I have never been one for goodbyes. Tending to have a semi-tragic attitude when it comes to saying farewell, I melodramatically forget that more likely than not, I will actually see my friends and family again this side of heaven. And even if I don't, the plethora of communication options available via internet make it almost impossible to actually ever forget a person. My penchant for the dramatic has quieted in recent years, but some people dear to my heart will never stop laughing about the night I cried in a sleeping bag on the living room floor at the thought of saying goodbye to Pittsburgh. ;-)
Just this week, though, my perspective may have started to truly change. My dear, sweet, friend and neighbor, Estelle, took me to an Asian teahouse (www.chingchingcha.com) before parting ways since she heads home to France for the rest of the summer and I set my face towards the East before she returns. While sitting on the floor, slowly sipping my rosebud brew, we discussed the passing of time and our hope to be reunited one day. I started to explain my attitude towards goodbyes, but something she said stopped me. "I like time." What? You like time? What could that mean? Time has always been my enemy. It is what causes us and our surroundings to change in between the goodbyes and hellos. There is never enough of it between the hellos and goodbyes. Time forces us to comply with its speed, when I so often want it to stop and let me be. Stop poking me in the back, Time. I want to stay where I am just little bit longer, ok?
But Estelle likes time. It heals, it teaches, it promises, it hopes. I started to think about my upcoming goodbyes. I thought about the goodbye I would soon say with Estelle, and in a couple weeks, the goodbyes to DC, and after that, goodbyes for my family. And I thought about my biggest fear concerning all of those goodbyes - what would the passage of time do to us? My automatic assumption was that time would not be nice. But what if it was? What if time didn't have it out for me? Estelle liked the passage of time; could I like it, too? "I will have to think about this," I told her.
I look back on my life and see that time's passing has only ever been a good thing. Sure there are pain and difficulties, but what does that have to do with time? Those come at any point, when we expect them or when we don't, when we are young or when we are old. Maybe, just maybe, I can starting seeing time as a gentle friend. I can leave behind the fear of something prodding me onwards and get to know the uncertain, but steady embrace of this thing that never lets us go. I struggle against it and loose. Why not hold its hand and enjoy the story time tells? The goodbyes won't be so painful and the hellos will hold more promise.
Hello, Time, my name is Hannah. Will you be my friend today?