The Sullivan Clan — That’s me in the arms of my mother, Helen, along with my siblings (above).
Travelers get lots of practice saying good-bye. It’s in the nature of the relationships we form when we’re on the road. We meet people, share time with them, then go our separate ways.
I think of the Israeli woman who took an hour-long detour to help me find my way when I was lost late at night in Wahat al-Salam. And of the Swiss hotel clerk who let me and a friend stay at her apartment when there were no hotel rooms in Zermatt on Christmas Eve. And of the guide in the Western Ghats of India who took me back to his house to meet his wife and show me his most recent paintings. Getting to know these people and then saying good-bye was sad, but the sadness was far outweighed by the gratitude I felt for their generosity and by how much I appreciated that our paths had crossed.
Travel has trained me to bring this attitude to all of my good-byes. Farewells may be tinged with sadness, but at their heart, they are moments to cherish.
As I write this, I’m preparing to gather in my hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma, with my brothers and sisters to commemorate the 20th anniversary of our mother’s death. I will be attending with a traveler’s spirit: appreciating the time I had with my mom and the moments I’ll be having with my siblings. It will be another time to say good-bye, which, for me, means another time to celebrate the experiences I’ve shared with someone.
Cofounder & CEO
This appeared in the October 2014 issue of AFAR Magazine.