Day 1–Departure Day

Never Can Say Good-Bye

leaving, loaded up

I am not good with change. I didn’t look down from the Parrott’s Ferry Bridge, which was built to hover over the once-wild and scenic Stanislaus River, now the bland, murky Melones Reservoir, for 10 years. I could not bear to see that river canyon submerged. My hairstyle is pretty much the same since first grade, give or take my mom’s disastrous bowl cut for Kindergarten and an equally unflattering Dorothy Hamill do before Freshman year. I know I cried with the Hamill wedge because my long, coarse hair did not replicate Dorothy’s sleek, straight and bouncy work of art. My tombstone will read, “Still Stuck in Sonora.”


So, I sit here in the Sacramento Airport, waiting to begin this year-long odyssey. with a mixed bag of emotions. The last few weeks of my life have been fraught with change. Room by room in our house nestled a mile from Columbia State Historic Park, a preserved gold rush town that never changes, I have sifted through clothes, books, mementos, photos, receipts, electronic gear for phones we no longer possess, and I have packed, trashed, garage-saled, Salvation Armied, hand-me-downed, and cleared away our worldly possessions. I disconnected our land-line, saying so long to 532-8898, a number that contains our wedding anniversary and was such a romantic thing to do 15 years ago.


Day by day, I have been saying good-bye to my wonderful clients, my son Liam’s Waldorf teacher, Molly Ragland, whom he has had for four years, my community, Farmer’s Market Saturdays, my spirit home Lake Tahoe, my sweet friends, Liam’s sweet friends, and my family. An important person in my life said that I had to say the words “good-bye” to them because it validated the depth and meaning of our relationship. It was too hard. We went to see Man of Steel instead, but then at one in the morning, with nowhere to hide, I yelled “Good-Bye” while the sound of my voice echoed off the empty spaces and concrete of WalMart. I sobbed.


It’s not like I have some traumatic good-bye in my past. My dad didn’t go off to war. My mom stayed at home. Even my grandparents lived long lives. We moved once. My older brothers left home and came back for holidays. So I think my reluctance to sever a moment with a good-bye is more about keeping connected. I will rarely be the first to leave a party. Good-byes in anyone’s driveway are dubbed the “Italian good-bye” due to their ever-lingering effect. I just want to feel that connection with something be it person, place, or object. The things I love are precious to me.


The unbearable good-bye was last night to my mom. How do you say it? How do you go away for a year, taking her grandson with you, when each day, each jump in the pool, each Giants game and hot fudge sundae are so darn precious? What could possibly be out there in the great, wide world worth saying that good-bye for?


As I sat in the beat up Subaru that someone else would have dumped a few years ago, I cried. I explained to my 10-year old son that it has been a very hard few weeks of sad good-byes. My heart is heavy with them. I don’t want to go. I don’t want to leave my cozy Pottery Barn couch, my generous boss, the red-tailed hawk couple we know as Tommy and Mary, the smell of tarweed in September that reminds me of my dad, Waldorf Halloween, hanging the Christmas lights, the season premier of Mad Men, dancing around the Maypole, a dinner invitation to Diamondback, the first rosebud blooming. Too much change. Too many good-byes filling up the minutes before we leave. And Liam says to me, “Just think though, after this it is all hellos from here on out and it will get funner and funner!”


So let the great world spin. The beginning has been blessed already with Little J giving us a ride to the airport and the 3 of us volunteering to be bumped from our flight in return for $1400 in air vouchers, free food, and an upgrade to business class. It delays our flight out by five hours, our arrival in Cleveland by about 8. Perhaps this unexpected layover in Sacramento is fate’s way of giving me an Italian good-bye, lingering here in California, my home, before this year of changes.


1 Comment

  1. Susan Day

    Loving reading your words – seeing the photos – still feeling connected. Missing you at the office but so happy for you to be doing this amazing journey with Liam and Jim.

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