There’s a few days to go on my work assignment here, and by Saturday a lot of us who have been spending the last month or so together are going to have to part ways for our respective countries or to go back to work in Vietnam. Before our assignment started on April 24, we had only spoken to each other via weekly hour-long conference calls for 3 months prior. So when we did meet in person, we had some idea of what the other people were like. Meeting in person, however, and living and working in what for some of us is a completely different culture, continent, and/or country, is a far more intense experience in relationship-building. With few exceptions, I’m going to have a tough time saying goodbye to the people I’ve worked with and gotten to know here. Fortunately it’s not all bad news, though; I’m going to travel with two of my colleagues here down the coast of Vietnam to Hue, then Hoi An, then Danang, and then to Ho Chi Minh City. That will bring us to Saturday the 30th of May, at which point they’ll head back to Hanoi and to their respective countries, and I will go on to Siem Reap in Cambodia, then Bangkok, and on June 6 I’ll head to NYC from Bangkok.
When I was staying in Buenos Aires in May of 2006 I, there was an Irish woman, a doctor, who was part of my clique at the Spanish language school we both attended. She told me that she didn’t say goodbye to people if she could in any way avoid it; she would just leave. She didn’t explain exactly why, other than that she just didn’t like saying goodbye. It’s times like these when I wonder if I want to be around for the goodbyes, and maybe it’s just better to just stop showing up instead. Except that wouldn’t be terribly respectful and I have nothing but respect for these people. It’s tempting to fantasize that if I didn’t say goodbye, maybe there was no reason to … somehow I knew I’d see them again.