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Goodbye’s the Saddest Word

April 23, 2012

January 6th, 2012 11:27pm

Intimate moments always make me a bit nervous. People who know me already know this; they know that I’m somewhat emotionally-detached. I just can’t help it! According to astrology though, this is characteristic of Virgos. Apparently, we see expressions of emotion as expressions of weakness. I don’t know how I feel about this. Maybe it’s true, maybe it isn’t.

I have come to dread goodbyes very much because of the frequent travelling I do between school and home. I am the worst when it comes down to saying goodbyes. I become all awkward and squirmy. I distance myself from the person(s) and play it off like it’s nothing. But really, it’s killing me inside to say goodbye, especially when I know that I will not be seeing them for a while. Sometimes, I even try to distract the person(s) from the goodbye itself. Once, I caught myself doing this. I consciously knew that I was just talking…and talking… and talking… while I was inching closer… and closer… towards the door. But the person I was talking to must have caught on to this because we ended up doing the usual goodbye thing, which made me feel quite awkward.

Tomorrow, I am catching the 3 o’clock train back to Montreal. No doubt, things will morph back into the regular routine and all things will be the same again. But maybe, things will be better this time ’round. Usually, I am always dying to go back. I am always dying to be free, to be on my own again! But this time, I have not yet tired out my stay here at home; I have become way too comfortable. You see, at home, there is no schedule. I can decide to write in my journal, or decide to read a novel instead. Or, if I’m not feeling up to either one of those activities, I can watch a movie! See, I can decide to do something, or decide not to do something! The point is, there is no “To Do” list and no schedule. But I know, all of that comes back as soon as I step on the train tomorrow. I’ve already created a new calendar for the new semester. I’ve already got a new moleskine reporter-style notebook filled already with schedules and lists. Already, things are all ready. Set to go. I already know what I’m doing all of tomorrow, Sunday, and Monday. Do you?

So I guess you can see why I am not exactly ready to say goodbye to home. I am not even sure if I’m ready to start school again. I am still burnt out from last semester; I can’t even imagine myself doing hours and hours of readings and writing papers, working hard as I did. I cannot imagine myself waking up everyday for 6:30am swim practices, hours of lectures, and then hours of work with the Dr. But saying goodbye to all of this freedom is not as hard as saying goodbye to my dear friends and family. Saying goodbye to my family is the hardest. In fact, it makes me nervous as to how they would handle it. My brother used to cry whenever my parents would drop me off at the train station. My mom would, of course, get all teary. My dad would just become awkward. The lead up to the goodbye is the worst. The last dinner, the ride in the car – oh the tension in the air!

Tonight’s dinner was the last and during its course, I kept fervently glancing towards my mother. I kept checking for signs for that red nose, for the teary eye, and for that longing stare. Aside from the “red nose”, all I got were a bunch of glances. While we were waiting for our food at our favourite vegetarian restaurant, we talked about tomorrow’s schedule. My dad said that I should stay with my mother while he drove my brother to Piano and tutoring. He said that I should stay with my mother and, in his words, “talk to her, not just stay with her, but talk to her”. I didn’t look up from my book, but I did raise an eyebrow, and maybe even rolled my eyes. I felt awkward then, and I’m pretty sure I’m going to feel awkward tomorrow when it’s just my mother and me. My mother and I don’t talk – well, we do, but not about anything intimate. God, I am going to feel awkward tomorrow! The lead up to the goodbye is always the worst. The worst!

I’m not ready to say goodbye yet. Or maybe I am, maybe I just don’t know it yet. Are we ever ready for goodbyes? What if this is the last? What if something happens? Should we always treat our goodbyes as if it were the last?

I remember this specific encounter with a dear old friend of mine. It had come down to saying goodbye and of course, I got all awkward like I usually do.

I walked towards the door and he said, “Goodbye Tina”.

I reached the door and pulled it behind me.

But just as it closed, I turned around and say, “See ya later”.

He grinned and said, “You must not do this very often because you’re not very good at saying goodbye”.

“Or maybe, I do it too often,” I replied.

With that, I turned and closed the door behind me. It would have been a really good way to end things – y’know, dramatic, like the movies. But I opened the door again and giggled and told him, “that was a really good line, wasn’t it?” He laughed and said “yeah”, but that I had ruined it by coming back. I laughed and told him see yah, and left.

So with me, saying goodbye is always a “two time” thing. I always have to say a serious goodbye and then go back and lighten it all up. Because goodbyes shouldn’t be about seriousness! No, it should not be!

But it is. Why?

– I don’t know.

All I know is when it comes down to say “bye”, it should actually be “see ya later”. Goodbye is too harsh a word; it’s too sad. Just listen to Celine Dion’s “Goodbye’s the Saddest Word” and you’ll get it. The word “goodbye” shouldn’t even exist in our dictionary. We should take the example from Jonathan Swift’s, Gulliver’s Travels (1700s). In the Fourth Part of the novel, Gulliver travels to the land of the Houyhnhyms, the land of the rational horses. They possess many virtues, one of which is the amazing virtue of telling truths. In this land, there is no such thing as falsehood. They don’t even have a word for lying; the closest thing they have is “the thing of which that is not true”. So, just in the same, I think the word, “goodbye”, should not exist in our vocabulary. The closest thing we should have to it is: “the thing of which to convey one’s absence, in the presence of a specific other, for a period of time”.

And that’s all. So no more “goodbyes”, just “see yah later’s”.


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