Girls-” I say. “There are going to be so many wonderful volunteers that come here for the rest of your school career. You will love them as much as you love me” I say.

“Yea right. Ain’t nobody understand us like you” one says taking the lollipop out of her mouth.

Everyone stays quiet. I swallow. “Do you guys have an email address?” I say. They were young but it was worth a shot.

All of them say no, but they all have a Google hangout and know how to use it so I give them my info.

“Now you guys can ALWAYS talk to me. And I’ll be there” I say.

They all agree that we could do that and finally, it was time for me to leave. At that moment one of my 2nd graders who I have known since she was maybe 4 or 5 runs over to me from her class.

“Miss Shaz!!!!” she grabs onto my leg.

“Oh my god G! I’m leaving today, you know this right?”

She looks at me with her innocent, big, brown eyes. “What?” she says in a small voice.

Lord help me. I shouldn’t play favorites but G was like my favorite. When she was 5, I was helping her with her homework, and she quietly said- “Excuse me. Your bra-strap is showing.” I have loved her ever since ❤

I get down to her. “I’m leaving. But hey, I gave everyone my contact. They can teach you how to reach me” I say.

She still looks at me with her big beautiful bug eyes. I reach into my purse, “Hey I brought you a goodbye gift!” I say. I give her a blue raspberry lollipop, that I saved just for her.

Her eyes widen and she smiles big. “YAY!!!!!” she sreams. And then she hugs me big. And then runs away to tell her friends. I laugh to myself. If only saying goodbye to everyone was this easy. How easy would it be to give/receive a lollipop and forget the pain of saying goodbye?

I finish saying goodbye to my older girls. As I walk out, I hear one of the girls say to her teachers, “I’m gonna miss her”.

I feel my heart shatter. And then it shatters even more when the teachers responds, “Yea me too. What can ya do.”

When I get back to my apartment, I have my next set of goodbyes- 2 of my best friends since freshman year. I decide we need to do something fun as the last goodbye was emotional.

As I get ready, I stare out my window. At my beautiful skyline view. It was so beautiful. I take a snap-chat saying “When you reach your last 2 days in your favorite city”.

I send it to all my friends and everyone responds including PRINCE PLAYER :0 He asks what I’m doing later that night. I tell him I’m going out but I’ll be back soon as I really need to pack my things.

He doesn’t respond. So I go on with my activities. My friends and I eat some amazing pizza, dance, and sing. When it’s time to say goodbye, one of them is about to cry.

“Don’t do it…” I say.

“Oh my god Shaz! What the heck! How can you expect me not to?” she says.

I shake some sense to her. “Girl! You’re from Rhode Island. I’m coming to the East Coast. We can visit each other!!!” I tell her.

She stops. And her eyes widen. “Holy shit. You are so right. Okay” she says.

We all laugh and go our separate ways.

When I get home and realize I still have not gotten a response from player, I tell him “I will be free tomorrow as well”. He responds saying he was tired from graduation and his family being in town (like me!) and I tell him I totally understand. And we agree that tomorrow would be better for us and we’ll decide later what time.

I go to sleep and wonder what our goodbye and everyone else’s goodbye will be like Tuesday.

Tuesday June 14th

First up, the Center for Cultural Programs on campus. They funded my club this year, and the new Associate Director was an amazing mentor to me always checking up on my well-being.

“Oh hey what are you doing here?” the lead Director asks as she was doing some paper work with the office receptionist. The Associate Director comes out with a sad look on his face, “she’s here to say goodbye!”

“You’re kidding! It seems like just yesterday you walked in and changed our community by storm!” the lead Director says.

She gives me a hug and asks me about my plans. I tell her about Boston and she wishes me the best.

The Associate Director grabs his wallet and looks at me. “Hey. Shahz. You hungry?”

I nod, I was in for a long day of goodbyes.

He tells everyone he’ll be back and walks me out of the office. “I’m taking you to Glazed and Infused! My treat! What do you say?”

My eyes widen. I love Glazed and Infused. I will miss that so much.

I laugh and tell him. I also say I should be treating him on account of how much he has been there for my club and me personally.

He shrugs it off. “No way. We are losing someone special. My treat”.

