In five days, we fly the nest we’ve called home for the guts of half a century.
Everything that happens, happens for a reason. I believe this. I know it to be true in the deepest part of my soul.
Sometimes, that reason is that I am dumb, and I make bad choices.
Decades on, the haunting ghosts of those choices resonate on, shaping my life down some high speed, ravine-hurtling rapid I would never have chosen, and which I surely have no power to stop anymore.
I always get what I want. Always.
And the price of it is always high.
It costs everything, every time.
And yet, I keep on wanting. I hope for more. I wish. I dream. I reach. I strive. I aim. I try.
And somewhere, deep inside, a voice whispers, softly, reminding me that all the ancient mystics were right.
Desire is the seed of pain. And suffering. And regret. And growth. And life. And adventure. And invention.
It’s everything. It destroys everything. It grows everything. It finishes one thing and starts another. And sometimes, the finishing means simply ending, stopping, ceasing to feed and nurture. Not done. Not complete. Nowhere near the end. Just stopped. Destroyed.
And something new and fresh and distracting to take its place.
And thank God for that. Or the pain would be worlds more than we simple humans could hope to endure.
In less than a week, we will be ‘back home’, in the UK, retreading the ground our ancient ancestors trod before us (although slightly South and East of those old Celts from whom we hail).
We’ve been planning this gradually for all our lives. Majestic and slow, with the indolence of the young who know assuredly that all the world lies before them, and nothing evil could ever befall.
We’ve been planning this suddenly and instantly with all the haste that sudden waking and fleeting opportunity dumped into our sleepy laps, not a moment to lose, not a second to waste.
All along, it’s been frantic excitement and plans, the bright future drawing us to its incandescence like moths to a flame, inexorably drawn to the light and the heat and the glow, all the world around receding into dimness and shadows and imaginary nothings.
The force of all we are doing and leaving and the sheer massive impossibility of turning back collapsed on me. The innumerable goodbyes (the ones I know most likely mean forever).
The innumerable goodbyes (the ones I know most likely mean forever).
The children who chose just now – this very unobtrusive, unassuming moment to grow up and become all of their potential in one wrenching, devastating, necessary, unexpected, too-soon instant.
The darlings who have been our constant friends for every moment, and now most likely will only wake with us in the hereafter.
The home. The people. The food. The place. The land. The million tiny knowings that make us native – things we will never have again.
Once we say goodbye to this place that runs in our blood, whose dust cakes our skin, whose legacy shapes the pathways of our minds, never again will we be native anywhere. The new place will be alien – foreignness made ever more so by its passing facade of being so like all we know. The language. The culture. The heritage. The faces. Familiar, yet other. Similar. But not ours. Never ours.
And when (if?) we ever come home – should we ever have the privilege to call any place that again – it will not be ours. We will have forfeited our birthright in less than a week, leaving all we have ever loved and hated and hoped and known behind, for all that we have ever imagined and hoped and nothing we have ever seen or conceived of.
In a week, we will be alone save each other.
And what do we know of these, our fellow travelers? These fellows we have sacrificed to the mill of work and earning and eating and being this long, hard, grindingly lonely decade? How tenuous the sticky blood of our connection, grasping to one another with all its mute, impotent powerlessness. Hoping that when we all wake up, washing together onto some distance, strange shore, some shred of desperate familiarity, some infinitesimal shard of knowing grips us, binds us to one another, protects us from the legion at the gates which no longer shelter us.
We feel we must.
We feel we have no choice.
We feel driven by the course of fate and circumstance to take mad leaps and save ourselves.
The truth is not so.
We had a choice.
A tiny one.
We made it so long ago, we didn’t notice it.
Will we be so foolhardy next time?
Most likely, we already are.