Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Midwestern Goodbye

I'm not sure why it is, but I'm just not good at the long, Midwestern goodbye.

What I'm referring to, if you're not sure, is the way people in this part of the country have of saying goodbye. Usually this is after "a visit" - as opposed to at the end of a phone call - which is ironic, since I typically have no problem saying telephone goodbyes for nearly as long as the original conversation. But, at the end of a weekend with my folks (such as... say... an Easter weekend), or after a night at the movies with friends, or in the parking lot after a dinner when it's 5 below zero, I can usually keep the goodbyes pretty short.

It's not that I find myself really wanting to leave the people I've been with (at least most of the time). It's just that I kind of feel like if we weren't already done talking maybe we shouldn't have gotten up and headed for the door in the first place.

Now I fully admit that my tolerance levels for this change situationally.

Seeing someone off at the airport whom you probably won't see again for at least a year? Lingering is pretty much expected. Possibly to the point of almost missing a flight.

Leaving a restaurant with someone whom you've just had dinner with and already have plans for the next time and you're connected electronically 18 different ways, and at this point you've already said that you're all tired and the next day is an early day and you really need to get to bed? In my mind the goodbye is done as soon as the hand hits the door on the way out.

I also fully admit that - in that first instance - once the "final" goodbye is said, I want it all to be over and done. I want to close the car door so I can do a quick wallow in the sadness of the departure, and then start focusing on the fun aspects of the time together and the "what will we do next time?" of it.

My final nights in Baltimore before moving to Minnesota were spent in long goodbyes. But they were purposeful. They were filling the "one last ____" roles. And when I actually drove away in the morning, I pretty much just got in the car, turned up the stereo, and headed out.

I think my favorite - and, yes, I know that's an odd way to look at it - departure was when I left Paris at the end of my teaching assistantship way back when. A bunch of people saw me off to the airport, and we said all of our goodbyes and then I stepped onto an escalator which they all had to stay at the bottom of. A couple of quick backward glances for waving, and then they were no longer visible due to the architecture of the airport.

Sentimental, but definitive.

Maybe that's what happens when a schmaltz-prone Midwesterner spends 10 years on the to-the-point East Coast. Or maybe it's a Gemini thing. Either way, we've reached the end of this post. And since I'll see you again in a couple of days (most likely), you'll forgive me if I don't linger.

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