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The Textures of Goodbye.

Updated: May 16, 2023

Today I wrote the following... poem, I guess? And I wanted to share it.


The Textures of Goodbye.

“See you soon” is the smoothest duvet cover, light blue and downy, covering the worn and well-loved in a blanket of new. It alleviates pressure, sincerely or with false comfort – for use when I know I’ll see you (maybe soon), and also when I know I won’t (maybe ever).

“Godspeed” may be hot sand on bare feet, or the pearly interior of a shell. This depends on who is saying it, and why, and with how much conviction. Godspeed is a confession. It’s the whisper of farewell when sending someone off to sea. The textures are decided by the sailor, not the sender.

“Bye-bye,” the sweetest nugget of milk chocolate, is like a kiss at the bottom of an Easter basket. It’s your great-aunt, who seems to bathe in perfume, but gives the best hugs. It lets you drive away slowly, looking in your rearview mirror, watching her wave from the stoop.

“Ciao” you know is bound to get spicy. Say it once – a creamy risotto. Say it twice – with a kick. It lingers on the tongue long after you’re home, alongside black and white images of immigrants with long skirts and long faces, short pants and short fuses.

“Take care,” like a command to protect, creates a safety net woven out of thick, scruffy yarn, capable of cradling your entire weight. It packs your lunch, puts on your coat, steps where you step, never lets you out of its sight. A mother walking her child to the bus.

“So long” sounds like a damp November day, with clouds that hide a sun that came up late and goes to bed early. So long since I saw a blue sky. But if it’s at a diner, said by the regulars to their pleasant, patient waitress – then it’s the granules of sugar left on the table, beside the cold coffee and the 25% tip.

“Later” is also “catch you later” is also silly and light, like eating whipped cream from the can. It’s a bit of a joke, and a bit of a wish. It’s not guaranteed, because it doesn’t want to be, but neither is it apathetic. It’s just skipping down the sidewalk, unflappable.

“Farewell” is rich gingerbread, thick with molasses, probably in a lamp-lit room. Farewell comes with the stipulation that it must be handmade to be presentable, like the ruffles of a bed-skirt, or the lace in a wedding-dowry trunk. It maintains decorum when you leave.

“Stop” can also be goodbye. Or “no.” Those feel like the hard surface of a gnarled oak door – closing swiftly. Or a castle drawbridge – raising slowly, but deliberately. Nothing nonchalant. The texture is purposeful. It takes the shape of whatever piece of glass you last saw shattered.

“Goodbye” conveys simplicity, but has the most complicated consistency. It's your favorite ice cream – the kind you can only get in one town at one store at one time of year. Goodbye is the flavor of that entire experience. Superficial to glance at, but as deep as memory.

“I love you” is everything you’ve said before, and everything you could never say. It’s warm skin in the sun. Your favorite person’s laugh. It’s your favorite person. It’s singing their favorite song, gently, while their body gives out, endlessly. I love you is the best and the worst of us, without apologies or excuses.

Nothing. Nothing is the most broken heart. It’s forgotten. It’s forgetting what you needed. Saying nothing is like swallowing the whole damn ocean. It’s every fish in the sea and every wave and every lost ship that never came home. It tastes like salt water and sweat, and it leaves you dehydrated, aching, invisible. “Nothing” is invisible, but it takes up all the space.

Written by Tate DeCaro, 1/17/2023

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