We just got back from a short trip up to Brisbane to visit my relatives. Mission: obligatory visit “home” before the big London relocation on Tuesday.
It’s fascinating going back there. Fascinating, and a bit hard. I’m not a fan of Brisbane. Never was. Moved away, and had my reasons. But returning to catch snippets of the people and places left behind every year or two is a sure recipe for noticing the brutal passage of time and it’s various ravages and rewards. Ghosts around every corner as we drive through it. A stolen 17yo kiss in that park. A decrepit share-house now long-since renovated and sanitised. Things not where they’re meant to be. Shiny things broken, and empty things full of apartment blocks or Pieface franchises.
It’s worse with the people. Realising the busty vixen type was actually that blushing shy little pre-pubescent primary school kid you remember. My brother’s kids old enough to put up some serious banter and dishing it hard. Feeling the empty spaces around the city where my antipodean friends used to be. Seeing the old man more grizzled and slowed by age, clasping him firmly goodbye at the airport wondering if this will be the last time.
My nostalgic demands seem unfair, as the one who left it all behind, moving on always so easy. But I wonder which would be worse: a night lingering on the upset of all the lives moving on without you, or getting to the end of a sedentary, immersed life full of regret for the chances you never took. No, I don’t wonder; I already know that answer, though knowing won’t make the lingering any sweeter.