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I don’t have photographs of any of the most beautiful moments of my life. At the time, I either didn’t have a camera or didn’t believe I should take a photo of that moment or both. Now all I have are beautiful memories, beautiful photographs in my head of you looking at sunlight reflecting off a lake or you laughing at me or her and him and me creating a semi-circle of friendship in the middle of a smattering of drunk people at a party. Sometimes I wish I had pictures of those moments. Sometimes I understand why other people want to take pictures of everything, every moment. But there’s only so much storage space on an SD card, only so much room on the walls of your home or bedroom or staircase to hang photographs. Memories blur and fade but they can still be much more powerful than any attempt a camera or photographer can make at recording a moment in time.

And maybe in a year I won’t remember what it was like to watch you watch the sunrise. Maybe I’ll forget what my feet looked like and felt like covered in dirt and sand from Lake Huron after a long day of shoe-less trekking. I’ll forget, and you’ll forget, and my children or great-grandchildren will never see the photograph that I hung only on the walls of my mind.

But so many other moments have been forgotten. Cemeteries are full of those who watched the sun rise and set over the centuries; full of people who didn’t feel the need to snap a picture or open Instagram to capture something they felt was beautiful or important. They just lived it, just watched, just appreciated the moment and let it slip, keeping that photograph in their mind until another moment took its place.

There is a very specific conversation I’ve had before with people I loved or cared about at the time, or with people I had wanted to love or care about in the future, when they were leaving, or when I was leaving (but usually the former), leaving for good, and I’d have this conversation knowing I’d never see them again or speak to them again, etc.┬áIt’s only happened a few times, this conversation, maybe only twice that I can remember clearly. Once was in second grade, when the girl I called my best friend moved to West Virginia, and I knew I would never see her again, even though I wrote down her new address on a scrap of paper I then proceeded to lose, and now I’ve lost everything of her: her name, her face, and her address.

The second time was many years later, in High School, with the boy I (secretly) called my boyfriend, that someone else would call my crush; a strange friend-like-but-not-friend-like relationship. Relationships get more complicated as you get older, but the simple moments of leaving stay simple and stay with you. He was just changing schools, but I knew that our strange fragile relationship wouldn’t last, wouldn’t survive the separation. I knew I would never see him again, and I told him so in our very last conversation, and though he denied it, though he said we’d see each other again, hang out, talk, go places, we didn’t, we never did, we never have, we never will.

I feel another of these conversations approaching, but I feel like the next one will be different, possibly won’t include a conversation at all, and it might be directed at or include the city I live in, was born in, have spent most of my life in, as well as all of the people I’ve ever met, or seen, or spoken to on the streets of my childhood neighborhood, in the state and region and road I grew up in and on and around. I’m leaving, moving, growing up and taking off, and saying goodbye to people and places, or maybe not saying goodbye at all, maybe just thinking back, reflecting, taking it all in once more as someone drives me to the airport, or as I cross the state line in my little black sports car, trunk full of belongings which will be my material memories of this place I’ve been in for so long. And maybe it’ll be different this time, this goodbye will be different than all the rest, won’t be for forever; we’ll still have holidays, and funerals, and maybe a couple months in a few years if I lose my job and my apartment and move back home for a while. I won’t lose everything from this relationship, although the faces will fade, and I might get lost on the side streets next time I drive on them.