I can’t go back

I’ve had the privilege of seeing a precious friend twice in two days. We went to church together what feels like an eternity ago. In the emotional roller coaster known as the teenage years a deep and lasting friendship was formed. I treasure her.

Since then, I’ve moved countless times, lived overseas and am finally back in Sydney where we’ve been able to see each other infrequently. She got married not long after I first moved away, and has stayed in the same area, worked, had some kids, and been faithful at church. Our lives have been very different. Not better, not worse, just different.

As I sit on the platform at Eastwood Station waiting for the train that will whisk me to my home, I feel nostalgic.

I went to school around here and lived close by too, so it all feels very familiar. The combination of geographical familiarity and precious friends is making me long for a time long gone. I miss that time. Everything was easier (or it felt like it). Friendships were less complicated. We had less responsibility. I wish I could go back there. It was a nicer time: I would see friends more regularly, I didn’t have to schedule people in to my diary, they were just assumed presences. I knew less people and was less busy.

But I can’t go back. Not least because I don’t have a time machine. But even if I moved back here, that wouldn’t fix things either. The film Midnight in Paris describes nostalgia as:

denial – denial of the painful present… the name for this denial is golden age thinking – the erroneous notion that a different time period is better than the one ones living in.

Sometimes the present is painful. Sometimes I wish I could go back and make different decisions. Sometimes I think I just want a do-over.

Mostly I just wish that I could spend quality time with all the people I know. I wish that the world was a little smaller and that I didn’t have an insatiable desire to travel and explore new places. Or that I could take everyone I know with me.

I probably need to find a wishing well and let that one go.


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