The Long Goodbye

I like to think of myself as this flexible, go-with-the-flow kind of gal.  You know, who rolls with the punches and takes things in stride and all those other vaguely sports-oriented metaphors.  It turns out, however, based on a forty-odd year track record of actual evidence, that I’m not.  Which is one of the suck-y things about being a real grown-up, that recognition that you may not actually be — and may never be — the kind of person you thought you were.  If you know what I mean.

I’m particularly bad at good-byes.  When I’m done, I’m done. I have never, in my entire life, had one of those schmaltzy-movie airport scenes, where two people give just one more hug and then another, and then one last passionate, tear-my-fingers-from-your-sleeve meaningful look before the flight attendant closes the plane door.  You get one hug and then I’m out.  If you’re less lucky (ahem, Eric), I pick a fight with you right before leaving.  I feel awful, in hindsight, for my high school boyfriend, who I saw about one weekend a month after we moved for my senior year (which sucked in a first-world-problem sort of way) and who suffered me getting used to him after our separation for about 12 hours of each weekend, and then suffered me warming up to saying good-bye for the last 12, leaving about 3 hours on Saturday afternoon of a pleasant girlfriend.

But it makes this departure particularly painful, because I started saying good-bye to people almost two weeks ago, when school got out and co-workers started leaving on Christmas travels.  Now I find myself awkwardly running into people at the grocery store and getting, “You’re still here?!”  Or most awkward of all, slinking out of work on my last day to avoid any dramatic (or, more ego-deflating, indifferent) leave-taking and then returning an hour later to sign some checks, and having to slink out a second time.

It’s also a strange good-bye because it’s temporary.  So while one side of my brain dramatically marks The Last Time I Get Gas or The Last Trip to Phil’s BBQ or The Last Hug with Friend, the other side rolls its eyes and says, “Dude.  Six months.  You’re not dying.  Get a grip.” *

photo (1)But now, for reals, we’re leaving.  Like, soon.  And we’re running around writing checks and cancelling services and sorting keys for tenants and remembering that one last thing that we were planning to do.  The aspirational me is all Zen about it, realizing that it’ll get done and if it doesn’t, it’ll all work out fine.  The real me is freaking the hell out.

Postscript: It turns out there are exceptions to my non-melodramatic style of leave-taking.  I spent hours yesterday lovingly packing the absurd amount of clothing that I seem to own, stroking my favorite cords, or that scarf I got for my birthday, and thinking about how excited I am to wear it when I return.  And tomorrow, when I drive away, I’m *leaving my phone here* which is causing me heart palpitations and will likely be the subject of another blog: Life Without My Phone.

* One minor advantage of leaving — which I remind myself of each time I decide this is stupid idea and we shouldn’t go (which is about every 3 hours at this point) — is that I can stop hearing well-meaning yet psychologically unhelpful people tell me, “It’s going to be an adventure,” in the tone that Eeyore uses when he predicts rain, or, “Be safe.  Really.  Be safe,” while looking meaningfully in my eyes.  Oy.  I’m barely holding it together here, people.  Be kind.

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