I have been in radio since 1990. I’m what they call in this business a Radio Rat because I’ve lived all over the place, taking whatever jobs were available. That also means that I’ve had to say goodbye to various cities and multiple friends.
I moved away from Augusta, Georgia in 1995 to start a new job in New Mexico. I was also trying to escape a dead-end relationship. I had broken up with this guy; he had broken up with me, but neither one of us seemed capable of actually moving on. I figured the only way to solve the problem was to move as far away as humanly possible.
The day I left though, this particular ex showed up just as I was about to drive away. He said, “You can’t leave without someone waving goodbye in your rearview mirror.” So he stood in the street and waved goodbye until I turned a corner and was out of view, and in tears of course. It meant the world to me and I thought about turning around and starting the stupid relationship all over again. Instead, I decided that whenever I had the chance, I would do the same for the people I loved.
The chance didn’t arrive until I was married and with children. Some close friends were moving to Washington, DC and we were all heartbroken over it, no one more so than my daughter Emma. She was best friends with Marshall, our friends’ only son and had been dreading his departure for weeks. The day came and I told his mother that we would come over and be the people waving goodbye in their rearview mirror. I had the tender moment all planned out, much like my sweet farewell in Georgia. It went nothing like that.
They were all packed & ready to go when Marshall looked at my Emma and said, “I’m coming back Emma. I promise…(sniff)…I’ll come back.”
That was it. Emma started to cry. Marshall started to cry. Marshall’s Mom & Dad started to cry, which got me going. Even my 2-year-old who was in a stroller & completely oblivious to the situation started crying. It caused a chain-reaction crying event that might be the most pathetic thing ever witnessed in a North Texas alley, and that’s saying a LOT.
My friends shoveled their weeping son into the car just as my daughter decided she was so overcome with grief, she could no longer stand (she is a bit dramatic, which I’m sure comes as a shock).
The sight my friends found in their rearview mirror was of me holding a delirious prone child while the one in the stroller kicked & screamed with a twisted, prune-red face.
Yes, Happy Trails my friends! Until we meet again!
I’ve always considered the whole event a dismal fail until we visited these same friends last week in D.C. Marshall’s Mom recounted the day to me, but she remembered something much rosier. She recalled all the tears, but they were sweet and joyful and she didn’t even remember that my 5-year-old lost her ability to stand. She said it was so important to her that she told herself that she would do it for her friends one day.
Yes, good luck with that and here’s a bit of advice. If you do plan to wave goodbye in someone’s rearview mirror, get a sitter in advance and by all means, leave the over-dramatic offspring at home.