After the sleep deprived movie marathon otherwise known as the Accra-Sydney flight connection, we are home. Home home we call it. The place you slip into like an old pair of socks. Comfortable, familiar and easy.
It’s an old, tired joke that nothing changes in Newcastle, (but of course it does, albeit slowly). But that, when you have been away, is the charm.
And while we’ve slipped back into our old lives, there are the little differences which remind you that you have indeed been away. We had dinner with some gorgeous friends, not before driving to their old house, wondering why the house looked locked up and empty. Which it was. We howled with laughter when Lill reminded us that they had moved house. Back into the car, and driving through dark streets trying to remember where their new place was. We’ve been updated on new cafes and school gossip and new jobs (and new houses!). We’ve been so spoilt with beautiful food. Friends making us feasts of lamb, and good cheese, fresh salmon and rhubarb crumble. Everyone making such an effort to treat us with foods we cannot get in Ghana.
We’ve wandered the shops and enjoyed new Lego, new shoes and (oh joy!) new underwear. We’ve sat in cafes and drunk far too much coffee and soaked up the winter weather. (It’s cold!). And in true Groundhog day style, we’ve walked our old dogs around the beaches and parks, accompanied by a gaggle of kids.
But the best part of all, despite whatever changes, large and small, which have happened in our friends lives, we’ve slipped back into the groove of friendships. For the children, the initial awkward hello is quickly replaced in the younger ones by running off down the hall together. I stare with unblinking pride at our eldest as she walks, straight backed and tall, chatting with her friends. A vision of the young women they will soon become. And I’ve loved meeting new much anticipated and much loved babies.
But after the catching up on the news of the past year, from the updates of our children’s lives and holiday plans and home renovations, the conversation passes into the more profound stuff of life.
The conversations and commiserations about how we are choosing to navigate our lives. The disappointments, the successes, the uncertainties of career changes, the confidences boosts, the ageing bodies and the growing realization that things rarely go exactly to plan. And no matter where we are choosing to live our lives, how different our immediate environments, how many kilometres separate us, or whether it’s shopping malls or potholes roads, the fundamentals of our lives are the same.
We are all learning the lessons of life. But the learning is so much easier when in the company of old friends.