You Again

Oh hello there. I didn’t see you come in. Who let you in? I thought I’d closed the back door. You really have to stop sneaking up on me like this, it isn’t good for my health.

You look well. Well, you look exactly the same as you always do. How is it you never change? How is it I have changed so much, but you – you don’t look a day older than the first time we met. When was that? Perhaps when I was six years old and made my friend’s mother call my Mum to come and pick me up because I didn’t want to sleep over. Or was it when I was sixteen and on a school trip to the states for two weeks. Remember the first night, I called home to let them know I had arrived safely, and suddenly started crying? I know, I know, it was ridiculous. I was only away two weeks – but something about the sounds on the other end of the phone, and my Mum’s voice all of that familiar clatter, and there I was in a hotel on the other side of the world. The world suddenly felt so big, and I so small. And if I was small and the world was big, well then, I needed to be back in amongst that familiar clatter. Anyway, you left eventually, and I put that familiar clatter somewhere safe in the back of my mind and made new friends and had extraordinary experiences that will stay with me for life. Because that’s the trade off, isn’t it. You know that, I know that. Still – it doesn’t make you any less likely to drop by.

Actually, I suppose, now that I think about it, you have changed a little. The world no longer feels big, and I no longer feel so small. There is someone smaller than me, now, someone infinitely more important. She’s changed everything, including you. Because, now that you are here, I feel I should tell you this – now when I feel you, I feel you on behalf of her. I think about her upcoming first birthday, and how none of my family will be here to celebrate it. Such a thought then metastasizes, and I fast forward through the years and think of all the things my family and my child won’t be together for – a slippery slope that deposits me into the mud of self pity. I know that mud, Lord knows I have squelched about in it before. It’s just that now, the thoughts that take me there are different. In a way, I suppose, it is reassuring. Time changes you too – you aren’t immune. If time can change you, can it also reduce you, diminish you, make you go away? Don’t laugh, that was a serious question.

The thing is, and I don’t mean to be impolite, but you tend to ruin things. Your very presence makes my days heavy. Suddenly every song I hear seems to have the word ‘home’ in it, and the fact an old friend is getting married today and I am not there, makes me think about every wedding I have missed and will miss, and every baby whose birth I will miss, and all of these milestones that will occur while I am here, and they are there. You make me unbearable to be around, because all I want to do is mope, mope and entertain fantastical, unachievable notions of figuring out a way of life that would ensure you didn’t exist. The other irritating thing about you – and I think you secretly enjoy this fact about yourself – there is no solution. Particularly not anymore. It’s too late for that. ‘Going home’ isn’t an option, because home is here and home is there, and it’s all very messy.

Anyway, I don’t quite know why you’re here. The sun is shining, Spring in all of her exquisite colour is here. There is so much to look forward to. I have my health and family and friends. My parents were here, just the other week, and we had a wonderful time. By all accounts, you shouldn’t be here. Ah, but, and you know what I am going to say; you flourish in all environs. The only thing you need is me, and I am always here.

 

14 thoughts on “You Again

  1. Interesting thoughts, Liv… this can apply on the other side as well, the ones left at home. I know how I felt when my family moved overseas with our two young grandchildren. I will never forget my then 4 year old granddaughter walking backwards down to the plane as she didn’t want to leave us.. We missed so many family events, times that can never be replaced…yet, we knew they would be back… How hard would that have been for our ancestors knowing that they would never be likely to see their loved ones again?

    Home is where the heart is…in as many places as the heart is… may your home always be wonderful.

  2. It’s a bummer, isn’t it? I lived in Sweden for two years in the 90s, and I thought oh well, you’ll go there, you have a good time, you come back and that’s it. Turns out it wasn’t, I have missed it ever since, but moving back there would just reverse the problem. And I don’t even have family there or would have to pay a lot of money to travel around the globe to get there. It’s the same with every new language you master – you realise they are all insufficient and it drives you crazy that you just can’t mix everything together to get that one perfect language. That’s what nobody tells you when they say go, travel, broaden your horizons!

  3. Thank you so much Liv. You really struck a cord. I am a German, who left her ‘homeland’ at 17, here in the U.S.now for over 30 yrs.; this IS home now, and that is home too. My inner imagine of myself has me straddling the Atlantic Ocean, one leg on each side, treasuring both, often missing something about one or the other. That will never go away I think- for us and for our loved ones. My mum hates the time difference, that’s where she feels it the most, like when we are in different years on New a Year’s eve.
    Hang in there. It’s just a little melancholy because your love is spread so wide!

  4. Love this…..the same visitor sneaks up on me too, even when I’m trying to appreciate the moment. I miss….what I’m missing back “home”. And when I do that, I miss what I’m experiencing here too.

  5. Oh yes, it’s a tough one. My child, all grown up, is living in NZ and that is too far away some days, plus the time difference. Never mind skype and all that talk about the world being our homeland and humanity our family.

    Still, now we have a lot more contact than when she was living on the same continent, I mean really a lot more, which is great. And there are days when this is all we need.

    She has no plans to become a mother yet but it’s the elephant in the room at times.

  6. I can so relate to this. thank you for reminding me, it is not a superior emotion of mine. it seems like once you have widened our heart to a different country, a second home. that will be the moment the longing grows too. I still wouldn’t like to have missed out.

  7. Fighting back the tears reading this..could be my life on many days here. Especially when my teenage daughter has a break up with her bf or is having a bad day and Im not there to hug her, or my mum going through cancer treatment..my parents selling the family home of nearly 40 years..so many occasions when I miss ‘home’ and wish it were not on the other side of the planet. Suddenly walking away from my job and commitments here and jumping on a plane is not the solution. I don’t know the solution..but I am searching for a way and won’t give up yet.

  8. This post made me cry!! But i think you summed it up perfectly: you have your health, you have your family, your friends, even if they are faraway. And you have die ludde – the cutest – and I am sure you have realised that home is where you guys are together, learning and growing and interacting in that timeless, beautiful relationship that is parenthood.

  9. Oh Liv… I know this so well. Thank you for putting it so beautifully into words. Home is home, but here is home too and I hate slipping into that ‘oh god what am I missing’ place. Wonderful writing.

  10. Thanks for this post Liv, you have captured beautifully how ‘it’ just creeps up on you sometimes. I’m a Sydney girl living in Hamburg and with the absolutely shocking weather this spring/early summer my homesickness really kicked in Lawley. I know it will wane again soon but still it will pop up again at another in opportune time. I really love reading all of your posts and find myself nodding with acknowledgement and with a big smile on my face at all of your observations!

  11. it applies to all semi expats too doesnt it . i am the local but i feel quite at home with all my husband cousins and other relatives. SA is so far aeay. at leadt it is easier to skype theoretically as erre just one time zone off….

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