Sunday, January 4th, 2015. Bogota International Airport 8:00am: Meghan left for Houston this morning at 7:32. She left carrying her overly packed bag and a neck pillow that she will surely enjoy since she sleeps like a baby every time she boards a plane. As she walks away I can’t help but shed a couple of tears. On a very sunny day last November she asked me if it would be a good idea to spend New Year’s Eve in Cali and next thing we know her and I are enjoying the world’s salsa capital as if there’s no tomorrow.
My flight doesn’t leave until 2:44 in the afternoon, and since I enjoy very much what my dad used to call “the most entertaining activity in the world” (a.k.a. people watching) I don’t even think about the seven hours I’m about to spend in the airport. I decided to install my little observation area next to the departing domestic flight’s main gate since it has the biggest conglomeration of people. Also because is the only place where I can find a wall outlet, and in today’s society where we are dependent on a horrendous device called cell phone that works with a very unreliable piece of metal called battery, a wall outlet is not a commodity, it’s a luxury.
The goodbye process of a potential passenger is a bit more complicated in countries like Colombia where regardless of destination or trip duration, father, mother, siblings, grandma, grandpa, and in many cases the family pet (today I saw two cats that were obviously not happy to be there) show up to say goodbye in a long process that involves hugs, kisses, tears, panic attacks about items left behind like toiletries or souvenirs, pictures, several signals mimicking Jesus’ cross coming specially from the mother or grandmother (“La bendición papito”), last minute recommendations (“don’t forget to use protection” –“ayy mamá!”), and in general a large display of affection and love. A very diligent security lady tries unsuccessfully to control the crowds shouting: “Solo pasajeros con pase de abordaje! Porfavor despídanse afuera!” (Only passengers with boarding pass! Say goodbye to each other away from this gate!), but resistance to the love and affection of family members seems futile in the very affectionate Colombian society.
After several hours of observations, I started analyzing my own goodbye rituals. I classified my goodbyes into two categories:
- The long-term goodbye: Defined by goodbyes to people whom you know you might not see in a long time or sadly (see side note “a”) never again.
- The short-term goodbye: Defined by the day-to-day goodbye to everything that breathes, (“Bye-bye Necio (one of my cats), please take care of the apartment! Call me if you need something”) and that happily (see side note “b”) you will see again in a short time.
I got to the conclusion that I suck at the first category. I hate saying goodbye to those I care about and love when I know I won’t see them in a long time. In 95% of the "goodbye situations" I cry (out of sadness and out of happiness too (see side note “a”). To avoid facing my emotions (and to avoid trying to explain why is it that I am leaving or moving yet one more time when I can’t even explain that to myself) I have adopted what I like to call “The Houdini disappearing act” in which I inform those I love of my plans the very few days before is time to execute them. I am not proud of this nor embarrassed, this is just the way I am. I have to admit however that sometimes I don't even have the courage to ever say goodbye. I just leave.
So here I am, taking this opportunity to say Goodbye to Philadelphia and to all the other places I ever left without even saying "hasta luego". Thanks to all the wonderful friends I made in the city of brotherly love. I left Philly for now, but to those of you whom made me feel as part of your own family I want you to know that I will always carry you in my heart. As Julio Sanchéz Vanegas used to say: "Hoy desde Colombia. Mañana desde cualquier lugar del mundo". (Today reporting from Colombia. Tomorrow from any part of the world).
"a": Some times “sadly” is replaced with “happily”. As much as I love humanity, some homo sapiens are better off kept inside my seldom thought about storehouse of memory. People belonging to this category include but are not limited to: bad ex-boyfriends (I never understood the logic of remaining “friends” with the fucker that screwed you up), bad friends, bad bosses, and in some extreme cases bad family members.
“b”: Some times “happily” is replaced with “sadly”. People belonging to this category include but are not limited to: bad boyfriends, bad friends, bad bosses, and in some extreme cases bad family members.
Flight Update: Bogota Puente Aereo 3:58pm: El Puente Aereo is also known as Terminal 2 of Bogota’s International Airport, an isolated building reachable only via non friendly bus driver. My flight was oversold and I was one of the latest to check in so I was left outside the plane with three other not-very-happy-passengers. I could have checked-in since yesterday using the internet, not to mention that I could have just showed my face to the counter at any time early this morning, but since I like to live on the edge –fancy term for I love to leave everything until the very last minute- I was the last one to check in hence the first one to be left out. You must be fucking kidding me! After 10 hours of "people watching" the only thing I want to watch now is my bed. And my cats, I always want to watch my cats.
Love you all,