Such a long time away, seventeen years. Coming back was terrifying but not so hard in the end.
I find myself searching faces when I'm out and about, especially in the neighbourhood of my childhood, where my mother still lives in the house where I grew. Most of the time, of course, these are strangers I study. But sometimes...
My brain jolts, catches for a moment as it flickers through the long-ago files of faces, names and places. It's something like the scene in the library from Ghostbusters, with paper card files flying out of stacks, frantically looking for a connection. There are times the card I'm looking for is right there, first in the stack. Like yesterday, when by chance an old friend climbed out of the car parked in front of me, and going in the same direction. I'd seen her another time as I passed this place, prompting a few questions to a mutual friend and gathering a bit of background. I'd already pulled her file to the front, so as we fell into step walking alongside each other as if it were days and not years since we'd last met.
But today, as I left a meeting with a new cohort of faces, someone acknowledged a passer-by, calling her by name. With just a fleeting glance from the side, my files were flying. Even as I repeated her name aloud, grabbing her attention once more, I wasn't sure. I hadn't placed her yet, despite having the name and the face. This one took some serious digging into the way back files, trying one area and then another, still searching for her place. Her expression was blank, even as I approached, until almost simultaneously that moment of recognition came. Relief! So many questions, so much joy to cross paths once again. We exchange numbers. I smile as we part, promising to get in touch.
This familiar place that is also new in many ways. I'd always sworn I wouldn't come back, though I'm not sure why. What I do know, is I'm relishing the connectedness to place and people who have known me so long, while being in such a different stage in my life that makes my life here new. Coming home to be near my family with my own family.
Such a long time away, seventeen years. Days like today, though, doesn't feel long at all.