Yesterday I emailed my students to say goodbye. In two weeks it will be my last day in the Study Abroad Office and then Hubby and I will move from the beautiful coastlines of San Diego to the plains of Oklahoma City for him to start an awesome new job. I am so proud and we’re both excited, but with every move comes the challenges of goodbyes.
Personally, I have never been all that great at goodbyes. As a child I would cry every time a friend went home after a play date or sleepover. On the day my grandma was supposed to go back to Illinois after visiting us, I would hide her house slippers because I figured she couldn’t leave without them. I just don’t particularly like when people have to leave. And I’m not much better when I’m the one doing the leaving either.
For those of us who have traveled, I’m sure we have all faced challenging goodbyes. I am most familiar with the travels that last a semester to a year where we have to say goodbye to family, friends, colleagues, Sundays school classes, book clubs, running groups, etc. They can be emotional goodbyes because often they are a lifetime of relationships, but usually you know that you’ll be back which provides a great deal of comfort.
When we leave our host country to go back home, the goodbyes are often different. We have to say farewell to host families, tour guides, bus drivers, professors, roommates, classmates, and travel-mates. Though we may have only known these individuals for a few months, the goodbyes are often more difficult. So much has been shared. So much has been experienced. And usually we can only leave with the hope that someday we will have enough time, money, and vacation days to come back.
For me right now, I would say this particular goodbye feels somewhere in the middle. We have only lived in San Diego for a year but in that short time, I have made fast friends and gotten very attached to my students. However, the experiences have not been as intense as they were when I studied abroad. There was never any rush to see and do everything here in San Diego, because it wasn’t always known that we were going to leave so quickly. And though this isn’t home, as I begin to say my goodbyes, it feels more like a “see you later” rather than “I hope someday our paths will cross again.” At least I hope that truly is the case.
There are so many types of goodbyes. The quick farewell to colleagues as you run off to your evening gym class. Kissing your husband goodbye as you drop him off at the airport for a conference. Saying goodbye to a friend as she heads off for a job in Amsterdam. The permanent farewell of a loved one after she takes her last breath. While each goodbye may seem to vary in distance and finality, each is important. I think the act of saying goodbye, while it may be difficult, shows that they matter to me. So though it is one of my least favorite activities and I’m not very good at it, I have to say goodbye.