During my youth growing up in the country I moved from house to house, not staying in one for much more than two years until we moved into town and eventually ended up where my parents reside still. Being a country boy in town did not fit in well with the other students, and it was hard to secure any true friendships. Though, my brother and sister didn't (seem to) have the same problem. When genuine friendships manifested, somewhere down the line they fell apart.
This has been the continuing pattern of my adult life as I have travelled from city to city, house to house, flatmate to flatmate, friend to friend. I knew though I could always go home to the same family who I grew up with and have continuously provided financial and emotional support when needed - that has been the only constant as I have moved in and out of depression, suicidal thoughts, loneliness; abandonment by people whose lives I thought I was a wanted part of.
I look at my brother and sister and can still see friends that they have kept either from school, or their first lot of flatting experiences - those people outside of family have always been there as part of their travels, through the good times and the bad. I simply have no idea what that must be like. Loss of friends has collapsed any sort of solid ground that I may have stood on at the time and sent me plummeting into deeper depression. Years go by and all I see are faces I once knew...
In 2014 I entered into a relationship that was formed through a mutual activity and developed with us living together across the Summer of 2014/15. The month and a half that we spent together was the most stabilising experience I've ever had. While I was living in her house, sharing in some food costs, I asked nothing of her and she gave me more than I could have ... expected. If I had bothered expecting anything, that is. For once I felt like I had a place to reside where the person I lived with accepted me as I was and wanted to know about me, not just whether or not I had a job yet... As we shared our views, our thoughts on the world, her interest in my novels and music, I felt a sense of contentment that I'd never felt before, confidence in myself, confidence in my partner, a mutual respect that lifted me away from any feelings of self-pity, paranoia, or mental instability that questions what is happening and sets confusion up as a road block that I can't help crashing out of control through as thoughts tumble into panic mode. A part of me felt at home.
It's crazy that I'd let that go. She certainly thought so.
My greatest fear is that I will never experience that kind of stability ever again, that feeling of looking out a window and not thinking about what tomorrow will bring, the sense of being loved by someone who I expected nothing from. It's a fear of being alone. The kind of loneliness that family can't fill.
When I said goodbye, I felt strength. I had been given a great gift that I was letting go of to chase a dream. But I was also letting go because I couldn't love her the way she loved me, and I hated the thought of eventually putting her in the same position that she had been in for the last 15 or so years with her ex - that of not being loved and made to feel like an accessory of sorts. She had risked so much to be with me, the least I could do is leave her with happiness and her own strength still intact rather than disappointment or hurt.
So I moved on. Into my new flat. Into my job. More students to teach, more faces to remember. And then I moved on. Onwards down the country side. Into my new flat. An old dream to pursue. And then I moved on. Into my new flat. An old dream to kill.
I don't see new faces any more. I just see faces I remember. And then I have to try to remember where I remember them from. Over the last two weeks I saw someone twice that was so familiar that I spent the next day trawling through my memories trying to figure out where I knew them from, or even if I did know them at all. After going through teenage memories of neighbours, class mates at school, all the odd jobs I went through in Invercargill, schools I later taught in across New Zealand, I finally realised that the person I recognised was someone I had spoken to at the laundromat prior to moving out of my orchard accommodation (there were massive suspicions of someone in Invercargill following me here...). But the familiarity of the face, not just in terms of it being so close in time (a month or so prior), stretched back into my distant past, which is why I felt the need to go so far back to try to locate it.
I wonder if people who stay in the same place most of their lives still see new faces.