Sorry for the Irish goodbye.

Today there was just enough sun to be out in the hammock with a book. As I lay swinging under a scarf that’s also a blanket, a little mow? beside me draws my attention to my housecat-turned-wilderness-explorer, looking for a way into the hammock. He tries putting his little paws on the edge, which simply causes it to swing out of his reach. I hoist him up.

I am reading a literary journal, leant to me by a friend before my departure. The editor’s letter refers to a phrase by Pico Iyer that says, “we travel most when we stumble,” a sentiment that feels truly familiar. I’ve only ever left when staying became impossible. When some heartbreak or other caused me to stumble over the edge, the sensation being what I imagine a lobster must feel before finally shedding it’s too-small shell, finally admitting that staying is more uncomfortable than going, than the unknown.

I love the way the time stretches here. Mornings reading by the fire with a cup of tea, wandering down to the river, horseback rides in the woods… I’m trying to feel it all lightly. To know that even though I’ll say goodbye eventually, I can come back here. And if I never do, that’s okay too.

The goodbyes have always been the hardest part. I’ve gone a lot of places, and the “going” always fills me with dread. The dull ache in the pit of my stomach the weeks before, becoming a constant lump in my throat in the final days. My grandfather saying, don’t worry, we’ll water your houseplants for you, is too much to bear. My mom waving goodbye in her housecoat from the driveway is a tiny tragedy all its own.

As unceremonious as it may be, maybe I understand the Irish goodbye. Maybe that’s why I did it, when I left town. Or maybe I was afraid he didn’t care for the goodbye nearly as much as I did. That in doing it, I would see that it didn’t split his life into before and after, like it did mine. That maybe barely seeing his silhouette in the hallway, as he headed out into the five a.m dark for work, and quietly whispering the word without giving away my intention to be gone before he was back… maybe that was the only way. But I guess the letting go, the goodbye, the walking away, I guess it doesn’t have to make the thing left behind any less special. It doesn’t mean it wasn’t good, while it existed. Right?

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