How Selfish Is "I Miss You?"

This post was contributed by Carla Abreu.

When I know (when I think) you must feel it too?

We’ve all been there: you’re 35,000 feet up in the air, thousands of miles away from home, sitting back helplessly—eyes closed—as your heart sinks into your stomach. Excited for what will be another inexplicable trip, yet anxious to live a new life you can never fully share with those back home.

*bright light, buzz* “I miss you already.”

It’s your mom, it’s your best friend. Hell, it’s someone you barely talk to who just found out you’re leaving. You smile.

But their name never lights up your screen. No grand message, no call cut off by a tired flight attendant, just the last words you two muttered about (Paris) being far away echoing in your head.

“I miss you too, mom. And I’ll be home soon!”

The response is easy because it’s true. But you know (as best as you can) that she’ll be there when you return, that she’ll love you just the same.

It’s harder when it’s uncertain. It’s harder when the pain has been building up for weeks. You’re past the point of “I miss you.” Now you’re at: “I’m scared that you’ll disappear.” You’re a hypocrite too as you fade into the clouds.

We talk a big game as travelers. Live life to the fullest! Don’t hold back! But is it selfish? To leave someone, to know their pain, and to still say “I miss you” as if it’ll make some months away—months away that you chose—any easier? You don’t want to make things harder for those back home.

Regrets conveyed over text never seem to help anyone.

That traveler’s urgency to live boldly contradicts my questions. It’s cruel to hold back. People deserve to know the truth. Say “I miss you” whether or not it’ll ruin everything. Say it even when you don’t know if you’re missed in return. Say it no matter what pain it’ll bring you or them—at the very least it’s true.

You’re probably tired of yet another Call Me by Your Name reference, but bear with me. Elio reads a love tragedy with his parents. The knight asks: “is it better to speak or to die?” The princess responds: “to speak.”

If we take this romantic idea of speaking our minds no matter the outcome, then I’ll write “I miss you” every day, every hour, every time I remember that no one here is quite like you. But the question here is different: is it better to speak and kill or to remain silent and die?

I still don’t know, but I’ll figure it out by the time I get home.

Meet Carla: My name is Carla and I’m a university student from Chicago, currently living in Paris! Growing up in the suburban Midwest, the 10 square miles I called home sparked an early interest in discovering a world beyond that which I knew. Thanks to my Latinx family and nerdy tendencies, I’ve always had a passion for learning languages and experiencing other cultures. Follow me as I try and form my own definition of success, being forever-overdramatic and moody along the way. For a look at the places I see, check out my personal photography on IG!

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