Monday, December 20

The Final Ten

It's ten more days to the new year. I will be twenty-seven in six months. This is about the time when I generally get wistful and things have a tendency to unravel. There'll not be any soul searching necessary to find out why this time, though. The answer's obvious enough.

I've gotten used to solitary experiences for so long that nothing really hits me anymore - until of course the realisation sets in that for the umpteenth time, I will be coming home to an empty house; and the fact that it affects me, more than anything simply reflects how much I have changed again in the past year.

Being missed is perhaps as much a part of being alive as anything else. We take delight in knowing that our continued absence distresses someone, that our presence is wanted - that we are part of something other than eking out a living. In this somewhat festive season I've been reminded again and again that it doesn't matter what you have, or who you are. It's who you come home to that makes all the difference. In my mind, I've mapped out every single step I will take when I arrive at my apartment - to the smallest degree.

Steps to door, swing luggage inside, switch TV and home theatre unit on (if they're not already), bring suitcase into room, switch on Internet - that pretty much describes what I do every day after work. It will also be the scenario (albeit with some changes) I will act out when I finally arrive home after this southern trip. I've done it so often that it's become ingrained in my reflexes.

I realise - now more than ever how much of a double edged sword this detachment of mine is. It is both a boon and a curse. A boon - because I am for all intents and purposes untouchable, and a curse because the very nature of being detached means that I cannot allow myself the perceived weakness of succumbing to the very loneliness I abhor. In every person I meet, I am constantly calculating the complex mix of gives and takes - sometimes I even see the end of the relationship beforehand, and so I pull back.

Some people have told me that I set impossible standards in the company I choose to keep; and to this I reply that if I do, it is only because I know the people around me would expect nothing less (but then again, I am somewhat insane). The truth of the matter is of course much simpler - I cannot allow myself anything less.

I appear cold to some, thoughtless to others. I can be impossibly blunt to a fault - traits that would otherwise estrange me from decent human company, all for the express reason that there is still something I am looking for that I haven't found in a long, long while.

Or perhaps a more accurate description would be that I'm not even sure if I am looking. Whatever it is I've lost or found, I have only this to say - there is nothing quite like the feeling of coming home. You don't have to live there. All it takes is a person's gaze, their laughter, the embrace, that warm feeling of welcome, that rush of God, I hope you don't ever have to go again, ever, and for a brief moment you are safe.

It will be awhile before I can allow myself that luxury - and until then I will continue as I have been. A little lonely, a little frightened, even; but eyes and ears open, always open. There are some lessons I will have to learn yet.

Have a happy festive season, from the Ox. May you find yourselves safe with the people you love - and always remember: the cold is outside, and it is an envious thing.