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Published: November 28th 2019
I hate goodbyes.
I always have. I hate the unknown of when the goodbye will be turned to a hello again. I hate the worry, it will be too long. I hate the thought of the finality of it all.
I also hate the ripe opportunity for overthinking the entire interaction. “Was I too quick to leave?” “Did the other person feel I was genuine in my farewell?” “How do I end this move along without being offensive or appearing curt?”
There is just too much room for error in a goodbye. Too many social norms, too many expectations and too many different styles of how to seamlessly bid adieu. Everyone has their own way of doing it and I suppose that is just a mirror into our distinct personalities.
Every Sunday evening I face the dreaded goodbye of leaving Shamrock Farms to return to Kansas City. I literally leave one part of my life to go be present in a completely different part of my life. Two very wonderful lives with more gifts than one can ever hope to obtain. But saying goodbye to the animals, the family, the beauty
and the serenity is difficult even with many years of consistent practice.
This goodbye has a ritual of it’s own. If the camels see me leaving, I kiss them, assure them I love them and tell them how many days until I will return. If they are out grazing and don’t notice me getting into my truck, I slip into the driver’s seat and literally sneak away. This is obviously for my benefit, not theirs.
And as I drive down the long driveway, Dad and Lambeau go stand in the same spot in the yard, rain or shine, and wave until I am out of sight. Dad uses the moment to show his love and Lambeau tolerates the time it takes before they move onto their next task.
I spend the next 90 minutes or so preparing to exchange one goodbye for a welcome hello in the city.
Some goodbyes, like that one are more transitional, assuming all goes as planned. But what about the goodbyes that feel less certain or the goodbyes with no promise of a hello?
Like everyone, I detest the
ultimate goodbye. I see funerals as something to endure, not something to remember. How we handle those sort of goodbyes, is so subject to our individual personalities.
I remember the night I got a text from a good friend who was struggling with a very recent diagnosis cancer, a diagnosis much more serious than she chose to publicize.
“I am going to another part of California.”
“Oh? To see some better specialists?”
“No, to drink some stuff so that I can leave this world.”
And that was that. I did not hear from her again despite my frantic flurry of communication attempts. That was how she handled goodbyes.
Nothing like those final goodbyes, but still significant, are the goodbyes that come with travel. The farewells we say to the people we crossed paths with, the “see you agains” we feel to the cities and countries we briefly call home and the ominous goodbyes we feel for the spirit of a place...the culture, history or excitement it once brought us when we first set out to explore it. Sometimes we know we will be back, sometimes we know it will never
be the same if we choose to return.
Even with a wonderful life or set of lives I have awaiting me Stateside, I never want to end a trip. NEVER. I unapologetically own that about myself. But there have been some goodbyes more painful than others.
Not long ago on a trip home, I had tears falling down my cheeks with the dread of going home, coupled by the fear of not seeing some friends again, along with the sheer childlike innocence of not wanting the fun to end.
I try to travel with an “I will never be here again” zest of doing whatever intrigues me, tempered with a “you are young, you can return if you’d like” permission to slow down and enjoy.
The problem is, sometimes you can’t really return. I remember when we told Syria goodbye. In our minds it was a temporary goodbye because her draw, history, mystic and beauty meant she just must be another chapter in our travel book. But obviously governments, war and full on tragedy have postponed, but most likely edited, that opportunity.
There is a
part of me that wonders where Pushkar, most particularly, the camel fair fits into my future passport adventures. Will I ever be back? Will I ever find the spark of excitement it once offered? Will I ever see these regular characters who played their role in the multiple chapters set in this part of Rajasthan?
With the camel population dwindling, the government support for the Raika lacking and Camp Bliss taking a moment to plot it’s next destination, I can’t help but assume this trip was my farewell tour. Not of India, but certainly of this quaint but exciting little town of Pushkar.
Each year has a been a reluctant but realistic goodbye to the camels that used to dominate the spotlight of this historical fair. Newbies report there are lots of camels and I embrace that their ignorance provides them bliss, but my mind shoots back to a time when Camel Hill was nothing but sand dunes completely covered with camels and their noble caretakers, the Raika.
Damn I hate goodbyes.
Whether I knew it or not, I suppose this chapter was my
long, slow goodbye to the Pushkar Camel Fair and all of the camel-centric glory it provided in previous chapters. Goodbye Pushkar, my dear friend. May we someday meet again?
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