We Don’t Say Goodbye Around Here

I imagine the worst day in a traveling circus is always closing night. Whatever friends were made must be left behind at that last show. The audience is ready to forget you. Maybe in a couple of weeks, someone will ask if they caught the circus while it was in town. Otherwise, it will all be forgotten except in the faces of the little ones when they look out at bright lights in the night and think about the high wire act.

I’ll have to roll my suitcase down the street to catch a bus. I almost can’t pack because of the hatred of that moment tomorrow. The suitcase will be obscenely heavy for having almost none of my life in it.

Of all the personal items we keep, the suitcase is the least romantic. If you ever see someone trying to make a suitcase nostalgic, you can bet they dressed it up. It’s never a suitcase you’d get off a carousel at O’Hare. It’s a backpack or an exotic canvas bag that is completely impractical. It’s a giant chest that you carried on your back through Europe and now sits at the end of the bed holding all of your quilts.

I just have a key to drop off and I will wave to a couple of friends. We don’t say goodbye around here. We try not to feel much in these in between moments. Things will settle again because who could live like this for too long?

Someday, I want you to feel a goodbye. I want you to understand the emotion when you look in her eyes as she sets sail and contemplate the odds you will run into each other again. I want this to be tough for you because emotions will be the string that brings you back together, that leads to a grand hello.

Is it worth remembering after the truck pulls away? Should we always forget the baggage of our past? What about the suitcases tossed under the stairs with broken zippers and tags that say Milwaukee? Although, you’re sure no one has ever flown from Milwaukee. What can these reminders give you? Pictures fade, even in a digital age, and forgetting is better than this feeling.

To talk now of things that might have been seems like the worst solution. Let’s talk about things that never were. Let’s create our alternative futures. Let’s add a spark.

Let’s find joy now. After the show, the tent must be packed and the elephants must fall in line. The clown shoes must fit in my suitcase. Although not in a tidy way because we’re not going to be sentimental.