We all occasionally are in groups where we are with the same people for several days and then each departs to go to individual homes, usually far apart. During our time together we have many conversations to get acquainted, and usually feel quite close to the others in the group.
This happens to children at camp, college students in a dormitory, adults in workshops, and people of any age as part of a tour group or cruise. When it is time to say goodbye, there are many exchanges of addresses, phone numbers and email addresses. Each of us firmly believes we will stay connected with some of our new friends. In reality not many of us actually do carry through.
Since I am leading a class in about 14 week-long Elderhostels each year, I make many of these new-found friendships which I value, but haven't continued because of the sheer numbers involved.
One of the other class leaders reads an excerpt from Cornelia Otis Skinner entitled something like "Where to Look."
This humorous piece tells about people who had been on an ocean liner where they got very well acquainted. As they were leaving they vowed to continue the friendship and had fond farewells. But after the farewells had been said, they kept running into each other in the process of getting their luggage and leaving the ship. Skinner asks, "What do you say to people after you have said good bye several times already?" The classes always laugh heartily at the sketch and understand completely.
At a recent Elderhostel, my co-leader and I stayed over the weekend between two sessions. We had said all the usual goodbyes and were settling down for a quiet meal with just the two of us. One of the couples that had attended the session entered the dining room. We greeted them warmly and found out that they were staying overnight to leave the next morning. After a few more minutes of conversation, we said good-bye again and went to our rooms.
In the morning Sylvia and I met for breakfast as planned. We chose a small table facing the window and didn't see our friends from the night before until they had seated themselves at another table. We decided we really had nothing more to say to them so we continued to talk together and watch the scene from the window. We finished our meal and really wanted to get on with the day's activities so we decided to greet the parting couple briefly and then leave the room.
With a "So good to see you again. Have a pleasant trip, Hope we meet again." type of conversation we left the room to tend to some preparation for the next week's class.
As we passed the classroom door with our boxes of books and papers we noticed our friends coming out of their bedroom down the hall. We instinctively turned back to busy ourselves with our bundles to avoid another meeting.
We were sure that these very nice people were probably just as eager as we to not have any more awkward farewells, so we remained in the room a few minutes just to be sure.
We knew there was enough time for them to have checked out when we went out in the hall, but immediately turned back, convulsed with laughter. We just missed running into them a third time. Like two silly schoolgirls we couldn't stop laughing at the illustration our morning had given to the clever piece by Cornelia Otis Skinner. It is hard to say goodbye -- over and over again. See you soon!