The HAPS Goodbye

Smiles, hugs, beer, science
Exhaustion, excitation
HAPSters say goodbye.
-The deadline poet

Good night, good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow
That I shall say good night till it be morrow.
-Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet [Act II, Scene 2]

A message from the HAPS Western Regional Director, John Jackson.
A message from the HAPS Western Regional Director, John Jackson.

It’s in the books.  It’s finito. It’s all done.  The 31st Annual HAPS conference over. If this conference was a carnival, it would be shutting down the rides, closing the booths, and pulling up the tent-stakes. Next stop: Columbus, Ohio in 2018.

We’re bleary and weary on this last morning, and saddened already from having said (and having still to say) so many goodbyes. It’s not easy – now or ever.  But we will meet again – and I’m already looking forward to next year. Having had the pleasure of teaching with the 2018 Conference Coordinators Melissa Quinn and Jennifer Burgoon this past year, I know they have some amazing things in store for us in Columbus. Saying goodbye to them is really more about anticipating the upcoming conference, and all that’s in store there.

As you know, every HAPS meeting is really two meetings in one. This doubles the number of goodbyes. The update seminars at the conference location headquarters re-introduce us to our dear friends among the exhibitors –those vendors and publishers, big and small– whose support and presence make the HAPS Annual Conference possible. The vendors are with us for two days, and then we have to say the first set of goodbyes. Then during and after our educational workshops, more HAPSters come and slip away quietly, until those who stick it out until the very end have this strange mixture of separation anxiety and survivor’s guilt at being on the last bus back to the hotel.

Perrotti and Jackson, Salt Lake City 2017
Perrotti and Jackson, Salt Lake City 2017

Bill Perrotti is among those who gets hit hard by the goodbyes. It’s as though he’s a camp counselor who can’t let his charges go at the end of the week. When it’s time to say goodbye, Bill seems to forget the excitement and energy he has shown at each and every first timer’s breakfast since 2002 (the Paleozoic era of HAPS conferences). He embodies the welcoming spirit of HAPS. He is quick to remind everyone of the enduring friendships and academic collaborations in his life due to his involvement in HAPS. Perhaps he forgets all of that good stuff when it’s time to say goodbye (perhaps it’s his age). But it’s always hard to say goodbye to Bill.

A quick shout-out to Sally Jo Detloff, who reminded me in the elevator that “we’re only an email away.”  She’s right, of course.

So let’s commit ourselves to maintaining contact, to the sharing of ideas and insights, and to acknowledging the sources of our inspirations and frustrations with our fellow HAPSters in the weeks and months ahead. More than anyone can or has adequately described – this close collegiality and sharing is truly what makes the HAPS Conference so very special as a face-to-face experience. Nonetheless – the bonds of friendship and scholarship (otherwise known as “science geekdom”) that work so powerfully in person can be sustained by reaching out through a call or an email to say:

“Hey, I tried that thing in class today and thought of you when a student finally got it. Thanks for the help.”  

By recognizing others, reaching out, and thanking our colleagues, we can avoid the goodbyes that make HAPS Conferences so bittersweet…to the point that we’re not really saying goodbye at all. Instead, we’re keeping the warm “hello” that begins each HAPS meeting moving and working through our academic lives until our next meeting.

Happy trails –until we meet again!

2018- We'll see you in Columbus!
2018- We’ll see you in Columbus!

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