Too Good at Goodbyes


I don't remember much of the first move I had.  I was four.  I mean, there were those cool moving sidewalks (escalators), I got to watch a lot of movies on my own little screen in the seat, and I guess it was a lot hotter when we got off the magic flying contraption.  But hey, it was all good.



As I got older, I started putting two and two together.  I developed a dislike for the "drop-off" points at the airports, you know, right before you enter the building.  I had a hatred of that little spot right outside the security checkpoint.  Those were the "good-bye" spots to a ten year old.  Those were the spots that Mimi and Papa couldn't pass, those were the places where the whole family stayed for the next five minutes, waving sadly.  To me, those were the boundary lines between my two worlds.  

I remember when my sister and I travelled down to Missouri one last time before we headed back to South Africa.  My grandfather walked us to the boarding gate and he could go no further.  I remember clinging to him and crying, knowing I was saying goodbye for years.  But what I remember the most is the looks from people around us.  They made no attempt to hide their curiosity or mild shock as they stared at the way all three of us were tearing up, and even their annoyance as we held up the line for two precious minutes.  To many people, planes are the "gateway to another world", not the dividing line between them.  But to a ten year old who lived in two different worlds, that sign that said "only passengers beyond this point" was forever translated to "time to say goodbye".

When I first found out we were moving to Tanzania, I wasn't supposed to know.  I read an email on my mom's computer (I know, I know, but I had opened the computer to play music and the email was already pulled up) explaining the move.  In a panic, I called my friend Kara in tears, praying it was joke and wondering where the heck that country was on the map. I didn't even know it existed.

Fast forward a couple months when it was official and I remember choking it out to my best friend Trinesch√© during our rhythmic gymnastics practice.  We stayed in the supply room for what felt like hours, crying.  

I remember when we announced it to our church, standing up at the pulpit as our pastor told the congregation in a thick voice that we were moving away. Staring out at the sea of faces, I could see nothing past my tears.  And yet, I could see everyone.  Auntie Karin, the lady that always had candy no matter when you ran up to her, Uncle Leon who never failed to give you a back-breaking hug when he saw you, and Auntie Lynette who would always leave bright red lipstick on my cheek every time she kissed me.  I saw Uncle Geoff who would always rant to me while washing the dishes, wondering why on earth women wore the most difficult lipstick to wash off of teacups, and I could still see the look on Perfect's face the time he fell off his stool while playing the drums.  I could see Uncle Josh playing all of the youth group games and creaming us every time, or Brian and Wendy laughing together outside the church. 

I remember trying to sing the last song after the announcement was made, but eventually turning away from the mic because my voice wouldn't work.  Too many memories, too many goodbyes.

Pretend there's a little break here.  

This post, up until now, was written back before I knew we were moving again, in 2017, but I couldn't post it because of government regulations, saying all bloggers out of Tanzania had to pay a fee, and so on.  Anyway, this is half a year later.  And guess what.  I had to do all of that again.

I can promise you, these weren't any easier.  My friends were precious to me, and I had to say goodbye to each and every one of them.  When I hugged my two best friends on the day we left for the airport, I sat in the van and sobbed for most of the ride.  A piece of me shattered when I watched Dar fade below us for the last time, the same way it did when we took the N2 down to the airport in Durban 3 years ago.

I always try and put a cheerful spin on these posts, but honestly, I'm not sure I have it in me this time.  Just like when we moved last time, over the years I began to see the positive aspects of it...but it's still too early for that. I will add a little note of encouragement to those going through a transition~

The biggest mistake you can make is try and ignore the pain.  In doing so, you make it worse, because it grows and isn't dealt with.  You can throw your dirty clothes in the closet and forget about them (cough cough, I know a few people that do that) but there comes a point where you open the closet door and it all comes tumbling out.  Your pain may seem far away when it's tucked in a corner, but it will come back to bite you and it won't be pretty, so deal with it now.  

Find those few friends that you want by your side the whole time.  Find the friend that can make you laugh about anything, and then find the friend that will let you cry on the phone with them for hours.  Find that person that always gives good advice and can talk you through anything, and then find the friend that won't say anything but will let you vent until you fall asleep.  There's nothing to stop the pain, but there are ways to deal with it.

 I guess we'll compromise on a bittersweet ending, with the knowledge that the pain does fade eventually.  But it's an ache that remains for a very long time.  I think my favorite quote sums it up quite nicely~

"You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart will always be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of knowing and loving people in more than one place."  ~Miriam Adeney

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