This year on March 9th I tweeted “Laid in my van listening to a couple breaking up next door. Can’t now move as I don’t think they realise I am here”, and several follow ons as an hour or so passed.
I was having a little lay down in my van at a campsite in Arrowtown after a busy week. I’d closed my curtains to shut the outside world out for a bit and was reading a book and pissing around on social media when I heard the couple that had pulled up earlier having a conversation that I couldn’t help overhearing. I really tried hard not to, but it was impossible. The girl was quite loud, and crying.
It soon became clear they were breaking up. Awkward. She’d moved over from Canada and he wasn’t being supportive. As she explained to him all her feelings and fears, it was like listening to my own life a year ago. Every single one resonated. Exactly what I had felt, moving to a new country for a partner. A partner that didn’t really recognise what a big deal it was, or a partner that didn’t do much more than just expect the other to fit into their NZ life.
She was putting herself out there, being vulnerable, and this guy hardly said a word. He mumbled some shit excuses but nothing concrete. She left pauses for him to speak, and he kept quiet. She filled the silences with apologies, when [I thought] she had nothing to apologise for. She was giving everything, and he was giving nothing.
“My heart is breaking for her.” I tweeted. And it was. I wanted to tell her it was OK. I wanted to tell her it was normal, that moving to a new country for a new partner was really bloody hard. That all those feelings were valid, and that she shouldn’t apologise for feeling them. That moving to a new country for a partner was different from just moving to a new country. That actually, sometimes it’s easier without the partner.
It all went quiet. They’d stopped talking and were having a cuddle. I figured they’d made up but my concentration had drifted for the last bit of the conversation so I didn’t know how it had actually ended. I was getting twitchy; I was due to meet a friend, they were on their way and I needed the toilet. I didn’t want to get out the van as it would’ve been obvious that I’d overheard their conversation, but I had no choice, they were still there. I figured it would have been even weirder if I’d got out the other side, so I just brazened it out and hopped out nonchalantly.
I happened to run into them at the toilet block, and as the guy went to the bathroom I ran over to the girl, apologised for having heard their conversation but told her all the things I’d wanted to. That everything she was feeling was normal, that it WAS hard and that it would be OK, whatever happened. I gave her my phone number and told her to ring me if she ever wanted to chat to someone who’d been in the same situation.
I got a text a few minutes later. “Hi Tara! Katie the cryer here.”
And that’s how our friendship started.