Eras end. Friendships, daily routines, jobs, locations, relationships, lives – anything you’re a part of right now is liable to end some day. Maybe temporarily, but possibly forever. Endings as a whole tend to be crappy. Personally, I hate when something I’m enjoying nears the end, so much so that I always avoid the last 20 seconds on the final tracks of my favorite albums, or turn off my favorite movies before the end credits begin. It’s extreme and perhaps even a little odd, but somehow it eases the disappointment in the fact that something I relished is over. In life, these endings are far different than the last 20 seconds of Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On, because I can just start the disc over. Endings in real life – in our lives, are simply not that simple.
Goodbyes are directly linked to endings. A career change, a decision to move to another city, our significant other breaking up with us or vice versa – these types of life altering occurrences feature endings that weigh heavily on our emotions. Whether you saw it coming or were completely blindsided, the feelings are still going to be present. In reality, there’s no amount of time in advance that can fully prepare us for the actual goodbye — the part where the moment we’ve been dreading finally comes to fruition, or the worst case scenario you hadn’t expected suddenly snatches comfort from your grasps.
Generally speaking, saying “goodbye” is kind of uneasy. It doesn’t always go smoothly and often feels uncomfortable. Whether you ran into an acquaintance that you hadn’t seen for a long time, or you’re moving out from the place you’ve shared with the same roommates for years — when parting ways it can get awkward. Mushy emotional words and tears or sarcastic jokes and laughs? Handshake or hug? An empty “We should hang out soon” or an actual number exchange and hashed out details? Will you be back in this place you’re leaving in a year? A decade? Or is this the last time you’ll ever be here? There are simply too many unanswerable questions for comfort. Too many unknowns to be at ease.
The best goodbyes are the ones that don’t ever actually happen. The stuff that doesn’t necessarily come to an ending so much as is slowly disintegrates into less and less over the months and years. Consider a person you used to be close friends with, but no longer speak to regularly. Someone you never had a falling out with, but you simply grew apart from. These situations can be a downer, especially when you realize the former friendship is covered in so many cobwebs it’s no longer recognizable. As big of a bummer as that epiphany may be, it doesn’t have the sudden shock effect of an actual goodbye. No hugs, no kisses, no handshakes, no airports, no packed bags or tears – just time.
Goodbyes are never going to be something we can adapt to. They’re all different and each one is followed by a different person, place or thing being absent in our lives. There are the necessary goodbyes that we feel a sense of relief after, but even then, to know that something we once felt strongly about or comfortable with is going to cease to exist can be scary. Maybe we should eliminate “goodbye” from our vocabulary. Ciao, farewell, later, ta-ta, adieu – take your pick — any of those feel a lot less concrete and final, even if goodbye is the sad reality.