Monday, 1 December 2014

Losing the art of sentimentality

Two moments last week changed me. Juts a little change, but enough undent my soul just a little.

The first was seeing a friend from high school. I knew she couldn't really place me, but I knew exactly who she was and we said hi... but that was it. Mum had spotted her as well, and asked me if we had a chat, and I said 'Nah, I could tell she knew she knew me, but didn't know who I was'.

That, right there, is what it is all about. 

I loved my high school friends. I had spent the last four years of primary school not really fitting in, then hating my way through the first three terms of high school. And then I met my beautiful group of friends, and we were really just that group of kids who were a group because they hadn't found anywhere else to be. The sweetest day was leaving my school diary on a desk outside my home group room, only to come back and find all my new friends had written their names, addresses and phone numbers in the back of it. 

Most of my friendships didn't stick after school ended. Everyone says that they will always be friends, but really I only know one bunch of girls who have made it work. I still have people I stay in touch with, and a kindred spirit (that's Lorraine by the way). I went to work, and then moved away, and that was kind of it.

I had similar moments throughout the weekend - people I knew really well at one stage and I just didn't want to talk to or speak with. Because, what do you say to someone you don't know anymore?

Then, moment two.

For a long time I had really sentimental rituals. There is a spot outside my parents house where I used to stand at night and think about my first boyfriend, who passed away while I was finishing school. And I used to reach down and touch the spot where we broke up, which is just around the corner from our house. I don't know when I grew out of this habit, but I hadn't done this for ages... maybe even before I started teaching. There were other favourite places I used to have, and things that used to mean something, and they don't. At all. After visiting old stomping grounds and accepting change, I can finally claim I have lost the fine art of sentimentality.

Have I though?

In some ways, I have lost the connectedness I used to feel about my adopted home town.The only place I really like to be when I'm there is at my parents' house, because that is really my home and has been for twenty years now. But, I know that my real home town, Warrnambool, holds for me everything that makes me who I am. And I don't mean memories or weird rituals for someone I didn't even love, let alone really like very much. The things I love most about where I am from is not being, but doing. Scrambling around cliff tops, scourging for sea glass, pies from Chittick's and walks to Thunder Point, and my grandparents' church and bowling and making wishes that don't come true. My heart could burst with all the love I have for that place and everything it will always hold for me. 

In school I was always trying to cling to some memory. I took lots of photos because no one else did. I made scrapbooks with photos of people who don't remember my name. I wrote about them in a journal I hope no one ever reads. If you go to so many lengths to keep a memory, it isn't really worth it.

Where I belong isn't so much about location. It is about who I belong to. And I belong to Stephen and my family and my friends (actual friends, not people I haven't seen since I was 17) and my cat. That's what it is really all about. And if I need to take photos or keep menus from bad Mexican cafes, I have lost the point. Because, it's about being in the moment. All of me, right here. That's where I am.