Archive for the 'Way back when' Category

Oh how bittersweet

source: patmarch

When we arrived in Melbourne, I spent a good month weeping at odd moments. The car seemed to be a particular problem spot. I guess no one in the back seat could see my tears and that provided me with a freedom. Driving the boys to  story time at the new library, to their new swimming lessons, to their new daycare, to the supermarket that never had any parks, the tears would well and inevitably spill over.  We were in the car a lot because of where we lived so I had plenthy of opportunity. Wherever we were, I would think of the Sydney equivalent and sob. Remembering my family, my friends and tears would fall. Somehow, our life in Sydney seemed to make more sense. Our family made more sense. We had an identity. We were us. In Melbourne, I felt we were anchorless. Bar a couple of Cam’s friends and his family, no one knew who we were. And in particular, no one knew who I was.

I can’t remember now when I stopped crying. But I did. I must have. We fell into the swing of things, or I guess I did. Life in Melbourne became our normal with its ups and its downs. But it became that, life. Just normal beautiful heartfelt life.

But the crazy, nutty thing now is that being back in Sydney, falling straight back into the life we had, my family around to love and help us, my friends dropping by, sharing a beer and hanging out with us, I can’t help but miss Melbourne terribly. Like enough to cry in the car again. Is it change that disrupts us, enough to unsettle us or is nostalgia a fundamental human experience?

Nostalgia is defined as a yearning for the past, often in idealized form. It is what I have exactly. Since I’ve been back nothing in Sydney equals that in Melbourne. I feel completely unsettled again, like the family equilibrium has been disrupted and we are now ‘out of place.’ This is nuts given my same response when we arrived in Melbourne. I know my memory is skewed. I mean, Melbourne was a fantastic city to live in for our family – so much better for kids – but I was lonely and I’m back now amongst those I love and yet I feel so dislocated.

Another historical definition for nostalgia has been homesickness. And in the 1800s it was even considered a medical condition, a disease. This interests me because my experience of this, this nostalgia, this longing, feels out of my control; as if no self-talk would make any difference.

I guess I’m trying to work out why. What function does nostalgia play? What evolutionary role does it have?  It is to help us adjust to change? It haunts me, follows me wherever I go. And it fits so neatly into the glass as half full or empty. Is my nostalgia just another inherent way that I vew the  glass half empty? If so, that scares me. I guess now that I’ve articulared it, now that I am aware of it, I can change it. Well, I’d hope so.

What are you nostalgic for? As there been a time in your life when you fell this intensely?

 

All by myself

I’ve spent most of my life believing that I am a highly extroverted person. I’m great socially and until my late twenties, spent most of my time out, with people.  When a significant relationship ended for me at 25, my lifestyle changed dramatically and I put it down to the fact that I was mending a broken heart (albeit at my breaking) and was rebuilding my life. But, in rebuilding my life, I realised I wanted some things to change. While I’ve always had an active social life, I haven’t ever had a lot of good friends. To be honest, I’ve never really needed many people in my life. Sounds strange doesn’t it – I was very social and yet not sociable.

As I got my life back together post-breakup, I moved out for the first time on my own. It was this step that opened up a whole new way of being for me. I LOVED IT. I had a sanctuary from the world. Somewhere I could breathe. Somewhere I could be. On. My. Own. It was as if, I fell into some sort of coma, my identity repairing itself from years spent constantly around other people. Often people I didn’t know well and people I didn’t connect with. Years spent being ‘on’. All the time. In my own place, I could just be.

I found I enjoyed being with myself. I felt reenergised. I felt wholly happy for the first time in years. I felt more complete. And, I met someone amazing, someone like me. Someone very adept socially. Someone who others sought out in social situations, but someone, like me, whose preference it was to be quiet. Alone or with someone close. Very quickly we began a family. We knew so soon that we had found an answer in each other.

It was when I allowed myself to identify as an introvert, to live my life this way, to acknowledge that I sought energy from time on my own, preferred aloneness, that I found true peace within myself. I made decisions in my life based on my need to be quiet, to avoid large social situations or situations that required I meet a lot of new people. This drains me considerably and has so often made me feel inauthentic. I accepted that I had a few close friends and that this was enough. I began searching for a career that would allow me this quiet, which would not demand significant social interaction. I planned a family to provide community and connection in my life. All of this made sense.

And what has happened has been transformative. I have ironically, met more people and made more friends with whom I share real and authentic connection. I find social situations much easier. I no longer dread my social engagements in the same way. This is because I have found a way to be present, to be me.  I don’t have to pretend anymore. I don’t need to always make conversation. I don’t need to always be funny, be interesting, be pretty, be known. I enjoy being social now because I feel more real.  And I don’t feel obliged to do it again tomorrow or next week or even next month. I enjoy it for what it is and then retreat into the space that I feel most alive. I write this having come across this website the other day.

It felt like I’d come home.

 

Is this strange?

I was engaged before meeting C (not when I met C which would be another, far more interesting story). Without boring you with the details of that relationship (whole other story, whole other post(s)), basically we got to a stage in our relationship where I went on a trip to Brazil with my sister and he flew over to surprise me and ask my to marry him. But, might I add, by default. Because I’d gone feeling a little lost. Because he knew this. Because it freaked him out. Because he thought it was what I wanted. Because he thought it was the right thing to do. Because he was convinced he didn’t want to do it. Because he thought it would make people happy, not just me, and him.

Anyway, I had no idea. I get an email saying he’s arriving the next day when we’re in Sao Paulo. And he did. Arrive that is. I picked him up at the airport. He was an excruciatingly lovely surprise to say the least. The taxi ride back into town was fun. Drinks that night were fun. So was dinner. Sex in the hotel room bathroom that we were sharing with my sister that night was fun too. Next morning he had a medium size, rectangle shaped flat box on the table at breakfast. He said there was a story behind it and wanted to tell us about it but he wasn’t sure it was the right time. He ummd. He ahhed. But decided that he’d tell us later. Yes, us. This whole time (except the bathroom in the middle of the night) was shared with my sister. He kept saying he couldn’t wait to tell us the story. He couldn’t wait to share it with us.

Before leaving Sao Paolo that day for a trip into the countryside, he went to an internet cafe to touch base with work. I bought an orange juice and a jumper and came back to the cafe to wait. I walked up behind him as he was typing an email to his secretary. Yes, his secretary.

Francesca’s father has called. I told him you’d flown to Brazil. He’s very worried that something is wrong. I told him not to worry about anything, to call Francesca’s mother That we should all be hearing some very happy news soon.

Yes, secretary. Yes, we. Yes, happy.

Is it strange that everyone knew we were getting married before I did? Is it strange that he was planning on asking me while my sister was there? To me it was bloody weird. Bloody unbelievable but bloody predictable. And that’s why we’re not married. Although, I did say yes.