Tuesday, 21 August 2007

how long have you got?

I went down the street in my lunch break today, to the TradeAid shop (like Ten Thousand Villages without the religion), to buy some sugar, and also as it happened a little choccy bar to lift my spirits. Imagine my surprise at being served at the counter by a lady who sounded suspiciously like she was from Derbyshire.

She was; Belper, to be precise. Although her accent suggested she arrived on the last boat, she has actually been here in New Zealand for thirty-four years. She'd just returned from a trip back to England for her mother's 90th birthday, where she had enjoyed, as she put it "rekindling friendships" - some with people she hadn't seen for fifty years.

Anyway, finding things a litle difficult today re: homesickness (and I don't even know which "home", though to be honest, a bit of all of them) I asked her to share her secrets of having well and truly settled this far away.

Here was the cup of comfort. She stopped wishing she could go home...

...after eighteen years.

The space was for you to digest that fact.

I wondered later what if, after eighteen years, you found you still kind of wanted to go home? Would ya give it another six months? Another year? Another eighteen?

I also wondered if she said anything at the time? "Gee, honey, I've been sort of unhappy for the last nine years. I'm not sure, but I think it might be more than just missing Tetley's tea and Ribena and Soreen malt loaf. Shall we check in again this time next year and see how I'm doing?"

What on earth do you do with eighteen years of homesickness? How can it not simply press you most utterly and completely into the ground? Or at the very least, make you really, really sick?

Other people's lives are so endlessly fascinating. It can't be just me that now wants to hear the story of those eighteen years (complete with three children, now all around my age). For one thing, sure, I'll bloom where I'm planted and I'll give things the old fair go, but I'm pretty certain that is a kind of strength I don't have - to keep doing something that makes you unhappy for that long.

The nice lady from Belper told me to drop in anytime for a chat, but I don't think I'll ask her about it.

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