I don’t really have a home town anymore. My parents moved to another city I have never lived in, so when I go to visit, I mostly see them and sometimes cousins and usually aunts. There isn’t a lot of nostalgia there for me. It doesn’t really feel like “home” home.
When they lived in the town where I spent my teenage years, there are vivid memories seeped into the houses and streets and neighbourhood. The corner of Fitzroy and Carthage st, where I had my first kiss, walking home from netball with my boyfriend in Year 10. Anzac Park where Felicity Roche and I had a sneaky cigarette hiding under a bush. Matt Parker’s house in Upper Street, where we went to a party, then rocked all the rooves in his street, even though his father was a lawyer and they knew all their neighbours. I can drive a 2 kilometre perimeter around East Tamworth and everything is 1985 again.
When I was 10, we used to play chaseys in the school playground. You could always run back to the big old tree trunk that was “home”. You knew you were safe, you could catch your breath and no one could get you. When you ran around again, you were fair game and up for grabs, but there was always a safe place to come back to. This is what these people are to me. Like an anchor. This is how I feel with them; safe, solid and home.
After a week’s holiday in Sydney, I realised even though I don’t have the home town anymore, there are people in my life, who are my home. Who I can see and immediately feel all is well. I know I am where I belong. We hug and laugh and tell stories and a deep feeling of contentment washes over me. There are some new stories, updates and gaps to fill and no one tells the old stories quite like us. Reminiscing reminds me of some of the difficult as well as brilliant times we have been through together. Saying the names of pubs we used to drink in, the nicknames we used to call each other, the people we lived and worked with, which I had forgotten. The ease of not having to explain anything.
Like the welcoming yellow light on a veranda, I am drawn to them. There is a yearning need to reconnect, in real life, to be seen and to be heard and felt. Not just the silly banter and thumbs up on social media. We remember the times we have shared, some intense, some side splitting and some we don’t have to talk about but can just smile and nod. The kind of language you have with an old friend, where you can just say a word or a phrase and bring it all flooding back. Nothing else needs to be said. We know when it was, where it was and who said it. “You know you want it,” was Campbell, Oxford St, ’93. Turns out I didn’t, but it is still a funny thing to say about everything.
I managed to catch up with my friend and her family last week and even though it involved a little juggling of schedules and days and times, we got there in the end. It was only a few hours, she said it was like speed dating, but we covered a lot. We caught up on seven years of comings and goings, overseas postings, breakups, deaths, buying and selling houses, career changes, siblings, friends and aquaintances. When her son walked through the door, my heart almost burst out of my chest. I had been at his birth 15 years ago, cradling him to my chest when he was less than an hour old, his hair clumped into bloodied dreadlocks. To see him as a tall young man brought tears to my eyes. He came and kissed me hello, even though he didn’t know me, but had heard the story of the long night of his birth many times.
When my two girlfriends met for dinner at the pub, it was the same; we sank back into the foam banquette seats and all sighed at the same time and laughed. There was recognition on a physical and cellular level. Nothing had changed for us, but many things had changed with us. We updated each other, exchanged friends and family news. At one point I looked at our children playing together, the men talking about sport and I thought “Wow! Did we ever think this would happen, when we were single and in our twenties, that we would have kids and husbands and partners and everyone would like each other?” No one but us knows what schmuppety means. But it felt like that. The joy reached deep into the lonely parts of my soul and rolled through the cracks like warm honey.
This is what I want for my children, all of our children. A place of safety and acceptance. Friends who are their touchstones, who are real places of love and truth, who feel like home.
If this rings true for you and has inspired you to physically reconnect or go home, I’m happy for you to share to your page and your people. * Tag you’re it.
Also a great excuse to share this ear-worm from a Brisbane band who I borrowed the title of this blog.