step 1. care about them. a note before you proceed any further: this is dangerous. crucial, but dangerous. and like many dangerous things, it is just going to happen whether you like it or not, screw all your precautions. you don't have to know someone very long for this to happen -- I don't think you even have to have met them. you've just got to kind of see some light in them. so, yes, care about them. spend time with them. laugh with them, work with them, go places with them. and oh, God, let them do nice things for you. this is killer. cultivate an image of them in your mind. imagine they fill some sort of secret space inside of you. care.
step 2a. and then: say goodbye. cry.
step 2b. or: don't say goodbye. slip away. cry harder.
step 3. leave. or wait for them to leave. for how long is irrelevant because time is irrelevant when you miss someone. so is how far away they are. they could be across the street but you can still miss them because they're not with you. that's what this is about. there are no other rules. step three: imagine, in their absence, that some part of you is empty.
step 4. run over all your memories of them, one by one, like a montage in a movie only you can see. the happier they made you, the more you will miss them. guaranteed.
step 5. listen to pink floyd's "wish you were here" when it comes on the radio on the way to the airport. feel like a giant cliche; cry some more. don't sleep at night -- or rather, don't come home until 1 a.m. because it's so much easier to fall asleep that way. drive down streets past places you've been with them and note how they've altered your whole sense of geography.
step 6. wonder what they are doing right now and know that it's probably something wonderful and life-changing that they deserve. selfishly allow yourself to wish they were here doing nothing -- doing anything -- with you instead. concede your loneliness. concede that sometimes, when one person is missing, the whole world seems depopulated. concede you'd rather go grocery shopping with them than go to Paris or meet your favorite celebrity or win a million dollars.
step 7. by now you miss them, huh? I told you caring was dangerous. like love. and I don't think it's altogether wrong to say I miss you is another form of I love you. maybe that's why those words were always hard to say. like love and maybe some regret, some sadness. I love you, come back to me.
I miss you.
(something I wrote the other night in the wee hours of the morning when I couldn't sleep. I get really melodramatic at night. but still. I don't know how many more goodbyes I can handle, even the ones that aren't my own. I'm ready for reunions.)