It’s 3pm and I’m sat outside the Royal William on the Brayford with a pint of Moretti in the sun. There’s a lot of algae on the water and as I take a sip of my beer I wonder briefly what causes it. I should know, I think. But I don’t, and the thought slips away as quickly as it formed.
I watch people walk past, scanning faces in case I see someone I know. I’m expecting to, I realise. Surely I’ll see someone I know? It feels like I should, but I’ve not lived in Lincoln for nearly ten years, and people – and places – change. In some ways it feels like I’ve gone back in time, like I still live here, and that’s a disconcerting thought.
My friend Sarah left New Zealand in April to go back to Scotland for a year. The pandemic took it’s toll on migrants being separated from their families, and Sarah wanted to spend an extended period of time living back with her family. ‘I can’t wait, but I’m worried about reverting back to the person I was before I moved to New Zealand though. To living life with values that are different to how I live now. To feel like an outsider.’ she said.
I can totally relate. Not that there’s anything wrong with those lives we led once, but they’re gone now, they’re in the past, and it’d feel like going backwards.
I feel an urge to tell people I don’t live here anymore for some reason. Shop workers, bar staff, people in queues. Just now, when I was buying my drink, I found a way to tell the girl behind the bar I lived in New Zealand. Maybe it’s a way of reminding myself. The longer I’m here, the more familiar everything becomes and the more my memories of life over there get buried a little deeper.
I’ve only been here for just over three weeks but it seems a lot longer. And then I think maybe I’m overthinking (likely, we all do that right?), but coming back after 4 years from a place that I never 100% fully committed to living long term, after a global pandemic, feels like a big deal for me. There’s been times over the last couple of years that I’ve not known if I’d ever get back (catastrophising, but the threat felt very real to me). Sounds and smells trigger all the memories and all the emotions.
This isn’t really a holiday, although I’m having the BEST time. Better than I could hope for. I have so much gratitude for the people, the time I’m getting with them and their generosity. And the FULLEST time. My days are full of people, life admin, running, biking or just STUFF. And isn’t England just amazing?
It’s a trip to reconnect but also disconnect. I’m finally sorting out all my stuff, and figuring out how to get it to NZ. Saying out loud to people who want you to come back, that you’re choosing not to. Feeling guilty I’m not spending enough time with people. But really, there’ll never be enough time. I’m just trying to make it quality time.
Then there’s the fledgling relationship waiting for me, where these 10 weeks seem a lifetime before we can see what happens. I feel guilty a small part of me is looking forward to when I get back, because this amount of time off is a gift and a privilege, and I feel torn at how much time I want to spend connecting with Ben.
Yesterday it all felt a bit much. I’m surprised it took this long to be fair, there’s so many emotions floating around, and I felt anxious over nothing in particular. I went out for a run and had a cry. That helped. Then went to Karl’s and drank beer. That also helped.