When the le(a)vee breaks…

Goodbyes are weird, and that is probably in the best case scenario. People seem reluctant to admit the real possibilities that out of sight may mean out of mind for any number of reasons. There are also the residual effects that remain in the place of a newly created absence, for the leav-ee as well as those who remain in situ. And goodbyes are odd, fraught as they are with all sorts of preconditioned expectations and assumptions. Should you celebrate departure? Bemoan it? Mourn it? Ignore it? Is there some sort of significance that can be divined from the way that people react to one’s leaving? Is it about you? Or is it about them? Moreover, does anyone really ever leave?

Goodbyes are awkward, and that is probably always true. People seem to want to emote just the exact appropriate amount, yet I find on both sides of any leaving, it is always too much or too little… we never seem to arrive at the perfect equilibrium of sentiment. And goodbyes bring up so much stuff, for the leav-ee as well as those who bid adieu. What does the departure mean? Why do some folks come and go and others do only the one? Is it a judgement? A condemnation? An immature obsession with elsewhere greener grass, or an understanding that all things change?

Change certainly happens.

On a tram in the sweltering humidity I watch the city I have called home for five and a half years go by. I hear music and laughing and see people I knew would be there and I do not see people I thought would be there and I see people who are just glad to be there at all. I see change one night as I am out to dinner with an old friend who offered so much at every opportunity to do so and on another night with a new friend with whom I believe an interesting friendship will develop. I do not know when or if I will see them again. Sharing incongruously delightful comida Mexicana with equally incongruous girlfriends at a final dinner party in my house that has hosted so many, I see how different we are from how we were; it is hopeful. Saying goodbye to parents of a now 20 month old who I knew as a baby bump, I feel thankful to know such a vast variety of humans. As they go others come and soon there is one final impromptu party in the house that threw quite a few. At one in the morning I think that I am lucky to know these kinds of people who are so apparently unique but just like me in some way or another. On a boat, in the rain, I look out on the South China Sea and around and see people who have been such a part of my life for the past four years. They change. We change. I have changed.

Walking back to my house, my house for less than 48 more hours, I see more familiar faces. They are leaving soon, too. For the summer. In the next few days lots of people will go to avoid humidity and mosquitoes, that nibble on every available surface area, even now while I type. To France. To the UK. To Canada. To India. To Australia. To Sri Lanka. They will go. But they will come back and I cannot say if I will. I may, but I may not. When eleven year-old Olivia hears this she says, “But, what about Norman?”

“Well, I guess we will all just keep looking for Norman,” I say. And I mean it, as I look up at the return of the rain, though neither she nor I am satisfied with the answer; it seems too weird. Too different. That is change for you. But it sure keeps on raining.

If it keeps on raining levee’s going to break
If it keeps on raining levee’s going to break

When the levee breaks have no place to stay

Mean old levee taught me to weep and moan
Mean old levee taught me to weep and moan
Got what it takes to make a Mountain Man leave his home.


About Amanda

I am repatriating expatriate trying to work it all out. Well, to work some of it out anyhow. I am writing here for sanity, focus and general over-sharing.
This entry was posted in Family, Friends, Home, Hong Kong, Life, Philosophical Underpinnings, Relationships, true stories and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to When the le(a)vee breaks…

  1. Stacy says:

    What a beautiful post. I completely understand what you are going through but in a different setting right now. Good luck with your travels!

  2. Pingback: A New Situation. | No, THIS is how you do it…

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