Backpacking across years

She is an old friend, although I’ve known her not long at all.

I cannot pinpoint the moment she became such an important part of my life, but she is a gentle, strong soul, and she helped maneouvre me back when the Melbourne wind blew a bit too strong for me to see clearly. She, who was at least half my size and looked half as young.

But she is older, and in the brief moments when I do forget it, it is striking how time seems to have given her a miss. As if to make people pay extra attention to this tiny, precious thing. I cannot understand anyone who doesn’t like her, who doesn’t want her to hold onto, like an anchor (like a sister). When life got a bit too messy for me, she held me fast to the ground, fed me normalcy. Listened to me with those big wise eyes that have seen more and understand more than I do.

After two long years, we met again yesterday. We messed around with pronouns, time having made our conversational pattern a bit fuzzy. But having her near reminded me how much of home she had become for me, in those trying months when I was thinking too much and doing too little.

We have something new in common now – a homesickness for a place that never quite became Home. The day seemed to slow down, as days often do when you’re around her, and I’d forgotten to become distracted by all the small things that had come to define my life. I’d forgotten what it was like to focus. To slow down. To look at something and not try to condense it in 140 characters or less.

This is what it was like, I thought. This was what I’d missed.

What she means to me is exploring museums on rainy mornings. Trudging puddles to get to warm coffee. Languid walking down wide paved streets. Marathon eating trips while talking about life’s annoying mysteries, figuring out compromises together. Making pictures out of everyday. Looking for the pretty. Trying to define the beautiful. Asserting our individuality in a place that had far too much of it, and sometimes too litte.

Yesterday, without our familiar city in the backdrop – us present instead in the rush of the new, familiar hectic – we looked and felt lost and tired. But at least she was in my Here and Now. And so was I.

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