I live in another country, half a world distant from you, my jungle shores, your Midwest corn or Southern heat or European je-ne-sais-quoi. We have spoken often yet, frequently, we’ve never met. I’ve read the writings that let me into your mind, stories all the richer for knowing the person who wove them.
Shall I tell you how it is to visit those long known thusly?
There is the clash and hubbub of arrival, a bus terminal or airport maybe, a first formal meeting. We keep distance carefully. We are familiar, but how will this work in person?
In the first days we discover mannerisms and personality that could never transmit digitally. We laugh, nervous to begin with, then more easily. We play games, and walk, cook and eat shared meals, shop and dine a little. This, then, is your life—with me strangely in it for a little while.
The corn is your ocean, swaying in the wind, rippling over gentle hills in long waves. Oh, land—beautiful, but not my own. Straight roads and flat places and signs in mileage and odd-to-me driving rules, peculiar naming words, everything custom order, and many other things I’ve never experienced before. I pack it all into my head. I’ll write about it later.
Shall I tell you how it is to leave?
Sadness crests like a tsunami just out of sight. One more departure. One more teardrop gem for my collection of ephemeral jewellery. I won’t really be gone, not with all the connecting we do almost every single day. We’ll talk richer now for having breathed the same air awhile.
~ Grace Bridges, currently trekking around the USA, but also quite keen to get home to New Zealand in a couple of weeks!