Friday, May 24, 2013

Saying Goodbye

This truly difficult topic is brought to us this week by Padmini (Padmum).  It is not that it is a bad topic in any way, just difficult.

I am going to sidestep the worst of the goodbyes, the death of loved ones.  We have had too many of those over the past few years and we have a few to go.  The saddest of all is the saying goodbye our good friends had to do at Arlington this past week for their son, a decorated Green Beret, a fine young man, an artist.  He died in Afghanistan.

No, I'd rather look at simpler, more manageable goodbyes, for I have found them painful nonetheless.  Leaving Kansas to move to California was brutal.  It gives me an appreciation of my ancestors coming across the Great Pond to start a new life in America.  It is a story that continues today for so many here.  And it is HARD!  To leave what you have known, who you have known, your family, your friends, your entire support system.  It is like a tender plant being uprooted from its birth place and transplanted to another soil, a move that may or may not take.  Many have tried to migrate and have failed the transplant and I have experienced why.  Many are the nights you feel bereft, the days you feel lost.

But, that obviously is not the entire story, else I would be back in Kansas.  I am here because first there were new friends that I bonded with and the pain and loneliness lessened with shared experience.  More importantly, I met my mate!  Suddenly, my roots were to the center of the Earth.

There was another side to this situation.  My parents had to say goodbye to me.  Not goodbye, I'd never call again.  Not goodbye, that I had turned by back.  Not goodbye that they could not visit.  No, the goodbye that says, "Our boy is half a continent away and we won't see him often, like we always have."

Migration is a painful and selfish move.  It is like creativity, for it requires denial of what is because what can be must be sought.  It is driven by something inside an individual.  It is a cause unto itself.

I admire the courage of the migrants who have ventured forth over the eons, for if not for the pain they endured, we would be a group of somewhat advanced apes living in Africa, clinging to the known.  It's more difficult than we often credit it to be.


  1. Is migration selfish? I don't know, Conrad. Like autumn leaves in the wind we are sent flying - and find ourselves. Somewhere.

    I suppose I was 'lucky'. My father's career meant that I was uprooted every five minutes and plonked somewhere else. Either by temperament or design, I find it easy to settle anywhere, make friends. Maybe I am one those plants you mention - not tender, robust. Do I hanker after roots? Sure. But then, see above, my roots are where I am. At any one given moment. My one and only dread being transplanted to the Moon or Mars. Then what? Soil alkaline or acid or plain refusing itself?

    As to our offshoots uprooting: Well, that's a different and emotionally more painful story. One I haven't yet lived.

    Good bye? No. I far prefer both the hopeful French 'Au revoir' and the German 'Auf Wiedersehen'.

    See you again,


  2. I'll go with the Hawaiian Aloha - serves as hello and goodbye. I was not happy when uprooted from Colorado and moved to California until the day I met a bunch of kids at my new school when my mom was registering me. Plus, with the neaqrly instant communication and social media available it's much easier to start over - although I confess I still get misty eyed when I hear California Bloodlines and Scott McKenzie's San Francisco.

  3. In irish we say: Slán agat or slán leat, but I like the Islandic Bless!

  4. @Ursula

    I think migration is selfish only in that it is costly to others as the needs of that self are satisfied. Selfish is not only not bad, it is necessary in some situations.

    It always seems to me like your everyday life as you portray it in your writings has a lot of difficulty in it, that it is more stressful than my everyday existence. Is this true? Or is it more that your rhetorical style leads to that impression?

    When the Angel leaves, I think you will feel the other side of the equation. It is easier now that we have better communication. When I moved to California, I could only afford about a 10 minute call every two weeks or so and that made it more difficult than it is now.

    1. How very perceptive you are, Conrad: Yes, my everyday life has a lot of difficulty in it. It's been the devil's own job the last few years. Day after day after day. Nothing that can't be conquered. Except I can't conquer it. This minute.

      The Angel. Yes, the Angel. He is firmly rooted. Not least in himself. And has pronounced his desire to go where the wind takes him, in the knowledge that he will always have a base to return to. If ever there was an incentive to keep me going.


  5. @shackman

    Social media definitely makes it easier.

  6. @Grannymar

    Yes, it helps to wrap it in a wise perspective. There are still pangs, but they don't have to be quite so debilitating.

  7. In my case the migration is a bit easier because I know I am not staying here permanently. That kind of move would be the hardest.

  8. @Delirious

    I'm in total agreement.

  9. Nostalgia for one's roots is as natural as the urge for migration. I can relate to your post on these two aspects of leaving somethings behind.

    Apart from the old migration stories about the early migration like the Oregon Country by T J Hanson, I have recently been seeing a reverse process taking place in popular writing. Take a look at this one - Fascinating.

  10. @Rummuser

    I can very much relate to what this book points to, since that is the life I have lived. What I have found in the more urban and suburban lifestyle that brings the need for community forth is the community that develops around neighborhood needs, cultural similarities in immigrant populations, school and church groups like our school choir or church outreach, etc. These small groupings provide so much of what the small town provides, the sense of community that is so necessary. They also tend to bring the narrow thinking that accrues to each focus, for the very same warmth and huddling together, the bonding, can become exclusion of all things "foreign and wrong." It is kind of an eternal tradeoff, but not a minor thing that should simply be dismissed.

    Thank you for tossing that book into the mix.

  11. @Ursula

    Here's to running the devil back into his own lair! May your life iron out so you can enjoy if with a little less effort.

    The Angel will always please you, I think. He sounds like a marvelous young man!

  12. Conrad, is that YOU? I didn't realize that you were blogging, again. Couldn't stay away, could you? :)

    By the way, what's with the oxymoron - "old fossil"? ;)

    As a first generation Canadian, I fully appreciate the trials my parents went through to come to Canada. There was no support - no language classes, unless they paid for it, no job placement. It was a fend for yourself time.

    One of my gigs was teaching ESL to newcomers - a government sponsored program which was meant to provide immigrants with basic life skills so that they could find work. Even with the support on this land, they still struggled, with language, with culture and with missing loved ones.

    Right from the beginning, humans wander - tearful good-byes, and cheerful hellos. I feel a song coming on - The Circle of Life.

  13. @Marianna

    I switched over right away after my old blog fell under siege. I wish I had let you know, because you are always welcome to share in the festivities!

    Old Fossil? Just silliness. Even though the name has redundancy, the metaphor isn't so bad if you read the philosophy behind it, which I have as a page on here somewhere.

    And, I guess this beginning over here is an apt place for your re-entry into my little circle, for we are saying goodbye to the old blog - which I did love - and hello to this new one which offers me a refreshing new (old) perspective. Circle of life indeed!


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