So I went to Los Angeles (saw a friend I hadn’t seen since the 90s, when we both had very different hair!) and I went to Mexico (dived with seals and sea turtles and ate a lot of huevos divorciados!) and then I came back to New Zealand (sat on a plane for many hours but it’s okay because I took a Benadryl!) and now I am home.
I am home, sitting on my couch, looking at all the boxes I have yet to unpack from storage, thinking I should really get up and get dinner started. I am home, boiling water for tea in my very own electric kettle. I am home, getting blown around the Wellington streets yet still having to remember to put on extra sunscreen after several months. I am home, seeing all the friends I so desperately wanted to see, going to lunch and brunch and dinner and tea, texting to sort out who’s going to drinks and to the outdoor concert and to the movies and to the park.
And everyone is so good to me—they let me Talk About It or Not Talk About it, as I choose, and everyone listens so well and no one says anything awful and I look at them over the tea mugs or the café table and wonder what I did to know such good people, here and on the other side of the world: what did I do to get to be around the best people at the worst time?
But still. Still, I think about her. I think about things I don’t necessarily want to remember: helping her eat and how after a while she didn’t open her eyes anymore even to chew. I think about putting in the BBC Planet Earth DVDs one more time even though she couldn’t follow them very well. I think about her last breaths, her last breath, and how I didn’t know what I was seeing and so did not get into bed with her to hold her until it was all over, until it was too late.
She came to visit me here, twice—the second time she stayed in my tiny alcove ‘guest room’ here in my flat. She walked down to my dairy, where later we filmed the Winter Boyfriend video, and she sat with me right here on this couch where I am sitting now and helped me alter a t-shirt with orange embroidery floss.
She doesn’t belong here, though, in the same way her belonged on the island, and so it’s easy to not think about it, if I don’t want to, for a while. (We did go to Fidel’s, we did go to the Hop Garden. We did go—didn’t we?—to the Botanical Gardens, on the cable car). I’ve been able to go about my days without being reminded of her at every turn. I’ve been able to come home, and I’ve been able to say, finally: I will stay home.
I’m home, but where is she? I can’t find her. It hurts if I think about her and hurts worse if I don’t, so what am I supposed to do? How am I supposed to talk to her? How are we supposed to, for lack of a better phrase, stay in touch?
One of the boxes I used to pack up my books to put in storage while I was away obviously had come from her at some point—there was a Customs label on it from 2010. It was so strange to see her handwriting and to think that in 2010 she was sending me packages, that she was writing on a cardboard box and taking it to the post office and all those ordinary things. I cut out the bit with her return address on it but I haven’t decided what to do with it. It’s on the bookshelf at the moment, imprinted with her name, the weight of her hand as she pressed down on the pen.
And today I was going through the contacts on my old phone because they refused to import to the new, and her cell number was still there. I don’t know why I didn’t delete it back in April or something. I am so stupid sometimes: I texted her, even though her number’s been disconnected and the old phone doesn’t work anymore anyway. “I miss you so much,” I tapped out—because I do, I do–and the phone replied, “Service interrupted…will continue sending until message is sent.”