AI: Hellos and Goodbyes

I’ve spent a fair amount of time in airports in the past year.  One of my favorite pastimes is people watching in airports. It somehow seems that people are at their best and worst during hellos and goodbyes and, of course, you see a lot of those at airports.

For me, 2009 was a year of hellos and goodbyes.  I got to meet a whole bunch of Skepchicks and skeptics that I had not met before at TAM and on various trips.

Why can't we be like this all the time?
Three generations of Skepchicks :)

It was also a year of goodbyes, or at least farewells. Yesterday, uber-Twitterer Stephen Fry announced that he is saying farewell to Twitter and various other online activities to focus on writing his autobiography. Sometimes, saying goodbye is the healthy thing to do, to keep your own sanity and I discovered that in some of the goodbyes I said last year. But most of the farewells I had to say were bittersweet. Our fearless leader left the U.S. and although we never lived in the same town, it’s much harder having her in an entirely different time zone and it really does sometimes feels like a world away.

She wouldn't leave me the vodka, though...

What’s the toughest goodbye you’ve ever had to say? What was the best hello?

The Afternoon Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Skepchick community. Look for it to appear daily at 3pm ET.


Maria D'Souza grew up in different countries around the world, including Hong Kong, Trinidad, and Kenya and it shows. She currently lives in the Bay Area and has an unhealthy affection for science fiction, Neil Gaiman and all things Muppet.

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  1. The worst goodbye I ever had to say was to the other kids I had spent a year with in a fellowship program. It was for jewish kids, and while I was the only secular humanist jew in a sea of jews from orthodox to reform, I had gotten to know and respect each and every one of them. Our final time together was when we arrived back in Philly from our trip to Israel. As we rode the bus to the school where our parents would get us, I looked around at the busful of kids, many of whom I strongly disagreed on with many issues, and couldn’t help but feel my heart drop.
    There was the hippy kid who hated all modern medicine and the ortho kid who couldn’t touch females until he was married. There was the kosher, blonde valley girl and the conservative (sect not politics) ladies man. They were not people I ever would have met in my own community (except the hippy) but I felt they were family. That final goodbye with empty promises of visits was the worst I have ever felt.
    The best hello was my first day in my high school’s literary magazine. As a senior, I am now the president of the literary magazine of my high school, but it wasn’t the club that made it great. It has always been a club of a handful of people, and the people I met on my first day there have become two of my best friends. Though they are in college, I visit whenever I can and constantly chat w them online. That first hello was the best because it led to some of the most meaningful relationships I have.

  2. Aw, I got a little misty just reading this post and seeing the pics. I bet the comments are going to be mega tear-jerkers.

    Saying goodbye to my friends in the States was horrible, particularly all my friends at the airport in Boston. They had graciously accompanied me and my suitcases the whole way from my apartment to Logan. I was very lucky to have such an awesome group of people to hang out with every week, and even though I’ve been away three months I still miss them terribly.

    That said, the goodbyes I had to say to Sid before we were married were horrible, too.

    The best hellos: definitely whenever I get to see the Skepchicks!

    But I think my favorite hello has been seeing Sid at the bar in Vegas at TAM 7. He waited up all night to see me, and I ran into the bar past throngs of friends and skeptics trying to find him, before giving him a huge hug. It was such a happy hello because we knew we’d be getting married in a few days, and soon we wouldn’t have to say those tough goodbyes anymore.

  3. @Rebecca: I found the pic of the two of us hidden in a crowd shot in some of @krelnik’s photos. It was literally the moment we were saying goodbye at D*C, exhausted, slightly hungover and slightly tipsy from finishing up that vodka :) It makes me smile everytime I see it :)

  4. @Rebecca:

    Like when you said hello to me… or rather I said hello to you, and you responded with a polite hug and “Who are you?”

    Another one of my favorite hellos was when I met Scott Hurst at TAM. I introduced myself. Then talked to him a few more times in a few more places. Then two days later, he comes up to me and says, “Elyse! I’m Scott Hurst!” Then proceeds to tell me how he’s been looking for me all over Vegas so we could finally meet.

    The hardest goodbye was when my sister died. Not the moment she died… that was hard… but leaving the hospital, and leaving her behind. It felt so cold… like we were just walking away and they got to keep her. But even harder than leaving the hospital was leaving the cemetery… knowing that I was getting into a limo and going home and my little sister was going to be put into a hole. Brian had to drag me away from the chapel.

    The best hellos are definitely Skepchick hellos. I love the fact that it never feels like the first hello… which I think makes the goodbyes sting a little more.

    Most annoying goodbyes are when I leave my kid… because he’s crying hysterically but I know it’s all an act and that he’s going to be laughing and giggling and running around within 30 seconds of me leaving. He’s such a lying jerk.

  5. The worst goodbye I ever had to say was the one to my old religious beliefs. I LIKED the idea that someone powerful– nay, Almighty!– took an interest in, and liked me, despite all my faults. I liked having the universe explicable to me, neatly tucked into a little box.

    But, as Carl Sagan once pointed out, it is much better to face reality as it is, rather than as we might wish it to be. It was time to grow up, and so I said goodbye to it all. It was frightfully difficult, and took me about three to five years.

    But as horrible as it was? I find that I don’t really miss it so much.

  6. @Masala Skeptic: That vodka was horrible! Just what we needed.

    @Elyse: “Like when you said hello to me… or rather I said hello to you, and you responded with a polite hug and “Who are you?””

