These last couple of days I’ve had a long-time friend staying with me. She and I became friends when, as fifteen-year-olds who caught the same bus home from school, we one day noticed a sheep standing on a hill in a paddock, its head above the rest its flock. It looked so quaint standing there that we looked for it again the next day. And the next day, and the next. And every day, there it was, and so our acquaintance developed into a friendship.
She and I spent so much easy time together over the next three years that it’s always what we return to when we see each other now. We talk for hours about nothing and everything.
This friend lives in another part of the country to me—and has done for all but two years of our adult lives. I miss her. And that missing hurts most whenever we part company again.
For various reasons, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about missing people. And about living away from people that you miss. In my adult life, I’m yet to live in the same city as either of my brothers, and I find myself envying siblings who see each other frequently. In the same way, I wish it was easy for me to just be in my parents’ company. A three hour bus trip, in my opinion, is not easy.
Having grown up in a small country town, I have friends who live all over the country. And having moved interstate more than once myself has only added to the list of people I miss.
Missing people is a strange thing. It’s not strange that it happens—of course it does. What I mean is that the feeling itself is strange. Missing someone feels like it creates a little tear in me somewhere, or a loose stitch. Just something tiny, really. But that tiny instability is something I’m always aware of, and it changes the way I move through life. It means I have to take more care, lest the tear grow larger, or the stitch come looser; lest I begin to fall apart. Those small breakages need to be tended to regularly.
Missing people, for me, is quite separate to missing a place. Missing people does not mean I want to be where they are, necessarily, but it does mean I want to be with them. The difference is subtle, I suppose. And it’s odd to me that there can be that separation, that seeming contradiction. The way I miss people confuses me. That I can still function, and pursue other things, and miss people the way I do seems odd. I guess caring about someone enough to miss them when they’re not near doesn’t mean I don’t want other things. And wanting those other things is not a reflection on my feelings for the people I miss (which is something I’ve worried over from time to time).
Tomorrow it is my recently-departed-from-my-company friend’s birthday. Which reminds me that when I saw her this time last year I started writing a post very much like this one, but never published it. This year I will. Happy birthday, dear friend. Know that I miss you when we are not near one another, and that the missing means I really appreciate the time we do get together. May we have more of it sooner rather than later.
What a beautiful post. I have been thinking about missing people too – as I have just moved from the inner city to a country town where I don’t really know anyone. I don’t want to go back, but I want the people I’m missing to see what I’m seeing. I’m not lonely but I am alone more often. I love this new place…
Moving’s hard, isn’t it? I always think it’s so strange that we can hold these two seemingly exclusive feelings (love for a new place, missing the old place or the people in it) within ourselves simultaneously. And you never stop missing people (and places), I reckon; you just learn (or don’t, as the case may be) how to cope with that missing.
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