A Long Goodbye
I didn’t know what this summer in Canada was going to be all about when it started. It appeared at first to be one long waiting game with no purpose. Until that Saturday night in August around 9:30pm. It all started to came together when I heard this….
“On this useless night, with you so far away, I stand in front of this ferris wheel, and I wonder what am I doing here?” (blue rodeo)
This summer has been one long hard lesson in saying goodbye. Properly. It took some time to reveal itself as that but when it did I got it right in the gut. You can’t just foresake everything and move to a new land. You carry a lot of stuff with you. And that “stuff” is precious cargo.
I have been having a hard time feeling any kind of joy this summer. Because I’ve been missing. My joy these months comes from a photo / screensaver of a smile that I can’t wait to see again. A smile meant only for me. I’m missing what we’re building. Missing home. I’m missing. From my heart. So I have been working, meeting people, seeing friends, spending time with my loved ones at #39, and preparing for my return. Seemingly without focus.
Then I heard those familiar lyrics, on a night meant only for goodbyes, and I understood.
You see I was with my girls – Suzanne and Patricia – for a swim and cocktail before the Blue Rodeo concert. But as we noodled in the pool I found myself getting very nostalgic. Thinking back to parties, trips, conferences and good times. Feeling sad. Melancholy.
Then I heard Greg Keelor singing that song and my eyes opened wide. What the hell AM I doing here? This entire past year has been all about Morocco. All about my new life, loves, friends, businesses and adventures. I rode off pretty happily to a new land and while I heard “holy shit that’s brave,” “wow what a big move,” I didn’t really think so. I didn’t feel like it was that big a deal. The first 6 months I was there were a trial period. I wasn’t really gone because I was coming back for the summer. I had a “place” to come back to. A plan for the summer to learn more about the Canadian end of our businesses, clean up the rest of my stuff in Canada and prepare for a longer stay abroad.
I learned a long time ago never to say goodbye to people because the good ones always come back. The people who are meant to be with us in life will be. No matter what. So I didn’t really feel I was leaving the first time so much as going away.
But this time. This time when I return to Morocco it feels more permanent. I have a one way ticket. I have given up my apartment here. I own a business there but here I own none.
I started to feel like the “committee” (my word for the universe of souls that guides me) was putting the brakes on to slow down this train until I was able to catch up mentally. I felt like I was meant to reflect on what has been and what will be. I felt like I was being shown all the things that made me who I am as a reminder that while I am free to go off to North Africa and choose a new life, I must not forget how I got to this place.
I have always been a Blue Rodeo fan. Ever since Carolyn and Mike conspired to remove 5 Days in July from my car in Invermere for fear I might play it AGAIN. Since a different Mike, Katharine and I ran into them at the Moncton Airport. Since I had Glenn Milchem record a wedding wish for Suzanne’s nuptials. They are accessible. They are real people who walk among us. Friends you bump into once in awhile.
Their lyrics defined a long period of my life. First they were the backdrop for the end of my engagement. It was literally the only thing I listened to for MONTHS.
“You say that your leaving, well that comes as no surprise.”
“Sometimes the world begins to set you up on your feet again and oh it wipes the tears from your eyes.”
“Oh she loved the lines around his mouth.”
When I moved back to Ontario after my best (?) formative (at least) years out west, I listened to them sing of “walking through the tall pine trees high up above Lake Louise” and how I’d “rather be lying by the Bow River watching the clouds roll by than watching the latest war on my TV.” “I’d rather be back in the Rocky Mountains than sitting in some bar on Queen Street.” They provided the soundtrack for that life, buoyed my spirits when I left the west. Their songs were my anthems.
The Tragically Hip on the other hand, I was not such a HUGE fan of but they did get under my skin. I will never forgot Another Roadside Attraction with Dave, Ron, Carolyn, Mike, Craig. Listening to the HIP from the comfort of our campsite. Seeing them in concert with Suzanne. Going to Bobcaygeon to listen to Bobcayeon IN Bobcayegon.
But I heard a few people commenting that one or both of these concerts left them remembering a time in life that was better left forgotten. Hard times. Not so good times. Maybe partly true for me but I really remember is that era. That part of my life that I can never leave behind because it so much of who I am.
I have another friend that is out of place this summer. Having also chosen a different path in life she has been back here to sell her house. To wait it out. Cool her heels. And thank goodness because she is one of the people I love the most and we’ve had a nice long time to see each other, spend some time, and say a proper farewell to what came before. To find our way together in a new world where neither of us live here anymore. I’ve had a chance to come back to this place that I left. To experience it as “an outsider” and to know without any doubt that this PLACE is not in my future. I’ve had a chance to see Daisy and to know with all my heart that she is happy, in love with her new family, still in love with me. But happy. I’ve had a chance to see some great friends and spend some time. My friends that travel will always be right where I need them, when I need them, because they travel and that means they don’t exist in one place.
I’ve also had the chance to realize the consequences of my leaving. To know that those who represent “my family” will always be in my heart, but they too move forward. That’s the part that weighs most heavily. The new baby will come to this family and (inshall’ah) I will get to see its face and welcome it to this world, but I will not get to know it like I did the other two. My little loves. The family I love so dearly is changing with the addition of a whole new person, and they too are moving on to a whole new dynamic. Just like I am. Just like others are. Things are changing.
While I was deeply discontented this summer from a physical perspective because I was living in a temporary place and a basement at that. I spent way too much time inside and way too much time with a physical barrier right above my head. Literally holding me down. So convenient don’t get me wrong. I planned things perfectly and it worked out so well. But it’s been hard – emotionally. It’s been a bit of a mind trip.
And the people. I saw so many people that I love and plan to carry with me as I move forward in this new life of mine. I spent some really great time with friends. We made plans and we followed through on them because there was a time limit. It was the perfect social environment. A false one because of me leaving but perfect because I saw so many and had some really great times.
At first I was saying hello and telling tales of my adventures. I was reassuring people that I did move to North Africa and I did return. Just the same as before. As the summer wore on I spent the in between time with those I love. Advanced relationships that I know now are the solid ones that never waver. Enjoyed time with the littles that I love so much. But time started to tick down and I found myself getting together with these friends to say goodbye. Goodbyes that I never said before. I said goodbye not knowing when I might return. I said goodbye this time like I had a one way ticket to Morocco and no plans to return. And this time – I am going alone.
The first time I left, in January, everyone was excited and nervous and disbelieving. The encouragement and cheers and fascination at my strange behaviour buoyed my departure. But this time? This time everyone is comfortable. This is just what I do. I live in Africa. I’m safe. They are more comfortable that I am well taken care of there. They aren’t so worried. And now it’s my turn to worry. To doubt. To feel so sad that I am really going. It’s over here. My things are in storage. My business, my love, my belongings – they are in Morocco. I have transitioned. Fully. And it’s so much sadder than it was the first time. It’s so much harder to say goodbye. To know that major changes are happening to other people too. That things will take on a new shape this time and no one knows what the future holds.
So there it is. It took the two bands that guided me most in life to say a final farewell and make me realize that while I can and did change everything about my life over the past year and into the future, I still have some solid, precious, deeply rooted relationships that will but also survive. I have learned that I can live anywhere I choose, with whomever I want, and I can be and do whatever – but I will also take with me everything that came together to get me here.
So goodbye my friends. I take you with me. I hold you close to my heart. I will be the one crying on the plane this time. I missed Morocco so deeply when I arrived in June, and I long to return and get on with it. But not without a good long tug on my heart, some tears this time. Tears, but no regrets.