How Do You Say Goodbye to a Stranger?

You think this is simple.
It's one word - "goodbye." Or if
we're roleplaying maybe "have a nice day" or even
"bless you." What courtesy
might you owe to a stranger?
All the strangers we're surrounded by
through the days here. Is it
"I wish I knew you better," and
"Let's stay in touch," and
"I wish we could've been closer," is that it? Or just
"best of luck in your future endeavors."

Does there need to be a goodbye at all?
Have we reached the point of invisibility that we feel a need to quietly slip out the back?
Or did we somehow want to give each other that hurt?
It is so unloving, to leave without saying goodbye.
And if that's exactly what you wanted,
I can't take that right away from you.
Nor can you take it from me.
To the extent that we've made up our minds,
to leave.


Goodbye Stranger

And what of the years? What strangers are they? How to say goodbye to those times, which have really meant more than anything?

How am I supposed to show you that I care, when I never have? Or never shown you that I care, at least. Or maybe I genuinely never cared? No, maybe never cared enough to show it? Or never strong enough to show care through the fear? The fear that the ice would break only for us to float apart. So then how do I care? I'm genuinely asking.

Are you getting as dizzy as I am here?

But listen, is anyone a stranger? Why are either of us here? What calls us to be in the same vicinity that we may know to call each other anything, even strangers? Traveling together, on the same journey to different destinations? Having a meal, sharing space and time in the name of need for nourishment? At the same workplace, earning a living, staying occupied to keep someone else's grand design in operation so that we may afford our daily bread?

Why are we here? And are we not together? And will anyone ever really know you, or vice-versa? So who then is a brother? Who then is a sister? Who is a stranger? It's everyone or no one. And I don't want to be a stranger. So let's be gracious enough to say goodbye. For once, for good.


January, 2023

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