I have not written anything on this blog in ages. A full 21 days, and even before that, I only posted snippets for about two months.
You will forgive me, though, I know, not only because you are my friends and family (and their friends and family), but also because you have been where I have been. I know it, dear reader, I am certain.
You too have thought of things, not pressing things or maybe only vaguely pressing things, and you have found yourself in a certain place. Known simply as "not in the mood."
And that is where I have been. I have not written any stories or tales, on the blog, or anywhere else, for the last few months, because I have been with many, though not all, of my loved ones. I have been crushing my heart in nostalgia and wonder at my hometown, I have been watching my nephew and niece grow literally by the day. I'm not joking. At the beginning of this summer, Nanu could run at me, take a little flying leap and land safely in my arms. On my last day in Atlanta, he jumped, and I tried, but I stumbled, and we failed. He is too tall for his short aunt to pick him up anymore and I will miss that more than he knows. My niece is nearly there herself, and it breaks me, it really breaks me to think that the next time I see her, she might not be able to jump up into my arms. The thing about kids, you know, is that they grow.
I have been falling in love again with Craig. I have been getting to know my new town.
I have generally just not been in the mood.
Craig's homecoming to Atlanta in August was joyful, but far too short. We rushed and rushed trying to see everyone and do everything we'd missed, one more time. We found so many old friends again, and found how heartsick we'd been without them. We usually forgot to take pictures, but on one occasion, we (happily, oh so happily) remembered
It was a hard summer. It was unbearably hot. Seeing everyone a bit older and post-GFC was unnerving. But the hardest part was feeling like I knew this place, when I really didn't anymore. New things had opened up, and everyone knew about them but me. Favourite haunts had closed down, buildings had gone up and others had been torn down. You see, despite the economics, things are good in Atlanta. In fact, leaving this time, only the second time I've truly left my hometown, I left what felt like a thriving city, a boundless city, a city with good food and such good beer (oh, my how I missed good beer in Sydney), a city with wild kudzu and a wild heart. This summer, I saw and did and ate all the things that I had missed for two years in Sydney. I felt wrecked on Atlanta this summer, I pushed and pushed to make it feel right again, but it wouldn't stop feeling just a little bit weird. Leaving this time was strange. A vacant ache, a stone in my shoe, the odd sense of leaving a home I haven't lived in.
Craig and I knew we only had a short time together in England. We visited relatives and road-tripped around Norfolk with Lynn. And when she went back home, Craig and I made our own way, roundabout and curving, up to Manchester. For the last week, he has walked with me around my new town, enjoyed lovely little hang-outs, found the best bus routes, sipped the finest beers and eaten what has been, I'll be honest, some rather mediocre food. He selflessly did it all. I know he wants me back in Sydney, but he did not once, in this whole week, allow himself the luxury of despair or anger or jealousy or even a mild petulance. He cheerfully walked with me in the flinging wind to the Northern Quarter, to Chinatown, to my new University. He found pots and pans with me and adapters, and when Manchester had something Sydney didn't, he just said it would make him happy to know that I would have this, whatever it was, for the next year, while he was away. He made conversation with total strangers at my residence hall's welcome night for me, and he thus introduced me to my own neighbours. Oh, he has been such a help. Oh, he is such a wonder.
I know, in my heart, a part of my reason for coming here is to prove something to myself, in some small way. That I can live by myself and not fall apart. That I can engage in difficult, graduate-level study and not fail. That I can live and deal with truly cold and gross weather, and not end up depressed and crying in my room.
But today, at 3:30pm, I waved goodbye to Craig and sent him on his way, first to London, then to Malaysia, and finally Sydney, and I won't be near him for a very long time. This whole morning, we looked at each other and held each other and admitted that we really didn't know how to do the last few hours right, how to say this kind of goodbye. We kissed, he boarded the train, and I stood on the platform, and we stared at each other, trying not to cry, trying to smile. The train pulled away, and Craig pressed a paper to the window. I ran alongside. "You look beautiful," he'd written. I stopped running and watched the train leave, and wondered what I've been wondering ever since I decided to come here. Maybe I've made a terrible mistake. I see things when he's around, things I don't notice otherwise. I feel beautiful when he's around...
Hopefully, I'm just feeling a bit vulnerable right now.
I am, after all, a little bit depressed and crying in my room.
And suddenly, I have found myself achingly, desperately in the mood to write this blog again. To reach out to you. To write and write. Tomorrow I'll begin to show what we have been up to, and I will do my best to keep my spirits (and the tone of this blog) up, or at least higher than this particular post.
I know I will miss my family and friends even more now, in my third year of expatriation, in my first year of Craig-less-ness in nearly a decade. I will need care packages. Send me an email, and I'll send you my postal address. Some of you have written me emails that have gone unanswered for an unforgivable length of time, and you'll be receiving apologetic responses from me soon. For now, please know that I am fairly settled in my room, it is fairly nice, and I like Manchester a fair bit thus far. Details later.
Already, I am sifting through pictures of our time in England and Atlanta, looking for something to cheer me up. Ah, here's one. Let's end this post on a happy note, hey?
Consider this my train window.
You look beautiful. And a little silly. Get home safely, my dear.