26 May 2009

5 au revoir

i'm not good at goodbyes.

in the third grade, facing summer exile in memphis and two weeks of unconditional grandparental love, i ran screaming across asphalt-- unslowed by a stumble and the ripping of my favorite flamingo pink stirrup pants-- to throw myself sobbing upon the front bumper of my parents' minivan, creating a spectacle the likes of which i think we can pretty safely say had never before been seen in the culman, alabama cracker barrel parking lot.

a shirtless man in a rocking chair with a tattoo of a confederate soldier extending from the lower folds of his gut to the top of his floppy breast wondered aloud if i had been sold into white slavery. it looked that bad.

rightly, my parents lit into me then and there for having broken a whole heap of moral codes. thou shalt not jump from moving cars. thou shalt not do anything to increase the chances of thine parents accidentally killing thyself. thou shalt not destroy thy stirrup pants. (a host of lessons somewhat undermined by my guilty grandmother feeding me chocolate chip cookies the whole way home, as though i had suffered a trauma healable only by binge-eating baked goods.)

i do not do goodbyes. because if i do goodbyes they are a visceral volcano of repressed emotion and tears and snot. before moving to college, S and i met at a park to bid one another adieu. by the time we left three weepy, kleenexless hours later, my forearm was caked in a sunburned mucusy crust suspiciously reminiscent of deep fried oysters. this is something no one should have to face. the manifestation of one's emotions in a manner evocative of fried food.

i may be making a bigger issue of this than it is. maybe you don't walk away from me thinking, solid on the greeting, but she sure flopped on the goodbye. this is inevitably what i assume you are thinking, because if ever i've been obligated to bid you goodbye, odds are i shoved you into that car/cab/train/plane, dropped some exceedingly inadequate cliche of the "see you around" variety and ran the hell away only to text two minutes later with a belated farewell.

i would like to believe this is not my fault. that it is a hereditary failing. that my ancestors have been shoving their beloved visitors onto carriages/kayaks/camels since the advent of time and i, therefore, bear no responsibility for my inability to appropriately handle the emotions of departure. but i'm kind of sure this isn't so much genetic-- my parents have never exhibited any compunction about being rid of me-- as it is a character flaw. this isn't in my blood, passed down along with the high cholesterol and heart disease and hearing problems. no, this is me.

i am wired weird. bereft upon being left in any way by anyone but incapable of expressing that in a manner more sophisticated than fight or flight. yesterday, i forfeited the Girlfriend of the Year award by practically shoving eF into a security screening barrier. next weekend, i will, no doubt, encourage my parents to take night showers and leave before dawn.

this, this hatred of goodbyes, is the sole reason i have left the house of every friend i have visited in the past decade at an ungodly early hour, under the cloak of dark. a social eccentricity that has masqueraded under an only marginally more acceptable morbid fear of "traffic."

no modifier, mind you. not heavy traffic. just plain traffic.

as in, oh yes, i'm perfectly safe being the only car on the natchez trace at 3:45 a.m., but dear God, heaven help me if have to contend with the presence of TRAFFIC...

i will risk personal safety to avoid a farewell.

because i do not like endings. i do not like to let go. i do not want to make small talk and eye-contact. i refuse to wave. i will make nothing even so much as resembling a spectacle.

and at the first tug of that old instinctual pull to run across a parking lot in front of moving cars, pink stirrup pants be damned, i will walk away.

5 comments:

Les Savy Ferd said...

you know, i've never tried oysters before and now I prolly never will.

remember when i neatly merged your fear of haplessly destroyed baked-goods and birds?

well you one-upped me with the unholy marriage of sunburn and seafood.

Osutein said...

Yeah, eeewww.

I have the inverse problem. I put too much stock in good-byes. If they seem rushed or not-as-appropriately-emotional-as-I-deem-necessary, I tend to get disturbed and wonder if I misjudged the whole friendship/relationship/parent-child bond from the get-go.

Which makes it all the more difficult working for the Japanese, who will cry like babies and throw you up in the air and possibly even rend their garments two days before you leave, but come your actual moment of departure will give a slight bow and then head off to get coffee and some manju before you're even out of sight.

Meggie said...

Caro--I get you. Goodbyes suck. I'm horrid at them. And the worst is when you are the airport and the SO is singing "Leaving on a Jet Plane".

Just horrible. Bawling in the airport. The Germans thought I was nuts.

Linda said...

Just so you know, the Barnetts are going to request hand-holding (one on each side) and eye contact on the way to the airport next time we visit. With a hug at each cross walk.

That is, if you're awake when we leave. traffic is pretty bad in chicago these days.

oline said...

yeah, ha, no. maybe, maybe the hand-holding but there will be absolutely no hugging at cross walks.