Our last day together was a fairly calm one—the only hiccup was that the bus we planned to take to the train station didn’t come on schedule, or at all. But we took overpriced taxis so it was alright in the end.
The train ride was pretty uneventful—the majority of us were too tired from our late night talks to carry on a good conversation.
We then took the subway as usual to the airport. Have I mentioned how beautiful and comfortable Taiwan makes all its public transportation areas?
Our seating for the plane was random, and it made me quite uncomfortable that I was sitting next to the friend I probably talked to the least. We had had a tumultuous on and off friendship—best friends one minute and then mortal enemies the next. I’d felt an unspoken indifference and sometimes iciness between us for the past two or three years, and here I was sitting next to her for a two hour plane ride.
But I was pleasantly surprised. We carried an engaging conversation for the entire plane ride, talking about literature, the future, and Korean boy bands. We solved riddles and played Zombie Tsunami. And it felt pretty amazing. In the few years I’d wasted being wary of her, I’d forgotten how much I loved her and how great our friendship could be. I was so glad that I sat next to her on the plane. I told her all of this a few weeks later and she told me to “ball up, you sap.” Yep, she’s pretty cool.
When we finally arrived at the airport, we went through all the standard procedures. Once we got all our bags, we gathered to take a group picture… and then got kicked out.
So we gathered outside the reception area and shooed away our parents for a final circle up. And all the crybabies like me started crying. I did not start it, but joined in quite quickly. Our non-crybaby friends said they felt bad but just didn’t feel like crying. Thus began the onslaught of hugs going around the circle. While hugging one of my friends goodbye I moved her to tears with a couple of heartfelt words. Then it was wet cheeks and silence as we took in each other’s company for the last time, and our parents whisked us away.
I cried all the way home but at the end of the day, it was an amazing experience. This was my first trip without any chaperones, planned completely by us, just my friends and me out exploring the world. We soaked in some culture, some rays, some friendship. Our isolation brought us so much closer together and gave us the opportunity to discover new things about each other and ourselves.
In the past two years I’d had a lot of problems with my friends, and we all felt our group fracturing. Taiwan changed all that. I talked to a friend of mine about it and he thought I was too optimistic, but this vacation was perfect. I finally remembered the reason we were all friends, and I finally realized how much I love them.