Sunday, August 31, 2008

Goodbyes and Dreams

These past couple of weeks I've been traveling to visit some friends and family and so I've had to say goodbye quite a bit.
My first goodbye is to my kitten, Molly.
It is a bit one sided as she slightly awakes from her nap and allows me to kiss her face all over before she yawns and pats my face away, drifting back into her kitty slumber. I am amazed at how much I hate to leave her and I think, "When did I become a cat person?", before I leave for the airport.
Mike and I have had quite a bit of experience saying goodbye and so you'd think we'd be better at it. Turns out this is one time that practice does not actually make perfect. In fact, because we spent so much time apart in the past that whenever we're apart now, even for a couple of days, it feels like we're being robbed. It's a "Hey, we already did this!" kind of feeling. "No fair! Isn't it supposed to be our time together now?". Which makes every trip to the airport tedious and annoying. But we get through. Our goodbye are quick, thankfully, and intense. No gushing like morons on the pavement as the traffic cop not so kindly asks us to hurry it along. Hug, kiss, love yous exchanged. And then I'm gone. I like the simplicity. It is suffecient without being overly gregarious. Plus, it's hard so it needs to be quick. Like a bandaid.
In the south it goes a bit differently. Goodbyes are an art form. And can be quite annoying to someone not familiar with the customs. When I walked into the IHOP for a Hello/Goodbye breakfast with my Meredith College girls, I knew I was in for ...well, a commotion.
Fourteen girls, who of course must greet each other with a hey and a hug, attempt to chat and share stories across three booths while consuming more than their fill of various egg dishes, charred meat, and baked goods. This goes on for over an hour and I'm left feeling unfulfilled, like I had enough time to wet my whistle but not enough to eat. I had barely said three sentences to any one of them. I blame the seating arrangement and not the gallon of wine I consumed the night before at the wedding.

See, hungover. Don't judge.

Then the goodbyes begin. This goes on for thirty minutes. It's a ritual. We kiss and hug and ask about each other's lives and we move in a circle from girl to girl. And then we wait for our companions to finish their goodbyes which means we have to chat with several people to whom we've already said goodbye and then there's the suggestion of a picture and this takes several more minutes to orchestrate as we need to figure out who will take the photo and where the sun is in correlation to our faces. And in the age of digital cameras we of course must check the photo to ensure its quality before we can begin to say our second round of goodbyes. This is where we are given juicy bits of gossip or stories that make us linger with our goodbyes and can draw them out for several hours. As it happens, we have a deadline on this particular day so we politely make our excuses and head for our car and are followed of course by the gang meaning we must wave and shout our farewells one more time before retreating into the cool and quiet car, finally free from the chaos of the southern valedictory. Sigh.
In Oregon, with my family, we somehow got stuck into another never ending adieu vortex as we stood in the door way, hand on the door knob, chatting with aunts and uncles who were also on their way out the door. Luckily, my mother, who was fortunate enough to be merely feet away from her bedroom and beyond ready to retire there, chose to end the shenanigans by saying loudly, "Would someone like to please open the door?". Her subtext was clear and we left abruptly, all chuckling to ourselves. If only goodbyes were always so entertaining. And brief.
Is it just that we don't want to be rude? If so, then by us ALL trying our darnedest to be polite we are merely perpetuating the irritating cycle of the never ending farewell. Good manners are meant to make everyone involved feel comfortable. In the case of the long goodbye, we are doing just the opposite. Good manners gone bad, so to speak.
I say leave when you want to. Hug if you want to. Wave. Whatever. But please don't stand around and chat if the host is on their feet. That is a indication that they are waiting for you to leave. So be polite. Leave. You can always call Betty for her Apple Blueberry Pie recipe later.
And now for the dream. My friend Jamie recently left the country for two years. I am pleased with our goodbye. We saw each other frequently before she left. We laughed, talked, ate and drank. And while I didn't see her the night before her trip, I felt happy about the time we did spend together before she left. And she's now on her adventure and I'm so pleased.
And then last night she was in my dream. I've never dreamed of Jamie before (I leave that to my fiance - inside joke, don't worry) and last night she and I were on a train. She had come back home for a visit. I commented that it was a bit early in her trip to be coming home and she said that I was right and then she said goodbye. There was a noise outside the train so I turned away and when I looked back, she was gone.
Sometimes, if we don't get something in real life, our subconscious is kind enough to give it to us in our dream life.
Goodbye, Jamie! (Note how brief. Although technically she left two weeks ago so this is rather drawn out. Woops!)

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