Despite being well versed, hell- down right prolific, in both the art and execution of farewells; they wear on me. Not simply the act of saying goodbye – but the brief intervals between the ends…the end of the job or travel that has occupied my time for a eight months or two years and the next employment distraction.

In between I find myself in a whirlwind of catching up and “do I still fit?”. It is in these moments of brief reentry into a world I am at once a part of and apart from that I am reminded how much my presence in the world is – as my dad likens everyone’s effect – a hand pulled out of a bucket of water. The surface is disturbed briefly, but the calm returns. The normal. Without me.

People get married. They have children. They move. They take vacations.

There are those who embrace me wholly upon my return. Gather me into the folds of their life and remind me that there is still a place set at the table, a pillow on bed or couch that has my name on it. But there are also the calls that never happen. Well meaning intentions that fall away to the more pressing, the more consistently present parts of life.

The reality is that even if I were always here instead of courting airports like most people court lovers, relationships still change. long spontaneous dinners followed by late night dancing are replaced with Chic-fil-a and clapping as junior tumbles through the indoor playground; and budding careers that end the week with a Friday happy hour boss detox bloom into being the boss others detox from.

I get it.

Still, I find myself retreating into myself in the brevity between my endings and beginnings. As my suitcase waits patiently (only partially packed) in the middle of my sister’s living room, as people call or email farewells, as five weeks dwindles to five days and I prepare to make a life elsewhere while watching this one from a distance, I find myself intent on sitting quietly where a few weeks earlier I was raring to see, visit, reconnect.

It isn’t about regret. I don’t regret my frequent flyer miles or beautifully random path of people I’ve encountered – continue to encounter – along my sometimes sporadic way. but that doesn’t mean I don’t lament the weddings, spontaneous dinners, random festivals, or comfortable silences my less frenzied life offers. It doesn’t mean I don’t miss the people who in my mind are constants in my life – if only in the context of home as country and nostalgia as roots.

One day I’ll be still. Maybe. Succumb to the comforting notion of a place that doesn’t have to welcome me back because I never really leave it.

I’m not opposed to the concept. I look forward to home as location and not the abstraction it has been for most of my life. But that time isn’t now. Right now is at least one more “goodbye”. One more “hello”. One more leap of faith that those that love me here and now will love me when I return.

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1 Comment on hello goodbye again

  1. Linda O'Dell says:

    “My adventureous niece, I love you”, says your Aunt Bettie, as I read to her this blog and all your wonderful and exciting blogs about hellos and goodbyes and your experiences in Uganda. So exciting and funny and educational and insightful as we read from your 1st day experiences of taxing about on a bycicle to getting work permits to meeting people along the route to the market. We are both so proud and inspired by your wanderings and appreciate your sharing. BTW what is a mzungo exactly?

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