That Last Turn Of The Key

I’m about to start looking for the house keys. The last time I used them was in January to lock up the beach house. I then slid them back into the side pocket of my handbag knowing I wouldn’t need them again until June. They sit beside a ziplock bag with a SIM card for my phone, the Australian credit cards, the Blockbuster video card, and the cards for the local library. That last turn of the key is always a tricky one, the end of each holiday signifying children growing older, snippets of time are gone never to return. Remember the summer when you were seven? It only happens once.

I will return tomorrow night with children who will run to measure their heights on the wall to see how much they’ve grown. It will be a competition, someone will be victorious, someone will be sure the details are wrong. I will watch them, thinking of their invisible growth – someone can do cursive now, someone else has moved to a whole new level of reading, while someone else shopped for a dress and went to their first dance.

I feel very flat about our trip to the airport tonight. I know that G is not looking forward to the next month without us and I’m leaving friends behind who I’d love to squeeze in a few more hours with. I’ve missed out on a seeing someone who’s become a daily part of mine and the children’s lives, we’ve just simply run out of time. To leave is to face the fact that so much will be different upon our return. It’s in some ways the end of an era. That was when…

I can’t wait for Australian winter sunshine, a coffee with the neighbours, a trip to the bakery, and a drive to my hometown – but leaving means, leaving. I have never felt this way about a summer holiday before. Stepping from one life to the other this year feels so much harder.

A few years ago my friend Krissy and her husband came to stay. Krissy and I met when we were about 14, we’ve lived together, had our babies together, I plan to be her friend until the end. While she was here I organised a dinner at the house to introduce her to our Doha friends; it was as always, raucous, loud, and silly. Krissy watched on and days later made a comment about the friends that we’d made here and how close we all appeared to be. I remember saying at the time that it almost scared me, that G and I didn’t have plans to move on but we knew they all wouldn’t be staying – I couldn’t imagine saying goodbye or worse, trying to find friends like these again.

Krissy sent me a note this morning. What time was I arriving? Could she pick me up from the airport? She’d cleared Saturday night thinking we’d be in town. I smiled, this is pure Krissy – you could not ask for a better friend. My kids are busting to see hers and I can’t wait for the normality and comfort of just being with her. The ease of sitting at the kitchen table with a coffee. And I really couldn’t need the stability of her friendship anymore right now – because, honestly, these expat goodbyes are killing me.

And so, with that, and with the floods of tears that appear to have arrived (again). I shall go and look for a suitcase. Dubai tonight, Adelaide tomorrow.

See you all on the other side.

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