Looking at him was like looking in a mirror. I didn't like identifying the parts of myself in him that I was noticing. I could see through what he was desperately trying to portray. He wasn't trying to seem rude or indifferent; he was trying to seem strong. I felt judged, if only by myself. This behavior was learned, and it was learned from me. The hyper emotional cycles. The infectious joy closely followed by sadness beyond his circumstances. Beyond what he should be able to process and comprehend. I wondered if he did fully comprehend or if he was a slave to the cycle and the feelings.
Goodbyes had always been hard for me. I didn't know how to approach them. I had developed at an early age a fear of letting people know how much I cared for them. It stemmed from a fear of embarrassment. I was terrified of someone feeling like I cared more for them than they did for me. I thought it a weak position. Also I would care deeply for people really quickly, and still do, and I felt unworthy of someone feeling the same for me. Somewhere I had learned to be a martyr. He
had begun to develop the same uncertainty and awkwardness about goodbyes.
“Okay, it's time to go.” I said. It hurt to say it. Even though it was everything I wanted at that moment. I wanted to be away from this. From what was happening. I was having sympathetic responses for the boy. My chest was as tight as I imagined his was with trying not cry. My eyes filled and burned.I saw the goodbye happen and I pulled him out the door. He made it through the door closing behind us and about a half of a block before the first tear fell. I left him to process a bit on his own (mostly, because I needed to form SOMETHING to say). I finally approached that tear about a block or so from where it fell.