Are there really any good byes? Surely there is good riddance. There is a relief in removing unwanted or unwarranted company. Some people are able to cast off those who seek to undermine or negatively effect their lives. Even those of us who have a harder time letting go, eventually know the sweet release of removing a canker from our lives. “Don’t let the door hit ya where the good Lord split ya,” as a good friend says.
How do we genuinely say goodbye to those we love? In a world of all-you-can-eat buffets and full season just-one-more-episode binge watching on Netflix, how do we find the will to end a good thing? Sometimes it’s the bartender ringing last call. On the really good nights, it’s the sun coming up and the recognition of a new day that brings things to an end. How do we personally end that enchanting conversation? How can we let go of that comforting warm hug? How do we stop dancing when music is still playing and the band is tried and true?
These last couple weeks, I have been wracked with anxiety. Packing up the remains of my life here in Maine has been like a death of a million cuts, Favored shirts, dog eared books, touristy tokens that trigger little movies in my memory palace, all steal precious moments from my final days here. Time is spent weighing the object’s emotional worth, physical size, and ability to weather 30,000 miles and a year on the road. Likewise, friendships have been put to similar tests over the past couple of weeks. Some friends have actively distanced themselves from me, to see if I would seek them out. Other friends have tested my resolve to actually leave in ways even my Jewish grandmother would have found unfair as far as guilt trips go. Others patiently make themselves available, hold on to hugs just a little longer, press their lips to forehead, cheek, or lips just a little harder.
I have learned that the best of friends just take up the conversations where we left off. Maybe the time and distance give us a better perspective or a more balanced view but the love and conversation has that wonderful rhythm which feels like home. Maybe when I hear good bye, my mind translates “bye for good”. I don’t like that thought at all. In fact, I am mortally tired of goodbyes. Instead I’ll use the term farewell because all I really want is to see my friends again and know that they have been well and have had many fun adventures along the way.
Farewell Hallowell. May my neighbors remember they live beside each other not against each other. Farewell my favorite watering holes. May you continue to sustain and nourish while drinks and conversations flow and flourish. Farewell my favorite trails, Vaughn Woods, The Res, The Kennebec River Rail Trail. I wish my friends would spend more time with you because you have only made my life better over the past few years. Farewell my friends. I will miss you everyday. I will see something or meet someone and will immediately wish you could be there with me, which is silly, because I shall carry you all with me, tightly packed into the recesses of my heart. Please reach out from time to time and let me know that you still carry me in your heart. If you carry me and I carry you, maybe the burdens of this life won’t weigh us down so much. Fare well, my friends, farewell.