She’s Gone And I Can’t Bring Her Back

During one of my interviews for Here and There the other day, after I’d stop filming, a new conversation began. We were talking about parents, leaving home, guilt, change, and the resolution from both parties that there’s no time to waste.

“I don’t bother sweating over the small stuff with my parents anymore” my new friend told me.

I knew exactly what she was saying, if time is limited to a two week visit an argument over how to hang the laundry seems ludicrous. The truth is that on a short visit home, hanging the laundry with your sister/mother/father/friend is a treat. “Wow, look at us, hanging laundry together, just look at us! Together! Doing stuff! Together!”

“I bet your parents miss you – how did they cope when you told them you were leaving the States?”

“They were pretty cool. My Dad jokes that he sees me more now that I’ve moved countries than he did when I was just in a different State  – we make sure we get home to see them now.”

“And your friends?”

“They were good…” There was a hesitation, a sadness. I raised an eyebrow looking for further explanation, my new friend obliged. “I guess, when I went home, I felt my friends were looking for something/someone I’m not sure I could give them. The old me. I’m not that person anymore. That person is gone and I can’t get her back because, well, travelling changed me. Moving countries has meant that some of the stuff I loved about the States, well, I just don’t feel the same way about it. Some of the things that I’d missed so much, when I got there I realised I didn’t actually like it anymore – it might have felt comfortable because it was familiar, but I’d replaced it with new favourites, new things to do.” I thought about something an American girlfriend had said the weekend before “you know I love those red cups from Starbucks at Christmas, but I’m not sure I can drink their coffee anymore – but man, those red cups mean something to me!”

I packed up my microphone, shook her hand and said thank you. Her words followed me out on to the street as I walked through a familiar part of town. I made my way to the car park and up to the 8th floor, the air felt crisp, it was nothing like the air in Doha. I saw people looking at my microphone stand, perhaps wondering what it was I did for a job. I thought about working in Adelaide, I’d been in this building before, on a client visit. By the time I’d made it to the car there was one solitary tear sliding down my cheek, I looked out across the city, my home – but somehow not.

That person is gone, I can’t get her back.

It was at once, both the saddest and most exhilarating thought.

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