February 20, 2009
That’s from Carson McCullers. Time is an idiot.
Being a child of divorce from an early age, I have abandonment issues. I know — pitiful. It’s not something on which I dwell; it’s just always at the back of my battered brain. What can you do.
I hate goodbyes. Absolutely hate them. I’m no good at them.
When my dad made his weekend visits on Sundays, we’d always do something simple like play miniature golf or go to a boat show at the local arena — something cheap because his advertising business wasn’t doing so well and he couldn’t afford child support, and my mom didn’t want to press the issue. She wasn’t one for confrontation. Sunday evenings were filled with the void of his absence and the memory of our simple day together.
When I was 24, a girlfriend came by my apartment after we’d broken up to get some stray things of hers. We found two pair of sunglasses we’d bought on a trip to the beach the year before and we put them on. We made silly faces in front of the bathroom mirror for a minute, which I tried to drag out into two. (Remember, I’m bad with goodbyes.) She said we looked goofy. That’s what she always liked about us. We hadn’t been so goofy lately. With the box of stuff under her tanned arm she said goodbye and walked out the door. Later that afternoon I got drunk and listened to “Life Without You” by Stevie Ray Vaughan about 20 times.
I never saw her again.
I got over her.
Two days before my wife and I moved from Florida to Georgia we had a huge blowout party. All our friends came. We partied our asses off. In the dark morning people trailed off one-by-one and two-by-two, depending on their relationship status at the time. I’m not ashamed to admit I cried when my best friends in the world got into their vehicles and slowly drove away, tail lights winking out of sight as they turned either north or south toward homes that I would very seldom revisit. Besides, it would never be the same.
God, I felt sick inside. So did my wife. But we had each other. And short years later we would have kids. And new friends. Still, it was tough. I get teary-eyed today just thinking about that night. Fuck.
I loathe goodbyes.
Paul Simon’s “Still Crazy After All These Years” chokes me up every single time I hear it. I try not to listen to it so much. I dislike appearing vulnerable.
I ran into an old friend at a graphic arts trade show here in Atlanta. I thought about the song. We most certainly “talked about old times and we drank ourselves some beers” and through the laughter I felt a self-conscious melancholy for the years that had slipped away, for the dreams we never realized. I imagined our younger selves in the shadows of the bar laughing at our pitifully stressed current selves. What happened to the drunken poets we were to become?
My parents are of an age when the time for goodbyes is closer than we think. That will be rough. I’m reminded of another song: Bob Dylan’s “Buckets of Rain.” He says, “Life is sad, life is a bust, all you can do is do what you must. Do what you must do and you do it well.” That’s brutal, but it strengthens me somewhat. I put up a brave front for those who depend on me. Still, there’s that nagging feeling.
People come, people go. I know. I’ll always hate goodbyes.
Time can kiss my ass.