To Those I Left Behind

As I rack up miles on this body of mine, I realize how many of you I’ve encountered in my wanderings. Some of you stayed for a while. Some of you just waved as you passed. Some of you knew you had to leave but made sure I found another companion before fading away.

The years changed me. And I tally those changes by the evolution of faces I looked into instead of mirrors. I picked you up like sea shells, memorizing your unique qualities. Then I’d either carry you for a while, hand you to someone else, or toss you back for the next person to find.

You are my ghosts, the friends I lost to time. You come to me in songs, worn clothing, and 3am recollections. I didn’t mean to let you go. I’m not the type of person to lose things. But somehow, I misplaced the most important things I could be given.

Some of you I intentionally shed, detouring my path for miles to get you off my trail. I was scared. I couldn’t tell if you were a wolf or a dog. And I’ve been bitten before.

I’ve been walking alone for a while now, staring up at the stars. I like knowing they’re the same ones you see.

It’s quiet here. And hard to tell if I’m moving forward sometimes or just retracing the same steps. But it’s given me time to reflect.

We’re not given many constants in life; it revolves like REM sleep cycles. Sometimes you wake up in the middle of it like from a nightmare, and you have to figure out how to face the dark surrounding you. Those are the moments I’m most thankful for you. Because you stopped to tell me that I was headed somewhere important. That I wasn’t just wandering aimlessly through thousands of grains of sand. And even though you couldn’t say where, you could see it in the distance when I couldn’t.

It makes me brave enough to keep going.

You didn’t owe it to me to stop. Or to ask my name. Or listen to my story. You could have chosen someone to walk with who knew the words to the fun camp songs or who had the better snacks. But you didn’t. And sometimes, now that I can look back, I wonder why.

I didn’t mean to leave you behind. I’m not sure exactly where it happened along the way. Now that I’ve realized what I lost, I promise to carry what you taught me. I’ll share your stories with the next person I meet along the way.

I guess I’m writing this to say I remember you fondly. Even if we parted on poor terms, I feel your abscence. And I’m thankful for your presence. I’m probably just a ghost to you now too, but thank you for letting me at least be that.

And if you were the one who left me behind, know that I’m okay. Missing you made me find other beautiful things. I’m not worse or better off. I’m just here, adapting to better weather the conditions of the road.