We never change (do we…)

This has taken me a while to write. Not for want of trying. Not for some emotional barrier. More a kind of blogger’s block. I’m sure it’s not contagious, nasty rash though…

So the lads are gone. Quite obviously, many of you have probably seen Phil since he returned (without camera and fleece, tut, tut. Thou shalt not leave stuff on Air New Zealand Flight 2 while I have a kip in LAX…). Spud is not quite home yet. And if all goes according to (his) plan he should be adrift in a yacht somewhere off the NE coast of Australia.

They are conspicuous in their absence. Indeed I can see the carpet for the first time in two weeks, not covered in sleeping bags, air mattresses, odd socks and bodies. There’s an extra 3 books on the sideboard, deposited as used reading material by my guests (El Diego – Maradonna’s autobiography – Spud, The gathering storm – Winston Churchill – Spud and You don’t know me – Phil).

I miss them. In that for a while it felt like home. Or maybe that I was at home. Or that maybe I never left. Not all of those are positive. Comforting at least, if not positive. I had a similar thing when Simon and Ruth (my brother and his boss… wife, I mean…) left. That you spend all the time getting used to them being there and then they go. Maybe it just seems a bit more pronounced cause I know that in two weeks I will be home. And I know I’ve been thinking about that more and more as time passes. Not just cause winter has finally landed with a grey and sodden squelch.

People are hard work. In general. Some more than others. I have a hermit fantasy (steady…) that life would be much more straight forward if I lived in a cabin in the forest and hunted deer and grew a beard (ha!) and read old dusty leather bound books and scared off young children. My fear is that maybe I’ve come far too close to that already.

Some people struggle with their own company, that the thought of a day on their own, with no one to talk to, no one to waste time with, that this would scare the life out of them. I am of the opposite disposition that a day on my own is to be savoured, to be enjoyed, to think, to read and (by GOD’s sweet grace) to rejoice in GOD’s glory. I have sneaking suspicions that my disposition is perhaps more the disposition of those who think that really they’re rather worth a lot more than can they are.

To be more realistic, people are a lot more complicated than this, and this is only scratching the surface. Which is kind of the point. People are complicated. We all have our own souls, joys, passions, gifts, fears and dreams. And somehow we expect to get on.

Or to rephrase, we expect to get on effortlessly. Because we, or rather I, am at the centre of my own little Andy-centred universe, it confuses me that the people around me aren’t quite how I would have made them. And given that I am the boss of this little shrunken world then this comes as a surprise.

Distance helps. Being 15000 miles away helps you listen better. If only cause you get more emails, and it’s hard to interrupt half way through an email. It helps you confess. It is easier for me to ‘glory in my weakness’ here than it is at home. I can write things in emails or blogs or songs that mere proximity may have kept me from. I suppose it’s the basic principle that if you shut your eyes tight and you can’t see all the people then it ain’t nearly as scary.

There are people who I have ‘seen’ only in wonderful emails over the past year. People who I feel closer to now than I did before I left. There are people who I have barely ‘seen’ in the past year. Most of whom I think will slip back into my life as if I merely nipped out for a pint of milk.

I got an email saying how it would good to see me when I get back to see how I changed. And it struck me that perhaps I hadn’t expected that. I’d expected others to change without me. For me to miss out a year of their life could only mean I miss out on what would have been shared experience. But I never thought that the awkward silence between two friends reunited could have anything to do with me. That the reflective pause could be someone noting, ‘yes, you’re different’. Simon says people don’t change. I argue with him, but deep down maybe I agree. There is truth and there is falsehood in that statement. Another long blog in itself.

I miss people who know me. Who know me as an idiot and a selfish prick, and despite how they would have me different, they still love me. I know lots of people here, but I know none of them so that they know me. I miss the family of GOD. We fight and spit and kick but they will never let me stray too far.

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June 2007
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