I Like Hellos but Not Goodbyes

I never used to cry at goodbyes. Now when I have a close family member or friend visit me, I get excited but I already think about how sad it will be to say goodbye.  I’m not sure why this is. All I know is that I’ve had to say a lot of hellos and goodbyes in the past year. Not the hardest kind, but the kind that takes place at airports and on train platforms. The kind where after one hug, I have to go in for a second because I don’t know when is the next time I will see that person.

Recently someone asked me if I miss Paris since I’m in the States for a little while. The funny thing is that I missed Paris while I was still there, the week before I left for the holidays. I walked down the streets I always walk down and thought about how I wouldn’t see them for at least a month. I had lingering get-togethers with friends and felt a bit anxious to get back to them.

However, once I got to the States, I didn’t actively miss Paris. I felt happy and lucky to be able to be with my family and local friends for the holidays. I relished everything I didn’t realize I missed about being at home in the States.

When I’m here, I get a glimpse into alternate lives I could be leading.

In the version where I live close to where I grew up, I see my mom every Friday for dinner and my dad every Sunday for lunch. I hang out with my awesome college friends on the weekend and pick up volunteering with kids again on weekday evenings after work. I go to lots of intimate concerts in bars by artists that make my heart fill up. Every few months on a Friday afternoon I hop on a train from Grand Central to visit my good friend in Connecticut. A couple of times a year, I fly to see my sister in the Midwest. For several days I pretty much just hang out in her apartment and help her grocery shop.

Visiting close friends in Boston opens an alternate version. In that life my Massachusetts pals and I check out fun events and sample the night scene. Between our separate and mutual friends from college, work, or activities, it’s easy to get a group together and blur the line that delineates different friend groups. On quiet weekends, I read at a café while sipping bubble tea or take the T to South Station and pick up delicious sandwiches near the harbor. During long weekends and holidays I take the bus to see my family, easy peasy.

I like the version I am currently living. When I’m in Paris I’m hardly ever tempted to try one of the other choices in this real-life Choose Your Own Adventure. I guess that’s why it’s hard to say goodbye to people I love when I know we won’t see each other for months or more. They remind me that in a different reality I could see them much more often. After we part, there’s an immediate void in my daily life that I didn’t feel before. I go to a party, I sit outside, I take the metro, I have dinner at my apartment. And I think about how nice it would be to have that family member or friend beside me.

The comforting part is knowing that I’ll be okay and that life will resume. I’ve sniffed through enough teary “Call me when you get there”s to know that. Saying goodbye is unarguably worth the opportunity to say hello.

Are goodbyes hard for you, or are you used to them? Or are they hard for you and you’re used to them?
Could this be a symptom of living abroad? Or am I just too sentimental?

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9 thoughts on “I Like Hellos but Not Goodbyes

  1. Lisa, Your perspective reflects the value you place on your relationships which you nurture so thoughtfully whether near or far. That’s why we all love you!

    • Wow, that warms my heart! Thank you. How lucky I am to have such a great cheerleader.

      I’ve thought about the concept of friendship a lot in recent months and will likely write more about it in the future. I think we learn about relationships from the people around us.

  2. Going back home has a way enveloping us in the lifestyle that we forget to miss Paris! I have experienced that as well. My days are packed when I’m there that I usually extend my trip by another week because I want to get it all in (like real NY bagels!)

    Of course you’re not being too sentimental, goodbyes are so sad! Especially when they are done from here. I remember when two of my girlfriends and my mom left France after our wedding, I was a wreck for days. Oh no, I’m tearing up again.

    Enjoy your time in the States!

    • Bagels are becoming trendy in Paris, but I refuse to pay an arm and leg for one! I just want to go to the supermarket and get a fresh-baked pack of six for a few dollars.

      It is sad when people leave from there– my place usually feels so empty. Getting together with a friend soon after helps a lot.

  3. Pingback: She Was My Friend | I Say Oui

  4. In my alternative world, the one where Lisa comes and visits me in SF, we get bubble tea and this place I know, and then hop in and out of music bars down Valencia Street.

    I think living abroad has made goodbyes harder than they used to be, but in an elevated, educational way. I think we’ve become more perceptive to the distance between loved ones in relation to our own choices, what loneliness really means, and the fragility of human life, because living abroad will make you hyper aware of alone and among strangers in their home. I think you recognize your own vulnerability, which we Americans tend to forget. All this might sound sad, but actually, I think it means you’re treasuring the act of being human more acutely.

    • Oooh, that sounds like a lovely evening with you, bubble tea, and live music. Je veux !

      Interesting thoughts you have. I agree that living abroad is one of those things that can heighten our awareness of the impact of our choices.

      Now you got me thinking about the different kinds of loneliness. Food for thought…

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