When I was told that saying aloha could allow for such versatility, for a greeting or a goodbye--like a hug or, like here, a kiss on the cheek--I was astonished. What a novel thing, to level the linguistic playing field, to bookend an encounter with the same tide-like sounds. And then I learned that aloha is "hello, goodbye, love, compassion, welcome, and good wishes. It means belonging to others with a common humanity. It's defined better as a feeling in the heart than by words." Hawaiians are surely heirs to a wordsmithing magic. Who else can charge a single word with so much meaning and goodwill?
Italian comes close with ciao, though the competition is formidable, and Dutch might enter a bid with dag. But Spanish has its trump card, too, even if it only grants a lowlier second--or even third--place. María pulled it when she greeted me on the street, passing at a distance the in the other direction, when neither of us stopped to chat. Calling out over her high and waving hand, she said, "¡Adios!" and i voiced the same word back.
It took some getting used to, being greeted with 'goodbye.' In my lack of aloha-style thinking, it felt like a tiny affront. But it isn't like shouting only "See ya!" to a friend busily headed down the the street. In the context of familiars without the usual time to talk, adios becomes a greeting and goodbye wrapped up in one. it may not carry as much significance as aloha, but in its etymological ancestry, it boasts a beautiful phrase: a Dios vos encomiendo, I entrust you to God.
It's enough to make a person want to say goodbye more often, even when hola's instinct holds its ground. In that, it's my new aloha, defined more closely by attitude and affection than by the syllables themselves.