I never miss people more than when I’m actually speaking to them or in their presence.
I had a three and a half hour long phone call with my sister today and it was painful. We were just filling each other in on what we’d been up to, talking shit, all the usual – it wasn’t as if we were having a real heart-to-heart or having a frank discussion about the fact that she now lives 3417.9 kilometres away. But that’s why it was so painful. We never really spoke on the phone when she lived in Perth because we saw each other a couple of time a week. Now that she lives in Melbourne, phone calls have become very important.
My sister still texts me the same things she did when she lived in Perth – it’s more often than not a link to some shitpost on Tumblr or it’s a drawing she’s been working on or something like that. I love getting these texts. Always did. In this sense, nothing has changed. Even the fact that I don’t see her anymore is something I can explain away to make myself feel better; if she’s texting me ridiculous memes and I haven’t seen her in a while, I can easily convince myself that she’s just up the highway at her place and I can go around any time I want to see her, or we can meet halfway for a coffee in Leederville or something like that. When I chat to her on the phone I am painfully aware of the fact that she is walking around Melbourne, or she is hanging out in her apartment in South Yarra, and she’s a long way away from me. The distance between us is never more heavy on my mind than when I’m laughing and chatting with her on the phone. We’re having such a good time but all I can think about is the fact that we should be having this conversation in person, we should be together. Don’t get me wrong, I am super happy for her up and moving her life to Melbourne – it’s what she wanted, it’s the right decision for her and what she wants to do, and I couldn’t be more proud that she is actively pursuing what she wants. But it still hurts.
It hurts knowing that I can’t drive over to her place and spend the day watching Always Sunny and eating roast veggies with her. It hurts knowing that she can’t come over and annoy the cat with me. It hurts knowing that we can’t sit under a tree somewhere and hash-out all the shit that’s been going on in the world at large, or in our lives personally. When I’m not on the phone with her I can pretend that she’s on her way over or I can pretend that we’re going to meet by the river tomorrow to just spend the day debriefing. When I’m on the phone with her I’m reminded that that part of our lives is over. At least for the foreseeable future.
I feel the same way about my friend Amy.
In December 2014 Amy left Australia for a two year adventure in Canada. She had been my best friend for fourteen years and I was totally lost when she left. The day she flew out we had coffee in the morning to say goodbye. When I got home I laid down on the floor in our front room and cried. I cried and I cried and I cried. I was there for about an hour and a half sobbing harder than I can ever remember, before I eventually exhausted myself out and fell asleep. The next six months were easily the hardest of my life, they would have been whether Amy had left or not, but the fact that she wasn’t around the corner from me anymore certainly hurt.
I ended up visiting Amy in Canada in December 2015 and it was absolutely magical. But the whole time I was there I was acutely aware of the fact that I had to leave again in a few days. I was acutely aware of how happy and healthy she was, and how well Canada suited her. I was acutely aware that things were never going to go back to the way they were before. And I was painfully, horribly aware of what saying goodbye to her felt like. Again, I feel nothing but pride and happiness for her bold move to Canada. It was exactly what she needed and I’m so so glad she went. But it still hurt, it couldn’t not hurt.
A weird thing happened when she came back to Australia after two years though. I didn’t see her much.
She literally lives around the corner from me, and yet I can probably count on two hands how many times we actually got together. See, when I went to her house or we went for a walk or whatever it may be, all I could think about was the fact that she made me feel so comfortable and happy and balanced, and the fact that she was going to leave again. I didn’t like seeing her and feeling good because I didn’t want to be reminded of all the good that I would inevitably lose again soon. I know that’s fucked up and selfish and self-sabotaging, but it’s true. I would even hesitate to make plans with her because it was so painful for me to see her and have a wonderful time with her. I love her so so much, but I confused and sabotaged myself for three months and now she is gone again. But now it’s almost as if it’s easier, because I’m used to this kind of pain, I know what it feels like to not have her here.
Isn’t that just the stupidest thing you’ve ever heard?
Why did I do that? Why didn’t I make more of an effort to see her as often as possible, to talk to her for hours on end, to laugh with her, to go for drives and sing at the top of our lungs? Why did I have to make it so fucking weird for myself? I think my strange logic was that if I kept my distance then it wouldn’t hurt as much when she left again.
I mean…doesn’t this just bode so well for any future relationships I have? If I ever meet anyone, that is. But that’s a sob story/pity party for another time.
Basically all I’m doing here is complaining about a stupid problem that I only make a problem for myself because I am ridiculous. I set myself up for pain, and so it comes. In waves. Long, heavy, destabilising waves. And it’s all on me; totally and utterly on me. My sister and Amy are the most important people in my life and I love them with every fibre of my being. Nothing makes me happier than knowing that they are out in the world reaching for the stars, listening to their hearts, and following their dreams. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
What has to change here is me. I have to sort my shit out and stop choosing to fuck myself over at every turn.
*originally posted 9 February 2017