The Last Lasts
“Deep into that darkness peering,
long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting,
dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before.”
Edgar Allen Poe.
I reclaim this quote in the name of English Literature from the neglected side of this morning’s can of Relentless energy drink. Why they thought that Edgar Allen Poe is an appropriate spokesman for fizzy stuff with stupid quantities of caffeine that had me quivering in my chair all morning I’ll never know. It’s a good quote though and apt; albeit a little dark. When I came to work this morning moving to Thailand in less than three weeks felt a little like one day having grey hair and hot flushes – catastrophe aside it’s fairly inevitable but not something that’s immediately pressing. I decided to send an email to all my work contacts letting them know that Friday is my last day and to contact someone else after then and got some email pleasantries back wishing me well. All of a sudden like a bucket of Thai curry over the head I was completely aware of the fact that I’m moving to Thailand in less than three weeks. By the previous analogy it was like waking up to find a brilliant white Morticia streak in the front of my long locks. I slept badly last night, tossing around half dreaming and then checking the clock in a panic every hour, hence the Relentless this morning. It was possibly a bad choice though, once my Thai reality check hit me I was a bundle of nervous energy on my office wheelie chair, my attempts to stop myself from grinning like a chimp just succeeded in making me look like I was gurning worse than Pete Doherty on festival day. I felt drunk on the future; totally unable to concentrate on anything and my brain full of nothing but visions of Thailand and my new life. These demented episodes seem to be getting more intense and closer together like contractions before the big event.
Everything has become a last last. My last night in my local pub. My last ridiculous après-work Friday night drink in Winchester that turns into carnage with an obscure bunch of people. My last night chilling at my friend’s house drinking beer and munching junk food. My last goodbye to colleagues. That’s an odd one; these are the people who have made up the fabric of my life for the last few years, I’ve chatted about their families and their lives with them and gotten to know their quirks and annoyances. I’ve enjoyed deranged banter with them, but in an office of 600 I know that there are many who I won’t keep in touch with and goodbye will probably mean goodbye. I want all these last moments to be especially poignant, that last beer should taste extra perfect, that last chat should be extra meaningful – it doesn’t work like that though alas. I know when I go I’ll want a good last cuddle with my dog but he’ll pick that moment to turn into a wriggly little bugger and be trying to get away to bark at pigeons. I’m a sentimental old sop really. I want people to get onboard with me when I’m getting misty-eyed about the last time I use my executive stapler or the last time I cradle a pint of cider; unfortunately other people are less moved and more bored by my constant observations of lasts. That’s not to say I’m bursting into great gulping floods of tears every time I walk past a lamppost I fear I won’t see again for years; oh lamppost, you’ve been a constant companion on this particular walk… On the contrary, there’s a sense of nostalgia largely over-shadowed by the fact that it being another last means that the firsts are getting nearer; and that gives me a squirmy, impatient feeling that makes me want to giggle and clap my hands like a 6 year-old at the zoo.
Deciding if I’m coming back is like asking if I’m going to marry a man I’ve yet to have a blind date with. When I say to my parents “of course I’m coming back” they scoff and eyeball me. Yet when someone says something like “it’ll be a great experience, you’ve got to do these things while you’re young!” I think to myself; this isn’t an experience and I’m not planning on it being a thing I tick off my life list before I carry on the same as before back in Blighty. I’m planning on making a real life for myself abroad for the foreseeable future. Will I stay forever? Who knows, I don’t think so but a few years definitely. When I came back from 6 years living in Cardiff I wandered around my old home town and nothing had changed, I meandered up the road I lived on when I was 6 and ventured into the same park after a good decade; it really was creepily unaltered. I guess what I realised then is that asides from a few superficial changes home will always be here. Come back for short periods, come back forever, come back in 6 months or 6 years and there will still be the same shoddy bus route, the same village neanderthals and the same massive harvest-festival granny pants for sale on the Saturday market. That said the Wisteria on the house will still blossom every spring, the sun will still take a beautiful technicoloured hour to set and the taxi drivers will still have proper licenses and photo ID. The only thing I can guarantee is that it will not be me as I am now that returns; I will not come back until the itch is well and truly scratched – however long that takes.
“Time goes, you say? Ah no!
Alas, Time stays, we go.”
~Henry Austin Dobson
Just as I was about to post this blog a rainbow appeared outside my bedroom window and hung around just long enough for me to take a picture.