“When she packed up to leave, she knew that she was saying goodbye to something important, which was not that bad, in a way, because it meant that at least you had said hello to it to begin with…” ― Lorrie Moore
Ever want to see me fold? Try to say goodbye to me.
Goodbye’s are tricky because there is never a good time for them to happen. If they are spur of the moment, it is hard to remember the right things to say and so we either don’t say anything at all or we say too much, like rambling fools who stomp their way through a spider’s web. When the moment is foreseen, we over think. Spending days wallowing around while ity bity butterflies twirl inside our stomachs as we brainstorm how we are going to make it out of the moment without crumbling like a piece of coffee cake.
I have become far too good at avoiding goodbyes. After one too many times of allowing the drippings of my black as night Maybelline mascara to stain the cotton that rests over another’s shoulder, I have learned to do what it takes to soften the moment and keep myself in check. Talk in circles, hug and dash, leave a letter on the kitchen counter. Get a grip and go.
Try to say goodbye to me and I’ll make you believe that you have lost your mind. “What are you talking about?” I will spit at you so nonchalantly that you will begin to believe that I really will see you tomorrow when in fact I will be 2,453 miles away floating on an alligator raft in my backyard pool. “I will see you next July, for sure” “Don’t worry, we will talk every day and Skype every night!” “Oh please, chances are I will miss my flight and then I will just come right back and stay here, with you, and live off the four nights and three days worth of garments in my zebra suitcase” And as Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds plays quietly in the background I will convince you of all of this, when let’s be honest, it probably is not true. Not because I don’t want to see you again. Or because you don’t mean anything to me. But because to face the goodbye, while the head lights of your heart blind my eyeballs, is sometimes too much for the soul to handle. You let my words push you, safely, through the exit door and I stay to watch you go because it is the least I can do.
If you really want to know me, my friends, then you should know the story of the last time I said goodbye to someone–my freshman year of college.
A boy that I had a crush on decided to walk me to my Spanish class and while I was getting lost in his paisley shaped lips and coy smile, he uttered the words, “Jen, lets hang out later” before he hugged me and said goodbye. After I caught my breath and before he walked out of the building, I shouted a few decibels too high, “Bye Paul, I love you” [You can read the full disaster here]
It had just slipped out of my mouth, so delicately, like the way your feet will suddenly scissor and slide across a wet floor that you don’t see coming. If you ever want a boy to stop speaking to you, my friends, just tell him that you love him–after only two weeks. He will, without a doubt, stop all contact with you.
The art of saying goodbye is one of the most vulnerable tasks out there. It will leave you feeling unmasked, in a–this is me when I wake up in the morning with no makeup on–kind of way. Leaving the other person never able to look at you the same way again. It sits nicely on the shelf beside the art of saying you are sorry and the moment right before someone unwraps an important gift that you are excited to give them.
I spent the year of 2010 and the first half of 2011 traveling the country and meeting new people every single day. And so I have become certain of one thing, if you ever want to fully understand the impact that someone has had on you, just try to say goodbye to them. You may be lucky enough to feel a certain level of heaviness rush through your body. A feeling as rocky as trying to balance a bowling ball on your chest that may suddenly surprise you that the person meant more to you than you really ever knew.
If you dare, choke back your tears and give in. Just try, for the sake of keeping that person in your life, not to say I love you.[Enjoy the last week of 2011! I will be traveling to NYC where I will spend my time walking the streets with a layer of ice glazing my sunburt body]