How long is goodbye?

When you’ve just broadcast your departure for places farflung, it becomes kind of bad form to keep popping up in the spots people usually expect to see you.

Instead of the normal ‘hi- how are you’ sort of greetings, a quick visit to the supermarket or appearance at a neighbour’s party earns a whole bunch of variations on the “you still here?” theme. To the point you feel at tad fraudulent about farewelling anyone. Until the real departure. Then it all gets quite hard.

When you’ve had the ‘last’ dinner/lunch/coffee and you’re at the point where seeing someone is no longer going to be a daily/weekly event, it starts to feel just a bit final. A lucky token greenstone necklace delivered with an impromptu speech about friendship reduces me to tears. An outbreak of balloons at the ferry taking me off the island starts a pattern that oddly repeats.

A blue one, straying away from its companions floats gently out as the boat leaves. The rest – tied to the van – are eagerly divvied up by my four-year-old twin grandsons when I arrive at my next stop in Auckland to steadily meet the usual deflating fate of all their kind. But a few days later, as I pack to leave again, a stray white balloon wafts fatly into the backyard where I’ve been parked up, dancing around the wheels. I have no idea where it came from.

By then I’ve had to provide answers to endless repetitions from one twin of the same question. “But why are you going in your van and driving a long way away?”

An outbreak of bad behaviour later he tells his mum that he doesn’t want nana to leave.

It starts a whole round of questions in my own mind. Why exactly am I going? I have the best home, great friends, a loving partner, close family…..

I don’t know. There’s a restlessness for the things that I don’t know, the people I haven’t met, the roads I have never driven. And in a few weeks’ time, there will be my Mum – and a family Christmas with the South Island clan.

I hope it all makes sense as I go along.


About vjayne

I'm a writer / photographer usually based on Waiheke Island in New Zealand but currently traveling the country in "snail" - my mobile home and office. Along the way, I'm telling stories about the places I see or people I meet and building up a beautiful library of photos - of New Zealand's coastline and mountains, its walking tracks and wildlife. I'm happy to supply illustrated stories to New Zealand and offshore publications. My work background includes editing business and lifestyle magazines, crafting features on topics ranging from management and marketing to frogs and fashion, creating organisational narratives and promotional literature. Please visit my website for more information.
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1 Response to How long is goodbye?

  1. LisaRose says:

    The Nana Nomad has left remnants behind at our house. There’s the Apple Mac upstairs that the older children are eying up with some interest; the smoked fish and tonic water in the fridge that didn’t quite make it into the van’s fridge in the great pack up and move; the “Happy Bird Day” card received the day of the departure and of course the small boy who every day when we come down the drive is still asking “Where is Nana’s campervan? Why isn’t she back yet?”. A week to a small boy equals a BIG drive. We’ve tried to explain the concept of a year, but to him tomorrow is a lifetime away, and yesterday happened a long time ago. Then there’s the numerous Christmas events when we turn to each other and say “Perhaps we could ask Vicki?” and then remember there’s no chance this year – shows how much we have taken the Nana for granted!

    We have established Facebook contact for the small boys with Nana though, and a promise that if they’re good at daycare, they can post a message to Nana’s page and she will read it. There’s the random phone call from my father in Katikati to say “There’s a madwoman in a campervan here – do you know anything about this?”. There’s the promise of Christmas photos with the kids to send down to Oamaru to Great Nana, Nana and Auntie Jenny. The behaviour of the small boys is slowly improving as they settle down again. And most of all, an interesting blog to read from time to time!

    Hugs, kisses and interesting travels from the fixed-in-place family.

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