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What to Do Before Leaving Your Friends (and Music Students)

Grace's going away party
I’ve become intrigued about leaving the place called home. At what point does the homesickness kick in?

My piano student, Kayla, has been with me for years. I’ve never been a big-party kind of girl but I wanted to see my friends and everyone that mattered before I left.

“I’ll plan your going away party,” my sister said.

“Really?” I said. “I want it by the beach.”

Thirty-odd people came, and everything I thought mattered did not matter. The weather, for example– we packed tarps and considered moving the party to Sunday because of the weather reports.

“The last time I checked, we don’t melt under rain,” Julie said.

But it turned out to be perfect.

Also, the food. I reminded myself that I was there to enjoy the party, not produce it. My friend brought his tiny bbq and feeding thirty people took 3 hours; we’d just be full by dinner time so we cancelled our dinner reservations.

I thumbed through the playlist and my sister had One Direction, so of course I mixed in my favourites, like Escape (Rupert Holmes  – piano sheet music). We make fun of One Direction but I have a tolerance for Zayn that I can discuss now that he’s gone (that twisted strand of hair on the forehead is a classic). The music was playing from my sister’s phone and she disconnected it to make a call for a while and I forgot to worry about the music.

My friend Mathieu says you can program a Raspberry Pi so your friends can add songs to the Spotify playlist from their phones without getting the app. It’s a tiny computer to tinker with. Maybe music students can record practice clips on their phones and it’ll randomly forward to another music student, like a motivational, musical snapchat.

After the beach, I had a shot. The group took like half an hour deciding what it was going to be, until Spence got me tequila and it burned, and we played pool, and it was fabulous.

Some people were bums and couldn’t make the beach, or were late to the 7 hour party, and Maria even hung up on me by accident on the way home and I didn’t get to hug her goodbye. I pinky-promised Flor Anne we’d see each other again before leaving and so I made Marinah pinky-promise the same.

Then I went home and couldn’t sleep— seeing everyone made me realize how much I’m going to miss them, and then I didn’t feel like going to Hong Kong anymore. Every time I’m stuck, I can call a friend here, but who am I going to call in Hong Kong? Now, when I lose my passport, David will probably be asleep.

At 3:30am, I asked Kat in Australia for a story about Australian boys and she told me that koalas down under would scratch your eyes out. Then Spence reassured me that I’d make friends in Hong Kong because he hadn’t heard anything offensive come out of my mouth.

“I’m going to Asia,” I say. “If you like, I can refer you to a great teacher.”

My piano student shuts her books beside her mother. I’d told them about this last month (the last possible socially acceptable moment) because I didn’t know how to say goodbye to a student I’ve taught for years.

“Are you coming back?” Kayla’s mother asks.

“Yes,” I say. “In six months.”

“Then we’ll wait for you,” she says.

I have met fantastic people this summer and each of them have helped me grow. Some people I won’t see for months, others for years. And so many people have told me they’ll be right here when I return. That’s reassuring, as if I’ll return to Vancouver the way I left it and the important things will still be here. I loved spending that last day with the very people I could never forget, no matter how dazzling Asia turns out to be.

I am so thankful that we got to meet and do interesting things, and even have lawyers email us about applying for patents, which I had never dreamed of doing this summer.

There is so much paperwork.

It’s such a relief that there are people on this earth who will remember that we exist, when we are gone. Because goodbye is not forever; it just means, see you later.


Photo above: Enjoying the sunset with a small bunch at my going away party. Thanks, Mathieu, for the photo.

Below: The amazing team I worked with at Microsoft this summer.

Microsoft Team

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8 years ago

My BBQ ain’t that small!