(one of many reasons why I suck at normal social interactions)
Today I said goodbye to two friends from the US, and later realised that I’ll probably never see them again, because they’re going back across the pond on the weekend, I have no plans to meet them tomorrow, and in all honesty I don’t see myself going to America any time soon, and especially not the one state to be mocked by the Bloodhound Gang (although if either of said friends invite me I’ll row across the bloody Atlantic if need be because they’re lovely).
And I didn’t say a teary goodbye, or really do anything beyond my usual dignified head-nodding that I use as everything from a ‘goodbye’ to a ‘I’ll see you in the carpark in fifteen minutes with beer and an ambulance on standby, mate’, simply because I hate saying goodbye, even if it’s the last time we’ll meet.
My first problem is that the notion of a goodbye emphasises the past and the future, but not the present; to say ‘goodbye’ is to end the current social interaction, by definition looking back on it, and looking into the future where this interaction will no longer exist, so steps must be taken to ensure this divide is made clear. Personally, I don’t really care about the future, nor the past beyond using it as a source of mistakes to improve upon, I’d rather use our time together to talk about fun things rather than be sad that we won’t be occupying the same space for a period of time (especially when Facebook Messenger is a thing).
But this idea of division is my biggest problem with saying goodbye, as it separates one period of existence – the one we were just in together – from another – the one in five minutes when you’ve gone one way and I’ve gone the other. This model suggests that our being together only influences us, or is only important, when we are together, as the ‘together’ and ‘apart’ bits of our existence are bordered with the word ‘goodbye’.
In reality, however, I’d argue that we are at our most influenced by people when we are not around them: one of my friends reminded me of the supreme wtf creation of the Internet that is Ham-Cat, and another talked about my failed NaNo novel and a secret poem I’m writing, three topics that were only thrown into the meeting in the last few seconds, but will probably dominate my thoughts and actions (and, in the case of Ham-Cat, nightmares) for the next few days, long after those who mentioned them have flown a thousand miles away to a different continent.
This also applies to more serious stuff; I’ve not got any examples with these friends because I’ve known them for a short time, but I’ve not seen who I’d consider my oldest friend in almost half a year, and probably won’t for at least another six months, yet traits like their mannerisms and personal conduct (particularly with being acceptive of other people when others reject them) have probably influenced me considerably, making me a more tolerant and inclusive person (when I’m not being an introverted frak). Equally, the lesson to shut up and get on with it is one ingrained in my mind from another old friend, who went to a different university to me, whom I didn’t even say goodbye to when we met in London for the last time; I didn’t even know they had left when I was bitching to them about pre-university shopping at the start of September.
And us not saying goodbye didn’t ruin our relationship, nor make me forget about their existence (and I hope they’ve not totally forgotten about me too), it’s made it like we always have the potential to start talking and hanging out again whenever we feel like it, rather than a chapter of our lives being definitively closed. A bit like if you’re not in the same classes as this person at school, so you don’t see them every day, but they’re around the building and you get lunch in the same place, so you can slot back into a conversation easily. And I understand this model may not work for two people who I’ve known for like three months and will be in a different continent in a few days, but I’d like to try it; instead of ending an interaction or a relationship with a goodbye, I’d like to leave them open-ended, which may lead to us drifting apart with no real conclusion to our relationship (a bit like the last 90 filler episodes of the anime Naruto), but at least there’s the potential to talk about Ham-Cat or Ovid or some shit.
So if I don’t say goodbye to you it doesn’t mean I forgot you; it means I want to remember you.