I’m in Japan at the minute, in a hotel 200 yards from where I used to live. A year ago, this place felt like home to me: the streets around me, the cafes and restaurants, the light and the sounds and the smell of the air. Now, it feels empty.
I don’t know if this is just me – I’ve always been a big sucker for nostalgia so perhaps it’s just me. But being back here makes me realise just how much this place, ANY place is tied in with the people around you.
Tonight I’ve walked past the place where my son fell off his scooter and scraped his knee; the shop where my mum came and bought all that crap (er… I mean, souvenir craft supplies?); the place where I looked at my wife on our anniversary, beautiful pregnant and smiling, and I stopped for a photo.
This city is full of of nostalgia for me, of a million small moments that made me love being here. But since my family left I find myself drifting round the same streets with a completely different feeling – an emptiness, a numbness that I didn’t expect.
I once saw a dead person – it was a grandparent at their funeral – and whilst this may sound weird, it feels kind of the same: something that LOOKS like the thing that you loved, but for some inexplicable reason is not them. A shell that looks like them but no more.
I think there are two reasons for the way i am feeling: 1) I’ve had way too much to drink (which I have) or 2) it’s not the place but the PEOPLE that made me love being here.
I can’t think of a moment I lived here that isn’t intertwined with the kids’ laughter, or dinner with friends, or my wife’s hand in mine.
What i want to say is that being here makes me aware of how much my wife and kids were the SOUL of my time in this place. Through their bickering (kids) and grumbling (wife) and their smiles and their voices they made this place come to life.
Making me think that makes me realise some things, and I wanted to say: to all of my readers who are friends and family – you are the people who made my life good (whether it’s school or university or my past workplaces, wherever I was) so thank you. To anyone else: just bear in mind the people around you are the key to your happiness. Treat them well.
Anyway, I’m tired now. I’m going to*
*At this point I must have fallen asleep. When I woke up this morning, the above post was on the screen, and my laptop was still on my chest (where it had heated up to about a thousand degrees).
As you can see I’m a nostalgic and melancholy drunk sometimes. But ‘drunk Doug’ clearly thought this stuff was important last night, and as he wrote it I think the least I can do is just hit ‘Publish’.