Tonight is my last night in Kingston. I’ve said good byes and packed up my things, and now, save for one more sleep and a few last minute chores, I am done here. Tomorrow I will make one last trek to Treasure Beach with my sister for a few days of beach fun and relaxation before I board the plane home on Sunday. 

I am not one who struggles with good byes. I don’t know exactly when it was, but I learned a long time ago that nothing stays the same for long; it is a truth of life that can make any difficult situation easier to bear, and one that eases the tragedy of a good thing too soon over. I am an optimist and a planner, traits that help me look forward with eagerness, even when it means something good is ending. I am comfortable with the bittersweet contradiction of being simultaneously sad to finish and happy to begin.

I’m not, however, great with deadlines. I like to polish and refine and keep picking at things until the whole thing changes and has to be started over. It makes me great at continual improvement and terrible at stopping something that feels to me half-baked. When it comes to endings and beginnings, to me the best ones are the ones that happen organically, while the worst ones are those that happen abruptly, or with arbitrary parameters that have nothing to do with quality or completion.

I’ve been in Kingston one year less 2 days. I have known since January 2016 that I would have to finish this adventure in 365 days (give or take a few for flight-booking convenience), regardless of how great or terrible it went. Nevertheless, that hasn’t stopped me from working right up to the last moments of my last day at the YMCA, nor from carrying some ideas with me to polish up and send to my Cuso and YMCA colleagues in the coming weeks.

Each time I notice that something is “the last”, I try to take a moment and really soak it in. But the truth is that these places, smells, tastes, and people can’t be enjoyed or appreciated in one stand-alone, mindful moment. Their impact happened, and continues to happen, in time, over time. I’ve been grateful to have my sister here these past few days as it has given me a chance to relive some great (and some difficult) memories, revisit some special places, things, people, and food one last time, and appreciate each thing through the eyes of a newcomer in a way that helps me see how far I have come.

And so, I am sad to leave and happy to go. I am disappointed in all there is left to do and excited about what comes next. My time might be up, but I am not done. I have a feeling this ending is only the beginning…