There is something really special about endings. They give you a sense of closure: a sigh at the end of a novel, the final tear at the end of a breakup, the bittersweet tossing of the cap at graduations.
In these moments, you feel you are on the edge of something new. You are saying goodbye yes, but you are also saying hello. You hope with all your being that it will top what you have done, that your experiences will be better, that you will be better.
It also affects your relationships. You hold on a little tighter when your friends hug you. You start memorizing their details, devouring their uniqueness with your eyes, your ears, your nose, taking in all their information. You think, "After February, I may never see this persona again. Andres at the coffee shop. Jocelyn. Kanke. Lua. Pollo."
You realize while you were trying all the while to leave your mark on the world, the world was happily leaving its mark on you.
Chile has made me different. Its strangers have trained me to be more confident moving through the city. I am now capable of uncovering its secret language (and shoving my body into the smallest spaces on the metro).
Those who became my friends have given me even more.
Pollo once said to me, "If there's one thing I hope for you, it's that when someone asks you, 'what did you learn in Chile' you answer 'I learned to love again.'"
I love when I see a punk boy helping an older woman with a cart up a flight of stairs. I love when I see a young couple in their own world on the bus. I love when I see my friends loving and making mistakes and getting up again. In the honk of horn, I hear hello...or goodbye...or both.
Lua, my roommate said to me that she wondered whether it was even worth it to make friends here, knowing that she was going to be leaving.
I think it is. It may be temporary. But the effects of that friendship are permanent. It is imprinted on who you become. You may never see them again, but you feel them in how you give more, hug longer, love harder, and live with wilder abandon.
They are my invisible tattoos.