Containing a million tiny insights into a culture, goodbyes are an often-overlooked nugget of cultural nuances, social mores and age-old customs hidden in pompous air kisses, cool high fives and tight bear hugs. The French Au revoir, as full of vowels as it is hope, begs for a re-run of your company. The mouth-rounding Hawaiian Aloha evokes a feeling and emotion rather than a specific meaning. The Spanish make no bones about it, they send you straight to God upon your departure with their Adios, and who cares what Iceland’s Bless literally translates as, it’s good enough in its good intentions as it is. In short, every culture has its unique stamp on the blessing of departure. The culture of the National Inside Ride Tour holds its blessing of departure close to heart – literally.
At NIRT we hug as tight as we can. You see we never know (but always, always hope) that we’ll see these country-wide people again once we leave. We breeze in and out of their lives once a year for a few hours of complete and utter fun, but as colourful as it is we don’t forget that it’s set against a backdrop of heart-wrenching darkness for many of them. The ones we do see the following year we hug pretty darn tight. Once our fundraising dance party is over and we pack up the bikes, the speakers, and the sweaty mats and throw away the gold streamers, paper flowers and pink feathers we hug them even tighter. We look them in the eye and bid them farewell; goodbye has no home on NIRT, it’s too final. We want to wish them well from now until we meet again. We want health and happiness and hope to infuse them not departures, absence and finalities.
And so, to all of you – to the families who have graciously accepted us into their most personal and vulnerable life moments, to the children we’ve taken the hands of and danced with like Elaine Benes, to the sponsors without whom this event would not be impossible to pull off, to the people who have generously donated their hard-earned money and their hard-fought-for spare time, and to those who have been reading along with us from your office and your kitchens, we bid you all a fond farewell. Thank you all for being an integral part of this incongruous journey.
Until the next time we meet, fare-you-well.