There’s a confidence needed in saying goodbye.
The less sure you are in a departure, the more likely a flimsy “See you later!” or “Until next time!” will be given instead of an assured bye, a clean break that we will not see each other again for the foreseeable future. These moments of halted breaking aways are often caught up in the politics of fantasies in real life (Camps, school, vacations, etc.) where you are thrust into an idyllic situation that you hope doesn’t end. Unfortunately, like all things, the constant is change and, like beginnings, things end. You have to say goodbye.
This confidence is jarring. When you look closely, you rarely see it. In social media, rarely does a person bid farewell to never return: there’s always a new beginning with the Internet. With text messages, no one ever says goodbye as these conversations we have were designed to carry on indefinitely, to stretch across hours and days and months and years into an entire lifetime of quips and updates to each other. Even in my emailing, I end with more of a hello: “Let me know.”; “Speak soon.”; “Hope you are well.”; various invitations that I would like to keep talking more instead of stilling any conversational waves.
In talking one-on-one, these facts are realized further. “I’ll see you soon.” and “When will you next be in town?” and even the more direct pulling out of calendars to set a date for the next time. The goodbye is never made. Hugs happen, sure, but a goodbye is rarely said, meant and intended as a break. Sometimes – and these are the worst – people tell you that they “don’t say goodbye” instead opting for the “Until I see you again!” in the anticipation that, yes, you will see them again as you stare at them realizing how there is no way humanly possible that you will be seeing or spending any time – or at least any quality time – with this person you barely know who intends to see you with some regularity despite the barriers of time, geography, money, etc. It’s not possible to see that person again – and that’s okay. This is a mismanagement of expectations.
I was that person though. I was the type who handed out gifts and held hands, sobbing how this “wasn’t the end” and, in my culture of constantly moving in a military upbringing, leaving people and starting all over again was something built on the past, all these doors never fully shutting, propped open by each other, unable to close as a breezes of emotion – or even physical trespassers – pass through my life. The thing that comes with being unable to say goodbye is a need to always say hello, whether you intend to be that open or not.
Phones exaggerate this. More than in person, you have to have a confidence to cut things off otherwise you end in a loop of never-ending goodbyes, these fashioned and refashioned farewells that never quite land. “You have a great weekend.” before “No, you have a great weekend.” before “We’ll speak soon.” before “Yes, we’ll be in touch.” before “Okay goodbye now.” before “Goodbye!” before bye and bye and bye and bye and bye before someone just has to hang up the fucking phone, ending the call, a conversation that can in no way be resuscitated by these beginner endings. Since we cannot see each other or feel energies by phone, you have to be assured to say you are ending something and mean it. Few do this but those who do relay a calm, the feeling that they are in control. To give a confident bye, to reconcile the uncertainty of turning away and into a new direction, is to be able to be okay with the blindness of what’s next. That is an accomplishment.
This letting go, this cleansing breath out, is an assured exit. These exits are difficult. They are returnless. There are no take-backs. There is no re-gifting a goodbye. It is final. It is a little, daily metaphor for death. There is no closure here. You have to be at peace with these endings or you will consume yourself. You will spiral into a buffet of never-endings. The intangible will be made unreal. You will lose so much by trying to keep that which was left at your feet, under a toe.
We infrequently let ourselves go there because we rarely let other people go there. Push yourself. Push them! Let closed doors stay closed instead of letting the draft of life sweep through your space, knocking everything around. Be grounded in a goodbye.