I had a dream the other night.
We were all walking through the winding streets of some dream-blended European city. I was trying to remember the way back to a hostel or train station, following my nose and testing my memory. Looking at shops and street signs for clues.
I led the five of us down into a subway entrance that turned left under the streets and sloped downhill slightly. Shops lined each side – those shallow, glass fronted shops selling cakes or souvenirs. We were walking along this subway and we passed a bar that opened onto the passing stream of people. There were bar stools sitting under a long high shelf against which lent a few old men, their backs turned to us.
One of them suddenly started signing Edelweiss in soft, deep rich tones. Quietly another joined in, then another and soon there was a close crowd of old European men all signing together. Slow, wistful – almost funereal – but haunting and beautiful.
I stopped our little family and we stepped out of the passing stream of people to listen. We stood (as we used to often do) and just soaked it all up.
In this dream I turned to our little family and said “Just soak it up! This will be over soon. Before we know it we will be back in Australia and this will seem like it never happened. All of this wonder and magic will seem like it was a dream!”
So we stood and let a the sounds of Edelweiss sung by a group of old European men sweep over us.
And then I woke up.
I don’t quite know what I felt. A dash of sadness, with nostalgia and longing mixed in. That bitter sweetness of remembering the joy of something so incredible while you have already moved into the next phase and there is no possible way to ever return.
Its not like a favourite camping spot or East Coast beach that you can return to at whim and you know that one summer will generally feel like another summer. It’s not like your favourite restaurant or alley in Melbourne which you just decide to see and then you go and see.
It will never come back. We can go again, walk streets, travel as a little gang of five again – but it will be a new journey, never what we just had.
Yes – I know – that is reality. You can never return and a returning is never the same anyway so I have given up trying to recreate these things. I have learnt to let it just glow in my memory and be what it is. But I would be lying if I said it was always easy to do – that letting go of the journey.
I have lost count of how many people have asked: “So – how is it back in the real world?”
I usually give some standard response about readjustment – but lately I have just replied “Who says this is the real world?”
Who says that this routine is the real one. The regularity and predictability. The transaction of commerce. The responsibilities of mortgages. The week in and week out that, if I am completely and brutally honest, often blend so smoothly into one and I cant actually recall the difference between 3 weeks ago and 5 weeks ago. What did I do 6 weekends ago? Just give me a minute to check my iPhone calendar.
My “real” life now measured by little electronic icons of tasks and events. Where merely months ago we measured the passing of time by countries, stamps in passports, mountains we had climbed or which cobblestoned streets in an ancient town we had walked down.
Aaahhh…there I go again. Off and dreaming, sounding dangerous.
I had better sign off and finish this blog. Offspring is on.