I was starting to get creeped out.
There I was all alone and minding my own business as I ate my lunch and reading the print version of “Reader’s Digest” when the hairs on my skin started to stand up with the strongest sensations that I was being watched. When I looked up, a pair of intrigued brown eyes were staring at me across the rather roomy cafeteria that overlooked the New York City Chrysler building.
There was something familiar about him. But, I did not know what. I knew that I knew him. I just did not know from what part in my life I had known him, because, you know, life has many parts with every intention to make the whole. Then again, there were people that we met for the first time that we somehow had the feeling that we had known in a past life. Maybe I had known him in that previous life. You ever get that feeling? Someone you saw for the first time, only to feel that you have known that someone forever or some other life or time.
Before I knew what was happening, the guy with the brown eyes walked up to me, and asked, “Mary? Is that you?”
That is when it hit me. This was a guy I had worked indirectly with nearly three years ago. I had not recognized him with a grown beard that had added age and maturity to him. Since seeing him yet again after three years, I have bumped into him at least two more times. When we knew each other then, we barely muttered two words to one another, but now we conversed about the future rather freely and for lengthy durations rather than any kind of chit-chat about the past.
He is not the only unexpected one from my past who has eerily returned.
In these past two weeks of mandatory Manhattan ventures, people from 9 years ago when I first started working at one of the hospital’s Manhattan locations have returned with an intensity that cannot be fully described or digested immediately. The nurses and colleagues are stunned to see me again and wrap me up in tight hugs, exclaiming: “Mary! What are you doing here? Oh, my God! How long has it been?”
There was my favorite red-haired colleague with piercing blue eyes who had introduced me to the night life of NYC who I saw again. He is the only direct colleague that still remains from when I started. He looked exactly the same from when I first said “Hello.” He was one of the few people who I was fearless to say “Hello” to because of his radiating aura and energy.
When the people from my past ask me what I am doing here in Manhattan now and what has happened in my life in almost ten years, I find that it is a verbal struggle to share all that has brought me here today. We can speak rather easily of how we encountered or ended a ‘relationship’ with someone, but how easy is it to share and verbalize everything (memories, moments, experiences) that happened in between? And, yet, it is everything of the good, bad, and in between that are sandwiched in “Hello” and “Goodbye” with people that are the most meaningful to and in life.
My mind ends up rewinding to the memories of 9 years ago when I began, 7 years ago when I relocated to one of the suburban/regional sites of the hospital, and the mere 2 weeks ago that I was last in my comfort and content zone with the colleagues at that suburban/regional site. It was only 2 weeks ago that my suburban site colleagues went all out with red and white balloons, goodie bags of teas galore, and a personalized cake topped with inch thick saccharine frosting and a photo copy of my face on it.
How did all this time go by that leaves me at a loss of words of all that has occurred between my “Hellos” and “Goodbyes” to so many people who have impacted and enhanced my life? How could I possibly describe and explain all the amazing, extraordinary, and remarkable that manifested in my life, personally and professionally? How is it that I am meeting new people and will meet new people at a job that awaits me only for unrest ghosts and people from my past who I was sure I closed the door to are back to open the door and pop in with this new part of my life? I am left with such an immense sense of loss and confusion, and this dull ache that I miss the past and savor and remember the memories that brought me so much to where I am here and now.
I have always been quite scared of “Hellos,” because it was the very beginning where first impressions determined if the seedling of a potential relationship would take roots and blossom. I have never been afraid of “Goodbyes,” because “Goodbye” was my closure, acknowledgement, and honor to the unique relationship with that certain person where memories formed from our experiences together. But, now, I wonder about “Goodbye,” and if there is ever really a final farewell? After all, these people from my past who I said “Goodbye” to are now people I am saying “Hello” to yet again alongside the new people I say “Hello” to.
All this time, I believed I had at least a little control of my “Hello” and “Goodbye” encounters. If I was curious about someone and getting to know them, I initiated to meet. If I was hurt by someone where trust was broken in the worst case scenario, it was my intent to leave if needed. But, in this transitional period I am experiencing that wavers of leaving behind and going forward without any backward glances or regrets, I am contemplating that the people who revisit still have a purpose in my life that has not been completely met. Until the purpose is met, I will keep meeting them again. And, so the “Hello” and “Goodbye” cycle continues on.
The “Hellos” and “Goodbyes” are the beginnings and endings to the many spans, or parts, within the greater and grander journey of life. I have always believed in the fate or kismet that we are meant to meet certain people, but I question if we are meant to see people again whether we like to or not?
Who have you said “Hello” and “Goodbye” to with the set belief, intent, and wish to never see a person again, only for that person to come back? Or, vice versa? And, if you had the power to see that special someone again who you believed the “Hello” would last forever without ever saying “Goodbye,” who would that person be?
Keep smilin’ until we meet again,