If something makes you the happiest person and the saddest person at the same time, that’s when it’s real. That’s when it’s worth something…

For me, it’s travel. Leaving my family and friends back home. Missing out the precious early years of my nephews lives. The constant, inevitable goodbyes. The time-bound moments. That grey space in between leaving ‘home’ and settling in a new place.

And then there’s the fast, intense friendships with people you meet. When I’m present in those moments, well… that’s a feeling that’s worth a million goodbyes.

It’s a life of extreme highs and lows. I’ve never felt more connected to new people than I have in New York. I’ve formed a friendship with a dynamic mix of personalities, but there’s one thing that connects us – our mindset.

Our conversations are filled with substance – chasing happiness, lost friendships, broken families, career confusion, heartbreak… and hope.

I believe that people come into your life for a reason. Strategically put on your life’s path to enrich your life. I was saying goodbye to two good friends I’ve made in NY. On the train ride home, I surprised myself. I started to tear up.

And in the midst of this cycle, the goodbyes again, life throws me a gift. Only ten minutes later I was sitting in a sushi shop eating dinner, lost in thought.

“Hey, how is it? I haven’t been here before,” I hear. I looked to my right to see a girl with cute, shoulder-length dark hair and smile dimples. ‘Sorry to bother you. You seem cool,’ she said, before I have a chance to reply.

That one sentence, that smile, was the start of a beautiful friendship. This spontaneous, meant-to-be moment didn’t just happen once.

I met Karla, my Chilean friend, on the street. Taylor, my Bushwick babe, on the subway. And Karen and Bettina, my favourite New Yorker and Austrian nomad, through a Facebook group.

Each one of them colour my New York chapter in the story of my life. They’re more than just friends. They’re songs, that drink, that place, that time – becoming a part of me, when these moments turn into memories.

This experience has reinforced what I’ve always believed – that time is not a factor in determining friendships. I’ve had stronger friendships with people I’ve known for two months than I have for 10-year friendships. Love and connection can happen instantly.

They say when one door shuts, another opens. But what if I’m not ready to walk through it? This world of travel, although somewhat temporary, brings permanent happiness.

I’m learning to look at these goodbyes not in sadness, but in appreciation.

As travellers, we become really good at keeping in touch with people. These friendships don’t have to be fleeting or have a time limit. There’s opportunity for us to keep them alive, with a little bit of effort. I’m accepting that it’s beautiful to have strong friendships all over the world and those memories will forever link us. The people we come across, however brief or lengthy, can change our lives in a major way.

We change their lives, too.

When we say goodbye, it’s not just to our friends, but the person we’ve become, too. New York has let out my playful side, reminding me that I can be anyone I want to. There’s nobody telling you to stop being you, supporting free expression. There’s something very liberating about the energy of the city. It’s hard not to embrace that.

But, like I tell myself whenever I leave a place that I don’t want to, I can come back. I will see those people again. And maybe that’s the beautiful part of this whole experience – you see things most others don’t by coming and going.

Maybe this is how to live. Take the extremes with grace, so we know what a full heart feels like. When you feel a heavy chest, in a moment that’s soon to end, keep on turning (and loving) each page. You’ve got to find out how the story ends.

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