My life, it feels, has been one long series of comings and goings. Myself, and my people.
As a child, I remember the hellos. So, I remember my mother crying in Mehrabad airport as she embraced her mother and her sister after five years of absence in Britain -and I remember her telling the airport officials I was a boy so they wouldn’t bother us for my uncovered hair. To be exact, I remember her recounting this to her relatives, with everyone hooting with laughter. I remember parties for relatives who had returned from overseas, I remember the exotic gifts and cadeaux they brought. (Toblerone chocolate! Books! Bananas!)
At some point, when I was a teenager, my mind started highlighting the goodbyes. So, I remember sobbing on a couch in Heathrow airport when I was fifteen, because I had said goodbye to my school friends in Tehran only the day before, and now they were thousands of miles away. And then, oh horror! Most horrible! I remember saying goodbye to my parents and siblings a year later in Leeds airport, when they flew back to Iran while I stayed on to continue studying at an English high school as a pensionnaire in the home of my former teacher. After that, more goodbyes. My father in Mehrabad airport. My father in Leeds bus terminal. My mother in Bradford train station. My uncle in Leeds train station. My friends, at one place or another. Leeds, Edinburgh, Tehran. Train stations, bus terminals, airports.
The story of my life continued as I settled into middle-class bourgoisie life in Tehran. Working with an international organization, a lot of people came, worked on projects for a couple of years, and then left. As people worked together in intense and challenging situations, they became incredibly close. Then, the project would finish. People would leave. E-mails would follow, perhaps a visit. Then silence.
Immigrating to Canada = one huge traumatic goodbye. Then, the effort of making new friends, developing new networks. Getting to know people again, only to say goodbye. Again.
Because as summer arrives, the students who spent the academic year closely together, battling with profs and assignments, begin to scatter. Some return home. Others go to do research in faraway lands. Some have graduated and are finding jobs in other places. Others just move to Toronto for the sake of it, as the next logical step in forwarding their lives.
I’ve been to so many end-of-term/farewell parties and visits in the last couple of weeks. So many hugs and kisses and promises. So many last of cups of coffees with friends frazzled by packing. You would think I have become used to saying goodbye. But in fact, I simply feel that I am living out one huge goodbye to my family, with smaller goodbyes here and there. I do not get used to it.