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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Monday, February 26, 2024

Compost in the daylight: Goodbyes


This column was supposed to be a place where I could just write 500 words and work on my storytelling. In some ways, I think my storytelling has improved. In other ways, I think there were never enough words to change it concretely.

So, for this last one, I looked back on all the things I did not say.

I always send my mom the columns before they run, because she’s a writer and knows me well. For my second column, in which I went on about crying on buses, in typical mom fashion, she said she cried, too.

I left out a lot in that column, like specific names and all the other places I’ve cried at. Perhaps that’s better, because no one really wants to hear about how I walked down a Victorian promenade in Wales with gray tears streaming down my face to match the generally bleak atmosphere of the ghostly beach town extending all around me.

It's funny — 200 years ago, the Victorians would walk down those paths just to be seen. No one important really saw me. Perhaps that’s why I’ve stubbornly written down the past.

For my third column, in which I talked about the magical security of summer camp, my mom said I was too negative. Interestingly, she didn’t pull out that critique for my litany of crying places. She was right though. She told me to not be upset by the inherent loss of memories but instead ride them back to important pasts.

I curtly stated to my housemate after my mom’s comment, “Well, no one’s going to think this random happy girl’s life is interesting if there’s not a little conflict.” Maybe I’m too detached. I changed the column and tried to put my brother’s story about stealing a TV at the center.

For the echo column, she also said I was too negative — maudlin, even. Sad writing is especially bad when you forget not a single person in your audience has your context programmed in their brains.

In all honesty, I hated the princess column. I should’ve written about how the princesses ate this insane butter cabbage dish in Amsterdam. It was certainly more life-changing than the kumquats.

For the last one, my mom simplified the whole bat mitzvah story to me just being an embarrassed pre-teen. Maybe that’s a more universal theme than believing in the power of accidental blessings.

So, maybe everything I wrote was bad. And for all the things I didn’t say in the stories I chose, there were also completely different quotes on my notes app that didn’t make it to the page at all

There’s one quote from my professor that I wrote down: “If we have to say goodbye, then it is so.” This goodbye, though, which undoubtedly should be sad, sounded happy when he said it. Maybe I’ve got it all mixed up — the bad connotations and the good ones. We say goodbye to start something new. Surely, that’s a positive ending.