Wow. It’s crazy how many different ways goodbye can be said and felt. It’s crazy how you never really realize that until it’s time to say goodbye. It’s crazy how you can say goodbye to one of your best friends and not shed a tear and then get teary eyed writing a goodbye letter to your coworkers. It’s beyond crazy that 65 words, a phone number, and an email address can leave a person in tears for no reason at all, and yet, for every reason as well.
So yeah, I cried like a baby the minute that Gino–our maintenance guy at work–said goodbye to me tonight. To my credit, I waited until he had gotten into the car to go home–but still. I don’t get it. Maybe it’s the finality of it all. I don’t think I’ll ever see him again. He’s a nice guy and he’s been an absolutely awesome coworker. So many of my memories of the last six years have him in them because I practically live at work. We’re friends for sure–we’re just not the kind of friends that go and visit each other. I know I probably won’t see him again.
Of course, as soon as I thought this, it occurred to me that there are countless people that I probably won’t see again. A myriad of faces went through my mind–a slide show of conversations about rocks, Machiavelli, religion, and everything in between. It hit me that I’ll probably never get another rock as a surprise from Mr. Horio. We’ll never again pour over field guides for Nevada or Washington and lament the fact that we don’t have time or money enough to go rockhounding there. We’ll never get to laugh again at his ability to twist nearly any reader board quote into something that’s at least as rationally valid–and infinitely more amusing. We’ll never again talk about our dreams of getting published. It’s just. Wow. I can’t even fathom a day without talking to him. He’s become such a central part of my day and he always makes me laugh. We don’t even know each other–not really. But God I’m going to miss him.
At least I got to say goodbye though. I don’t even want to think about all of the people I won’t get to say goodbye to. Many of them are customers too. It’s amazing how many people you get to know when you work at a hotel. I’m going to miss them and it’s heartbreaking that so many of them don’t even know I’m leaving. They’re the kind of people who only come in once every couple of months so I haven’t had a chance to tell them. No more talking about “tramps” with the gents who work for Shell. No more bickering with Mr. Ballesteros. No more analysis of Squidbillies and South Park with my dear friend Mr. Jackson Smith. No more anthropology discussions or debates about business ethics with the guys at CalNeva. No more fights over hockey teams and no more trading tea and chocolate with Mr. Dalson. So many names, so many faces, and so many ways they have shaped me into who I am today.
It’s staggering really.
The most confusing part is that I don’t know why I didn’t cry when I said goodbye to a friend who’s really more of a sister the other day. I thought it was because I know I’ll see her again. Then I started thinking though and I know that can’t be it. I cried when my sister left for Washington–I still cry about that if I think about it too long or too hard. (I miss you Peaches!) And I know I’ll see her again. So why didn’t I cry when I said goodbye to my Vanilla M&M’s? It doesn’t make sense. I almost cried when I said goodbye to her mom. She cheated. She told me, “Maybe I’ll see you again someday” and that was more than enough really…
I think maybe it’s that I can’t bear to think of how much I’ll miss those people like Vanilla M&M’s. They’re the kind of people who can’t help but mean everything to everyone who is lucky enough to know them. They’re the kind of friends who are beyond irreplaceable. So it’s impossible to even try to consider living 3000 miles away from them.
In fact, I am steadfastly refusing to think about saying goodbye to the rest of them. Bermexistan and Coconut Bread, I just…no.
So yes, that’s the nature of goodbye. It’s a chameleon, ever-changing to fit each person and context in which you say it. And each time you say it, it remains just as foreign and reptilian as the first time. It doesn’t get better and sometimes…well, sometimes it actually gets worse.
And really, that’s a good thing. It’s not supposed to be fun. You’re not supposed to want to say goodbye. It’s supposed to hurt because those people you say goodbye to are supposed to mean something to you. And if that’s the case, then I guess I have no choice but to be okay with this whole goodbye business. I just wish sometimes that I could be more like my brother Jonny. His preferred method of goodbye is the middle finger salute. “I love you. Goodbye. Now fuck off.”
Honestly. It doesn’t get much better than that…
The Butcher of the Bard