I look at him and smile. Man these goodbyes are not easy. We reach Glazed and Infused and he buys me my favorite red-velvet donut and a black coffee. We take a walk around the neighborhood eating our donuts and I tell him how sad I am. He assures me I can continue to be active and thrive in Boston and gives me tips.

And finally as we reach campus, it’s time to say goodbye. He gives me a big hug and tells me to always update him on what I’m doing in Boston. I tell him I definitely will.

As I walk home, I get a text from player asking when I will be free. I think about how many more people I have to see and calls I have to make. My last in person goodbye before him is with my mentor who gets off work at 5. Which means I’ll see him at 5:30, which means our goodbye will take about an hour and a half or so. Which means I’ll be free at 7. So I tell player.

When I reach my apartment, it’s time for my first visitor. Yasmeen. Yasmeen is taking over my club next year, she was a former student of mine but I see her as a little sister. Her arms open wide as soon as she sees me “I can’t believe you’re leaving us!” she says.

I shake my head. “Don’t make this hard for me. You know how I feel about goodbyes!” I tell her.

She nods and I get her some chai and cookies.

We talk so much about school (we’re both Health Sciences majors), our clubs, and everything else. She randomly pulls out a “gift” for me. I knew she had a gift for me, she had been teasing me with pictures, but I never got to see it.

I pull it out of the gift bag. My jaw drops. It’s a book!!! Yasmeen made a book of me. She made a book of pictures of me and quotes I have posted on this blog. A book of my entire college journey!

I put the book down when I’m finished. “What the fuck I told you not to make this hard for me” I tell her as I hug her.

“Stopppp. This wasn’t supposed to make you sad” she says laughing.

I hold the book to my chest and hug her. It’s time to say goodbye.

“Okay now I’m going to cry” she says with her eyes welling up.

“No don’t. We’ll see each other again. You’ll go to Boston for your Master’s!” I say.

“Deal” she says. We hug and say goodbye.

I look at my watch. It’s 3 and I have a bit more time before I meet with my mentor. I go to my best friend Irv’s creperie.

“Oh hey, look who’s here” he says when I walk in.

I plop down in a chair. “I came to say bye Irv”.

He wipes his hand and sits down next to me.

“Yea you’re going to Boston. Why the fuck are you leaving us Shaz?” he asks patting me.

“A girl’s got dreams Irv!” I tell him.

“Wait here” he says.

I see him making me a crepe. “Oh my god are you making me a crepe? Irv, you really don’t-” I begin.

“Shhh. Shaz. It’s a goodbye gift!” he says.

I smile at him. He brings me a nutella crepe. I stare it.

“What?” he asks smiling.

“My last day in Chicago. And you spoil me” I say laughing.

“As you should be” he says.

I laugh even more. “Remember the last time you came in here. You were pissed about some guy that called you a princess?” he says laughing.

I almost choke on my crepe. ‘Prince Player’. I laugh. “Yea I’m seeing him tonight” I say.

“He doesn’t deserve you” he says laughing and going to make another crepe for another customer.

“I don’t deserve him either!” I shout back.

He sits down a few minutes later. “You think it’s gonna be hard saying bye to him?” he asks.

“You have no freakin clue. It’s hard saying bye to everyone. Tumblr-goodbye-sad-quoteI couldn’t even make it up to the suburbs cuz I knew those goodbyes would hurt like hell. Hell it’s hard even saying bye to you!” I say grabbing his arm.

Irv tells me have Snapchat and texting and Facebook so it will be okay. I agree and realize time is flying and I need to see my mentor soon. So I tell Irv goodbye.

Our hug is so sad. He is tall and my face crushes his chest. “Bye Shaz. I hope you get everything you ever wanted at Boston” he says.

I let go and sigh. I hope so too. “Let me know how this business is going. So freakin proud of you. Honestly”.

We say a few more parting words and I’m out.

My next few goodbyes would be the hardest.

(to be continued)

xoxo. S.


2 thoughts on “So Long, Farewell (Leaving Chicago)

  1. “So you’re never coming back?” Man I’ve had kids at camp say that to me too, or at least a variation of it. So tough doing that to them. Fortunately these kids have instagram (It’s less weird when I don’t type it out). So many memories of my goodbyes came back to me through this whole post. It was like one punch to the stomach after another on the final day. And then you mentioned June 14…that was the day I graduated. Shaz, we’re living parallel lives in a weird twisted way.

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