Year Abroad Diaries: 25 September 2012

I’m not sure what to write at this stage. So much of this journal has just been speculation, worrying or reflecting. Now I’m a day from going, I’m not sure what’s left to do.

Goodbyes are certainly one thing. I met J and A today for lunch at a local café. We talked a lot of France, meeting up, photocopying, where we’re staying and what we’ll be teaching. When I dropped J off at her house, we said goodbye. Her face dropped. “You have to remember though,” I reminded her, “we’re going to the same country, not a different one!”

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Stuff like that is hard to sharpen. It’s difficult not to feel completely exposed and alone though solace in a best friend lies only 3 hours away by TGV. That’s when I’m thankful my father is coming with me, so the alienness of being thrown into a foreign town will be diluted for a while.

I know I’m really hitting the farewell time because today I visited my cousin and his family. His daughters had crafted good luck presents. The youngest had designed a drawing of both our families: parents at the top, someone on a slide, two on swings, and my brother’s hair was very realistically vertical as he bounced on a trampoline.The eldest was in charge of the card and had very painstakingly written one patriotic letter in red, then the next in blue, which must have taken her a fair while. I told them both that their creations would be taken to France and blu-tacked to my bedroom wall. They’re in my case now.

It’s such an odd thing, time. In 12 hours I will be in Southampton. In 24 I’ll be in a hotel room in my town. In a week’s time, I’ll still be there. In several months, there again. Everything is changing.

Well, not really. Everything is exactly the same apart from my situation, which is Normandy and not the west of Scotland. All my friends and family feel the same, C is the same, I am the same. Perhaps I will be the only thing that alters.

The last supper, the pre-departure dinner, rippled merrily with a strong undercurrent of melancholy. Sensations of suppressed tears hid underneath the table; above it presents were passed.  C had bought me a photo frame with both of us smiling and some chalk for teaching. I hoped the classrooms wouldn’t be that archaic.

To my surprise, everyone has decided to come to the airport tomorrow at 5am (!) to see us off. We all parted for our boxed isolations early to gain as much energy as possible before the early start. No toothpaste, so I descended to source some. A door cracked open and I was surrounded by my mother’s warmth.

“It’s such a change,” she sniffed. “I know you and your brother will have to go away; my job is done. You’ll understand when you’re a parent. It’s sadness, an emptiness, when your children leave.” I nodded at truth. I know perhaps one day, I will feel the same. Sometimes I wish I could just stay so she wouldn’t have to hurt.

But it’s time to fly. The plane lifts at ten to seven.

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