When planning out all the emotional highs I’d experience during a year of outdoor exploration, climbing, and living in a van, I forgot to calculate for one very important factor: the pain of saying goodbye.
I don’t do goodbyes. I often just avoid them, replacing the finality of a farewell with the ambiguity of a more hopeful “see you later!” Let’s face it: Goodbyes just suck. No matter how you slice or dice it, there is nothing fun about leaving what you love.
Last weekend, Niko and I drove down to Miami for one final week of boating, fresh seafood, sleeping in hammocks on my patio, and the best send-off party a gal could ever imagine. Our climber buddies McGoo and Bo joined us for the weekend, and I was surprised by a visit from my not-really-Uncle John, who flew in from New York for the festivities.
As much as I gripe about Miami, its ferocious drivers, and the bad attitude that radiates from the core of the city, I am going to miss my hometown more than I expected. We hit up all my favorite foodie spots during the week, including empanadas and café con leches from Ruben’s Cuban, fresh conch fritters and a Miami Vice (with an extra rum shooter, of course) from Monty’s Raw Bar in Coconut Grove, and divine sushi from Sea Siam.
I bid farewell to my family’s boat with one last outing on the bay. The weather was less than favorable, so we cruised up the Miami River to avoid any gusty winds or rocky seas. We toasted with beer and whiskey, docked along the river for fried calamari and oysters at Casa Blanca’s, and eventually made our way back to Matheson Hammock Marina.
The highlight of the trip was the enormous going-away party my parents threw the night before we hit the road. An unlikely cacophony of neighbors, family, childhood friends, co-workers, and college cohorts converged upon the Boué abode for a wild evening. There was a lot of gin, beer, wine, and merrymaking.
Niko gets 100+ boyfriend points for being such a good sport during the party. My entire family came out for the celebration, which means he had the insane experience of meeting 40+ crazy Cubans in one shot. He totally endured multiple “if you don’t take care of her, we will kill you” conversations, haha!
My three best college friends even drove from Key West, Tampa, and Cocoa Beach to come surprise me at my party. It was such a great surprise, I haven’t seen those ladies in years!
We parked the van out in the backyard where we usually store the boat, and I lit it up with a few extra candles – it was totally the star of the show. I felt like a tour guide showing partygoers around in my little mobile home.
In the morning, I postponed my true goodbyes for as long as possible, and finally bid a teary “see you later,” to my family, and my pup rusty. No way around it, it sucked. It was hard pulling away from my house, it was hard passing by all my favorite trees on the way out of Miami, it was hard to accept that I’m not coming back for at least a year.