    Holy shit, I had forgotten about that! Ha ha ha . . . give me a break, I had never met you before, I can’t recognize the faces of people I HAVE met, and I had just hopped off a 5-hour bus from Boston! I think I made up for it with my follow up “squeeeeee!”

  7. I had some fun hellos in 2009. I got to meet quite a few of the skepfolk at D*C, starting with Heidi, which went something like this:

    Me: “Erm…”
    Heidi: “I know who you are!” (huge hug) “Have you met everyone else? No? Let me introduce you!”
    Me: “Erm…”

    I swear, if it weren’t for extroverts, I’d spend all of my time standing around saying “erm” (instead of just half my time).

  8. As for goodbyes, I make friends easily, but move a lot, so I have sad goodbyes quite often.

    For hellos, my all time favorite hello was, hands down, my introduction to my wife.

    Also, I had some great hellos with many Skepchicks at TAM this year (and the villa). And more fun hellos with Elyse (again), Brian, and a bunch of Chicago Skeptics at drinking skepchickally.

  9. Best hello was arriving back in my hometown after a few years absence and having my neices and nephew waiting at the gate and fighting over who got to hug me first.

    Worst goodbye… there have been a few. But magicdude20 is right. Its the goodbyes we don’t get to make that stick with you.

  10. Ten years ago this month my grandmother was in the hospital after my grandfather died on New Year’s Eve. I was on the phone with her and when I went to hang up she said goodbye to me. I told her goodbye and I would talk to her tomorrow.

    It wasn’t until the next day that I found out she was saying her last goodbye to me — and since then I’ve realized that she knew it. And I never got to.

  11. @Steve:
    That made my day! Thanks so much.

    My saddest most emo goodbyes were at the end of nerd camp.

    Every summer, from 5th to 9th grade, I would spend two weeks on a college campus at a program for gifted children. Nerd camp.

    It was amazing because we were all so similar. It was my first experience of being around people who “got me” and who I “got”.

    When the two weeks were over, we would act like it was the end of the world. Which it was, until next year. After my final year, when I knew I could not come back again, I wrote an impassioned letter to the Director of the Program asking for him to create Junior Counselor positions just to allow me to keep coming. Of course, he did not.

    The next thing I had that was similar was Dragon Con and then Skepticamp.

  12. When my daughter was 14 she decided she wanted to fly across the world by herself and go to school and live in Jordan. The captain of the airplane came out to assure us that he would take good care of her. The captain was about 5 foot tall. I wanted to ask if he needed to sit on a booster seat to fly. Instead I just waved “bye bye” because as close as I am to my daughter, making her dreams come true is more important than having my “baby” near me. Ever since then she’s been flying off around the world and I’ve been waving “bye bye”. I miss her horribly. but she wouldn’t be the wonderful person I love so much if she wasn’t so adventurous and curious about the world.

  13. My most painful, but probably just because it’s most recent, was saying goodbye to the first woman I can honestly say I was “in love” with in 10 years. She got a job 15 hours away, and both of us knew well enough than to try something long distance.

    It was hard. Very, very hard. I hate goodbyes.

  14. @Rebecca: I was thinking of the airport goodbye myself! I miss you so much, and I can’t wait to get a beer with you again! Hope it will be sometime sort of soon!

    My hardest goodbye would probably be my last day with the 2 boys I worked with throughout the last school year and summer. Especially with one of them saying “Don’t go Miss Gaston!” :( :(

  15. It was hard to say goodbye to my mother – we’d never been close, and I was only just realizing how much I was going miss her as I was realizing how quickly she was dying. I didn’t really get to say goodbye – the last thing I remember was trying to put socks on her feet in the hospital. Her feet were like ice, and she was in a drugged stupor and refused to keep the socks and blankets on her feet. It reminded me of the times I was home sick from school and she would INSIST I had something on my feet at all times. She was crazy, but there are so many times I wish she was here.

    The best hello? In the seventh grade, on the first day of school, I chose a seat toward the front in 5th period English. The girl behind me taps me on the shoulder and says, “Hey – I know you. You owe me a dollar.” I was befuddled – she insisted she had seen me at PX (military base store) that summer and that I asked her for a dollar at the checkout. She was so convincing I nearly believed her even though I never went on base. We have been best friends ever since.

  16. @davew: My husband’s mother has frontal lobe dimensia. I met her right at the beginning of when it was getting bad, so I can’t imagine her any other way than how she is. I can’t imagine how difficult this is for his family – it’s like every time we visit a little more of her is gone… I am so sorry you have experienced this long goodbye.

  17. The worst goodbye was saying bye to Ryan after he’d driven me down to school. I remember coming back from the airport in a complete stupor.

    The best hellos have been seeing my mom and dad, after their separate health crises that nearly killed them. I’ll never forget hearing my mother’s laugh just before I turned the corner into her room and knowing that if she was laughing that hard, she had to be okay.

  18. My worst goodbye was sitting with little brother while he bled to death. Complications of cancer. He was just short of 21.

    I don’t know if I could pick out a best hello. I have so many. My mother lives in Yorkshire, so every time I see her is great. I’m also coming up on my 25th high school reunion, so I’ve been slowly making contact with friends I haven’t seen in a long time. Haven’t found the ones I had real crushes yet, but they’re out there somewhere.

  19. After spending most of my working life at airports, I have concluded that many people pack their brains in their checked baggage.

    Goodbyes? I hate them and try to make them as short (and less traumatic) as possible. That’ws just me.

    Hellos? Have to think more on that.

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