Author's note: This won't make too much sense to anyone who isn't familiar with the film Rise of the Guardians; if you wish, look up the Guardians and you'll understand it more. This is sort of a letter, sort of a goodbye, and sort of a short story thing. I don't even know. I do know that it is part of a series of similar works that may or may not be posted. It took a lot of courage to post this one, for reasons that various people will understand. Either way - don't read it if you don't want to.
(Also, none of the photos included are mine, except for the airport one.)
I don't remember the first times we spoke, nor do I remember what we said. Maybe you do, but I don't believe I'll ever find out now; those memories are lost to time and the bright new adventure of the sunrise. Just as you are.
Somewhere along the lines, we became friends. It was never to last; and somewhere deep down in my heart, I knew that. For how can one remain lifelong friends with a bird - a free soul? How can one assume they will forever stay by the side of the Guardian of Adventure, who can stay in no place for too long?
But I still have memories.
I remember the jeans, faded and battered from years of mountain hikes, forest walks, and explorations of dark places within the earth. I remember the blue bandanna, the one that lent you luck. Most of all, I remember your grin that always shone with bravado and mischief, and your darting green eyes always searching for the next challenge.
I remember your voice; distinct and unique. You complained about it being too high-pitched, but I disagreed. It was soft, warm, with a lilting hint of an accent to it, and could often calm my frayed nerves and instill a thirst for adventure in me all at once.
The autumnfall days - so long ago, they seem - where I would pace restlessly, hungry for excitement, and a spark would light up my eyes... and I would run to the phone and dial your number, knowing that even if I couldn't go on an epic quest of my own, your intensity for living and passion for adventure would help.
The dark winter evenings where I would be at the computer, alone, and the phone would ring. My father would answer, then pass it to me, and I would realise you had called as a surprise to cheer me up.
The cold winter evenings where I would be running up the driveway to get the mail, come back, and hear from my brother that someone had called me. And it would be you. I remember sitting down with a bowl of soup between my arms when I answered the phone, having to explain to you and your curiosity why I was out of breath. And I remember curling up on the floor afterwards to listen to you recount the adventures you had gone on since we last spoke.
I remember when I first found out I would be going on my first vacation in ten years (and the first out-of-state trip of my life); I ran to the phone to call you, excited. "I'm finally going to get out of the house and go somewhere," I told you, bright-eyed and excited. "It won't be for around a year, but I've got the plane tickets and reservations on a room on the cruise ship and everything!" You expressed happiness for me, knowing from previous conversations how much the trip meant to me; then proceeded to give me advice, telling me dos and don'ts of cruise ships and the Caribbean. I hung on every word, overcome with excitement and feeling as though the entire world had been set right.
I remember the summer after when I awoke to a letter from you, saying goodbye to our community of fellow storytellers. I had expected it; you had told me you would be leaving. I had not known the date, however... and so I saw your farewell. But I never had the chance to say goodbye to you myself.
I was left for months to wonder of the whys and wherefores, until the day my plane flew out to the other side of the country. In the airport, I caught sight of you and once again the familiar feeling of peace and adventure all at once caught hold of me.
You were in Japan. We spoke for a few moments, and then it was time for me to board. And that was the last time I ever saw you. It was only hours afterwards as I watched the mountains drift past beneath us and the clouds whisper past the airplane windows that I realised... I had once again forgotten to tell you goodbye.
It's a painful word. 'See you later' is so much simpler, and yet... when one senses that a 'see you later' is going to become permanent, it is so very hard to say something that reflects that permanence. I never did. I pay for that mistake with tears.
The whys and wherefores still plague me. But deep down in my heart, I have the answers.
You were always and always will be the Guardian of Adventure. A free soul; a bird in flight. You cannot stay in one place for long. You will not be caged. You were for the longest time, gazing at a sunrise of new beginnings you could never reach.
The door swung open one day. You spread your wings and took flight, never looking back. And, after all, who could blame you? It was a new adventure, and one you had longed for; for so many years.
I understand why you left. You left because as an explorer, as a fighter - as the Guardian of Adventure - you could not stay. It would have broken your soul, just as a bird's soul is broken when it is trapped within a cage.
You left because you had to leave; to find yourself and to gain your life back. To escape that cage you were trapped in for so long. To keep fighting for truth, to keep searching for adventure. You had to leave so that you could keep that spirit of adventure alive.
And if you had to leave, then I suppose there was no better reason.
You are loved, and you are missed, bold warrior. Keep flying and keep chasing down your dreams. Keep finding those adventures.