Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Long Goodbye

I've never been good at saying goodbye. Well, maybe that's not entirely true. I have made a great show of saying farewell to family and friends over the years, but there was always just a taste of bitterness back in those long-ago partings. I was the one who was inevitably going to be staying put. I was the one who would hold down the fort. As friends from high school began to drift away, I kept my place. I was easy to find. Even when I went away to college, I only lasted a week at the first one. Classes hadn't even started before I bounced back. A year later when I travelled down the highway once again, I came back nearly every weekend, and when that year was done I came bounding back to my hometown, ready to settle in for another decade or so.
In the meantime, my pals were all searching out their futures: careers, wives, husbands. Each new connection created a new address, a new phone number. As base camp, it became increasingly difficult for me to keep an eye on all the ships at sea.
Then, one day, I caught a flight to the coast. While I was there, I noticed that I didn't turn to dust, nor did the folks back home. Everything remained more or less the same, but I was somewhere else. Why not try doing that for a little longer? How about nineteen years? Now I understand the adventure that was out there, all those years. Now I understand how people fell off that map I had so carefully constructed. I still keep a long Christmas card list, and I'm always surprised when I don't get something back from everyone on that list. I know that some people have slipped quietly from that list, while other faces have reappeared. New faces filled in the gaps, and I'm told that if I were only on Facebook, I wouldn't have to pine for any of those who may have gone missing.
Instead, I see a more galactic model. Those at the center are bound tightly, while other more distant stars spin off onto the spiral arms, only to be seen on rare occasions. These are events. When I encounter those distant world in my travels, or when they drift past through the void, I am amazed at how familiar it all seems. Those are the moments that I await the inevitable collapse of the universe. When everything will be compressed into this one little spot, and we will be together again.

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