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.

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JIM SIMPSON is an award-winning fiction writer and freelance music critic. A native of the wilds of Florida's Gulf Coast, he now resides on the scruffy fringes of Atlanta, Georgia.

He frequently writes about music, with his taste spanning all genres: Bluegrass, Americana, Classic Country, Alternative Country, Western Swing, Blues, Classical, Rock 'n' Roll, Punk, Reggae, Klezmer, and British Isles Folk (to name but a few).

He once sang Happy Birthday (with about 10,000 other people) to Joni Mitchell, and has seen such legends as Miles Davis, The Incredible Jimmy Smith, Rockpile, Blue Rodeo, King Sunny Ade, David Bowie, Joan Jett, Robyn Hitchcock, R.E.M., Elvis Costello and Bob Dylan live in concert. He has interviewed such musical luminaries as Those Darlins, John Linnell of They Might Be Giants, Marshall Chapman, Charlie Louvin, Derek Hoke, Jim Avett, the Secret Sisters, and Meghan McCormick.

Jim has been at work on his first novel for longer than he originally planned, and if all goes well it should be in bookstores sometime before his death.

2 responses to “Time, the Endless Idiot, Runs Screaming ‘Round the World”

  1. Jim Simpson says:

    Original comments follow:

    Comment by Kimberly M. Wetherell
    2009-02-20 23:30:19

    Funny.

    I have been thinking about this very thing a lot lately – how to cope with moving on and how it isn’t always a good thing – either for the leavers OR the left-behind.

    (My bestest friend just moved across the sea, and while there’s skype and emails, etc., it just isn’t the same. We’re both suffering serious withdrawal right now.)

    The one thing that’s certain? Goodbyes suck ass. Big time.

    Great post! It’s been a while, Jim. Glad you’re back!
    Reply to this comment

    Comment by James Simpson
    2009-02-20 23:44:29

    Shared experiences and constant contact are very important. It’s a sad fact that friends drift apart with distance. I think I need a TNB group hug. Maybe we should all meet up in, I don’t know, say, Austin, TX? Home of my favorite disbanded band, The Reivers (aka Zeitgeist). It’s good to be back and to be read by the likes of you.
    Reply to this comment
    Comment by Kimberly M. Wetherell
    2009-02-21 00:01:47

    I would go to Austin in a New York minute! There’s this AMAZING place for cheap mexican just off of 6th St…

    Just say the word. I’m loving meeting as many ‘Brokedown’ writers as I can! 6 down, 100+ to go!
    Reply to this comment

    Comment by James Simpson
    2009-02-21 00:13:03

    This could be awesome. I love Austin almost as much as I <3 NYC. Rent a house there…camping in the yard….hmmm.
    Reply to this comment

    Comment by jmb
    2009-02-21 12:18:22

    I said this to another TNBer recently something along these lines but the boundaries and cruelties of time make me both agnostic and Believer.

    Surely there is a place with no goodbyes, where everything you lost comes back for good and time can no longer steal all that you love.
    I hope.
    Reply to this comment
    Comment by Jim
    2009-02-21 17:07:50

    There was a place just like this. It was called King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut. East Village. NYC. Ahhh.
    Reply to this comment
    Comment by jmb
    2009-02-22 01:55:05

    Ah see Jim, there’s the problem.

    Was.

    Another casualty of time.

    Where is the place with no was?
    (Comments wont nest below this level)
    Comment by Jim
    2009-02-22 09:58:53

    Clermont Lounge. Atlanta, GA.

    Is what it is.

    Comment by jmb
    2009-02-22 17:54:07

    Ah yes.

    I had a post awhile back that featured the good old Claremont.
    Many a good afternoon spent on the Creature From the Black Lagoon pinball machine.

    Comment by Jim
    2009-02-23 16:07:32

    Yes, I remember your Clermont post well; funny how your comment led me down that road.

    Reply here

    Comment by Lenore
    2009-02-21 14:11:37

    ugh, me toooooo. i am the queen of nostalgia. goodbyes are the worst. i also have abandonment issues. but i’m super weird about it. i sort of want abandonment. luckily you seem to have found happiness, so i’m assuming i will get that, too.

    i also LOVE music that makes me want to cry and hurt myself. right now, frightened rabbit is doing a good job. check them out. also antony and the johnsons. he’s this really tall transgender guy and the songs are horrifyingly sad and all the album art is portraits of AIDS trannies on their death beds. it’s great.
    Reply to this comment
    Comment by Jim
    2009-02-21 16:10:41

    I neglected to mention that I have no problem saying goodbye to certain people and situations. They don’t count, though.

    You’re making up that last band. Sounds like a horrific yet campy cross between The Smiths and Marilyn Manson. Right now I’m enjoying Prolapse — yes, “the government of Spain IS all evil!”
    Reply to this comment
    Comment by Lenore
    2009-02-21 16:29:17

    no! antony and the johnsons is real! he sounds like nina simone, oddly.
    seriously, he’s amazing.
    (Comments wont nest below this level)
    Comment by Jim
    2009-02-21 17:05:01

    So, she’s a he now? Donor penis?

    Comment by Jim
    2009-02-21 17:16:40

    OH! He was on Letterman! I see now. Even more oddly, he looks like my oldest daughter’s best friend!

    Reply here

    Comment by Erika Rae
    2009-02-22 00:19:51

    There’s a reason I don’t wear a watch. Hate that bastard, Time.

    ( :

    Good to see you, Jim.
    Reply to this comment

    Comment by MartyKC
    2009-02-22 06:42:16

    Time may be an idiot, but it’s no fool. It’s cruel. We never see things so clearly as after we say good-bye. We can eat a whole bag of cookies, but why is it the LAST one we savor with the intensity all of them deserve?

    For pure heart ache and melancholy, nothing better than Tom Waits,”Yesterday is Here”.

    Like Lenore, sometimes I purposely look for the feeling. Create it. (Addicted to it) It’s intense. Much more intense than happy memories. It’s the blast furnace where creativity is forged.

    Nice post.
    Reply to this comment

    Comment by kristin
    2009-09-25 21:40:11

    “buckets of rain” is my favorite bob dylan song. when my previous boyfriend and i broke up, i put that album on my record player and laid down on the floor and had a good cry… i probably listened to that song about… oh, 23 times… moving the needle back and returning to the floor each time. it sounded even better from the floor.

  2. durkhaima says:

    2016, hope goodbyes are a little easier 🙂

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