08/06/2013 12:31 EDT | Updated 10/06/2013 05:12 EDT

Searching For the "Good" in Goodbye

Three weeks ago, as I sat in the plane to take me back to my new found home of England, I felt, once again, an overwhelming sense of anxiety that I seem to experience at least once a year. I am not afraid of flying, nor does this anxiety stem from wanting that desired window seat, rather it is produced upon realizing that my brief stint at home in my parent's house has come and gone, now it's back to my alternate reality.

I strongly dislike saying goodbye and try to avoid it at all costs. I prefer to use sayings such as, "see you soon" or simple reminders of when the next visit will transpire. These reunions and potential dates have been discussed, "confirmed" and posted as Facebook events. Whether or not they actually happen, there's still some comfort in anticipating an imminent encounter, making that two syllable word a bit easier to utter or almost unnecessary at all.

There is something about airports though, whether it be the smell, the chaos, the luggage, eclectic mix of people, something that fills the word goodbye with extreme emotion, sensitivity and fear. It becomes a word almost unbearable to speak. It always seems to come too fast, you keep putting it off and until you've reached the entrance to security and your loved ones stopped from going any further. It is until the very last second when you are forced to say the dreaded word "goodbye" and even then, I'm still unprepared.


My ideal self would grin and say "until next time!" This pristine person would then walk away with ease thinking only of what's to come exuding a confident, steadfast exterior. In reality, and before I have even finished all my heartfelt hugs and kisses, I feel tears rolling down my cheeks. The worst part is it doesn't end there. It still hurts to see the vanishing landscape as the plane takes off and consequently the memories that come flooding in like a rip tide forcing you to stay put practically drowning in thoughts and recollections.


I have had to say goodbye more times than I am comfortable with. I've had to say goodbye to old friends, new friends, foreign friends, family members, colleagues, students and even lived in flats, rented cars, vacations and time periods. It is in our nature that we as humans get attached to not only other individuals but other non living things.

When I moved to South Korea for two years to teach English, I had no idea I would create such a network of close knit relationships that would essentially make it even harder to leave. Not only did I have to say goodbye to my Korean friends I might never see again, but the city that welcomed me with open arms when I first arrived feeling a bit scared and enormously overwhelmed. Gwangju, a city located four hours south of Seoul, became my new home. It taught me so much about life, love, food and culture. It encouraged me to be open minded, independent and never say no to an adventure. It helped mold the person I am today and how can you possibly say goodbye to someone or something that has had such an impact on your life?

We all know it's inevitable that everything expires. No I'm not talking about the week old milk in the back of your fridge or the leftover meatloaf you defrosted last month but people as well have expiry times and as a foreigner in Korea it became more evident than ever. It almost felt as though my new friends who quickly became my support system and my family out there suddenly had expiry dates flashing above their heads. As the dreaded dates of their departure came nearer, so did a slew of farewell parties, photo ops and talk of our next encounter. The actual word "goodbye" was rarely spoken. The way it should be.


Of course technology these days makes keeping in touch a lot easier, but us Generation Y babies still need the tactile, embrace of a loved one, the palpable sensation of a hug or handshake and another reason why I have yet to make the switch to a kindle.

You'd think saying goodbye would eventually get easier but sadly, it never does. I've accepted the fact that everything must eventually come to an end, which seems to be true except apparently crappy bands like Nickelback.

In the moment, there may not be any "good" in a goodbye, but a goodbye is necessary until we meet again. No Chad Kroeger, you can keep walking.