Hello, Goodbye

I don’t know why you say goodbye, I say hello.

Actually, I know exactly why you say goodbye. It’s because we’re going in different directions starting tomorrow. After this very wonderful time together, we’re parting ways, both hoping it’s not a forever kind of goodbye, it’s just an until the next time we see each other kind of goodbye.
Now the only thing left to sort out is the actual saying goodbye. This is where it gets a little tricky. I always go for the hug, and if you’re Italian, you’re going for the two cheek kisses. The two of us trying to execute our goodbye rituals at the same time has the potential to end in bruised collarbones and broken jaws. Then there’s the other transplants. Some have been living in Europe for upwards of a year now, although not all in Italy. There are apparently different rules in France for who gets a handshake and who gets the cheek kisses. But only if you’re a dude, and the other person is also a dude. Phew, I’m not a dude, so I’m safe there, everybody gets the cheek kisses. I can do that. In Italy, it’s simple, one kiss on each side for everybody. I think. It seems like how close you actually get to the person’s cheek is the variable dependant on how well you know them and how much you’ll miss them.

“Are we being Italian or North American!?!” Cries one colleague as we hover in front of one another, hesitating, hoping the other person will give us a cue for whether we’re supposed to be hugging or air-kissing.

“I don’t know!” I shout back.

“Both?!”

“Okay!” We both step forward. I go for the hug first, she goes for the cheek kiss. I notice that she’s going for the cheek kiss, and adjust accordingly. So does she. My jaw hits her collarbone. Dammit, this was what we were trying to avoid by talking about it first. Unfortunately we didn’t discuss order of operations. Fortunately, this is the kind of thing that we can laugh about.

We walk away with bittersweet smiles and bruised jaws and collarbones that will remind us that we’ve just said goodbye. Hopefully it is an until next time kind of goodbye, and the next time we see each other, we’ll agree.

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