“Well, are you glad to be home?”
The question du jour. It always makes me pause, a brief moment to remember to smile and I find myself mumbling “auch yes, it’s lovely to be near family again’. I yearn for home, that place of safety and belonging, I just don’t know where I put it. Like the car keys, I know it should be around here somewhere. We exist at the moment on our own little patch of no-man’s land, neither here nor there, with the strangest feeling of being exiles and a strong sense of deja vu.
We end as we began with the bewildering task of settling in this land. It’s somehow harder this time round because I feel I ought to know my way; like remembering a familiar tune but completely forgetting the words. I feel wrong-footed, dislocated and confused. It’s not just that we’ve changed or we can’t find our way round Tescos but that everyone else has moved on too. We have not shared their joys and sorrows these last two years, nor they ours. Nothing that time and a few bottles of wine can’t fix but there is a yearning to be known and a grieving for those we have loved and left in Vancouver. Here as there I must begin again the slow dance of friendship and let the landscape get under my fingernails.
I’m struck at the symmetry of going and coming back – one a mirror image of the other. Houses emptied and filled, filled and emptied; the heartache of goodbyes with dear ones and the awkwardness of hellos; letting go and desperately clinging on. I see myself in that mirror and watch as my younger self deals with that first transition to Vancouver. How little compassion she has for herself and how very afraid she is – that she will not cope, that there will be no place for her.
It is so much harder than she thought it would be, a much anticipated pleasure cruise turns out to be white water rafting. She shakes her fist, kicks the stones and rages and rages at the heavenlies. Hope lost and found and lost again. Three wise women arrive: to midwife the birth of deep truths, to lift her to the one who heals, to love her well. With them the gifts of wisdom, strength and friendship and the knowledge that I am not who I was. Then peace, laughter and those longed for green shoots finally break through the barren ground.
The end of one adventure and another begins. Still a little afraid of what these changes mean to my new-old life here but breathing a little deeper, trusting a little more. I cling to the parting words of one of my wise women: ‘All that has been given to you, it will not be taken away’.
Oh, my Aslan, you are not safe but you are very, very good.