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Never Wave Goodbye
I was never good at goodbyes.
That's why I prefer, "Be seeing you," or "Ciao!," or even, "It's been real." My father was never good at saying so long, either, even though when he was dying he spent a month graciously accepting farewell visits from friends who wanted to see him one last time. His death itself was not easy: as he died, he seemed to be grasping out at us, trying to hold on to the life he so loved. But when he was gone, that was it. Goodbye.
I thought of this because of an old college obsession. It was an unrequited love affair (the love being mostly on my part, the affair, well that took two), which is described elsewhere on this site. I thought I had said farewell to her two years ago when I wrote that piece. But some months after it appeared, she contacted me, We met, we talked, and we were apparently friends again.
But then, the same old pattern emerged. Unreturned phone calls, broken engagements. Five or six months after our "reunion," I had seen her not at all. I ran into her on the street. She was obviously uncomfortable seeing me. So, I said goodbye, leaving it up to her to call me. Which I knew she never would.
Almost a year later, I came across some lovely pictures of her from college. I e-mailed them to her, with a friendly note, saying I was sorry our friendship had waned and wishing her well in the future. I didn't expect a response (or maybe part of me did, otherwise why send the note? Surprisingly (or maybe not), she contacted me, with wistful comments about how she thought of me often, and if I ever wanted to talk, I should call her. Like Charlie Brown, Lucy, and the football (she is always offering to hold it for him so he can kick it, he agrees, always knowing that she is going to pull it out at the last minute), I called her up, thinking things might be different.
Alas, plus ca change, as the French say. Or more to the point, those who forget the past are destined to repeat it. So, farewell, college chum, and lover-that-never-was. I'll be seeing you. I mean, "Goodbye."
Until the next time, that is.
September 24, 2010