They say, you know those folks who say what they say; it is going to be hot and humid for the next week. I guess after a wonderful winter and soothing spring, it is time for summer in this burg. Being below the Mason-Dixon line, summers are hot. Not like dry Arizona heat or as humid as Louisiana heat, but hot enough to get soaked after an hour of working in the yard. So I will settle back to six months of sweating and change to little boy pants.
The daily trip to the grocery store maybe slower and I may enjoy their air conditioning more even though I may offend, but that is what summer is all about. I’ll see if the ceiling fans I had installed last winter will keep the little house cool.
As I travel through the neighborhood getting my bearings and making those deep intake/outtake breathes that refreshes the body I pass a group of people. Typical group of people who I do not know but nod to me with my daily intrusions onto their street.
The group seems like neighbors discussing neighborly stuff when a fellow walks up. After what appears a communal welcome I overhear “Don’t know if you know this”, he says, “I’m leaving tomorrow.”
I had noticed a house for sale sign down the block so I immediately thought this was his announcement to his neighbors he was about to move out. I’m sure the neighbors will give their best wishes and goodbyes and wonder who the next person to invade their neighborhood will be.
Then I thought about that phrase: “I’m leaving tomorrow”. A statement like that puts a finite on a relationship. Shoot, it put a sudden period on an interaction between people.
Now communications may still exist but the physical distance will change. With the distant, lack of daily sharing of events, the connection will, as I say, grow vanilla. The other person may have wonderful and maybe a life-changing occurrence but you are not close enough to give support or advice or share in the joy or sorrow except through some keystrokes.
The communication between those who have left is all about the past for they have no idea what is planned for the future. They cannot share on each other’s children or that wonderful recipe that was a hit at parent’s night or the night spent in the waiting room or celebrate the purchase of a new car or the recent planting of blueberries. Cards and pictures and brief comments cannot say the same statements as sitting on a porch together over a couple of beers watching the sun go down.
Have you ever noticed when we gather? We have the strangest behavioral pattern. We first do our usual greetings and salutations, and then we find a place to put our stuff, then back to find a comfortable pattern of conversation. Whether for one hour or a weekend together, we chat and laugh and converse in the most polite fashion.
Then when we are about to pack up and depart to various places, intimate subjects come out. It happens in families, friends and even with fellow workers. We wait for the last minute to bring up a topic that could have been an in-depth story or revealing thought that might have produced a fruitful and rewarding and possibility helpful discussion from people you trust and love. For some strange reason we don’t want to share these secrets with others or we wait for the last minute to bring it up.
“Bobby is going off to the army” or “Mandy is pregnant” or “My uncle Billy is coming to live with us” or “I’m getting a divorce” or “I just spent my 401K on comic books” or “I never graduated” or “Do these pants make me look fat” are all subjects that should have been brought up earlier in the conversation. Yet we wait for the last minute. That is why “Good-byes” take so long.
Just hop on the plane or train or bus or climb in the car and say, “See yah” and be off into the mystery of another land. Perhaps it is easier that way than announcing you are leaving?
When you know you only have another day to be intimate with this other person what do you do? Make the grandest meal anyone has ever tasted or perhaps offer to take him or her out to the best restaurant in town to celebrate your compatibility? Get drunk over a bottle(s) of fine wine telling old tales and remembering things that should have been forgotten? Take that long walk to try and explain all the misconceptions of years of understanding or misunderstandings in one night? Celebrate the times together and reveal the secrets of the past?
You just never know. Suppose, just suppose, the statement of “I’m leaving tomorrow” meant like forever? That would put a different spin on things. There isn’t a timeline on living and dying or a clock set for when it happens, but we all know it happens. No one gets out of here alive.
Extra pressure question: What would you do if you knew within the next 24-hours the other person would be gone – forever? If the person is a passing fantasy or a particle acquaintance that statement may not be so shocking, but if this comes from a person who you hold close for whatever reason, what would you do?