For a loner I sure love company. When I was 6 or 7 I would get so excited about my family’s summer visits to Lahore where my favourite cousins were. Once there, my sisters and I would lose track of everything. My mom had to track us down to feed us and force us to use the toilet. Bodily functions didn’t occur to us otherwise. I remember waking up on the first morning in my grand-parents’ house. My parents were still sleeping and a little boy my age was standing in our room looking at us. He had jet black hair and round eyes and I didn’t recognize him immediately. Excited nonetheless, I got up to see who it was. He saw that he’d been spotted and slipped out and I followed. And that was the last I remember of my parents on that trip.
When we came back home to Karachi, I was a sad little girl. I would cry at school if anybody talked to me. I cried when I tried to talk to the teacher or the kids. My mother didn’t understand why such a big girl cried all the time and why I seemed so unconfident. I was embarassed by it all so I tried not to speak to anyone. I eventually got used to the new routine of being back at school and not on vacation and went back to being myself. I don’t remember if I told anyone what the problem was or whether I even knew myself. I had a hard time describing that sadness.
When another summer many years later ended and the hordes of guests at our house went home, I drew up a strict plan of daily activities to occupy myself. Those days a different set of cousins had been my best friends and our days all meshed together into a happy blur. We lived and breathed together and even at night, we all slept on mattresses in the living room. Sometimes we fought together. The day after they left, I started off with taking a run around the neighborhood in the morning followed by other very important activities. They were abandoned in time as I started enjoying life again and didn’t feel the need to regiment it. The only emotion I betrayed was when I was talking to my Dad who’d gone to Pakistan with them for a little while. I started crying for no apparent reason and couldn’t describe the loneliness I felt or even admit to it. Unable also to continue talking, I gave the phone back to my Mom and slipped away. No point in making a spectacle of myself.
Now I brace myself again for my life to slow down. The vacation back in Geneva is ending. I don’t have work to go back to at this point. My sister left for Zurich today, back to work and I know she was making to-do lists in her head. Back to a busy life for everyone but me. Here it felt full, going out for lunches, dinners, to see friends and movies, hang out with family, consulting work from home, clean up, work on decorating the house, cook, annoy my sisters, catch up w/ old friends…Back home in CT, I’ll have almost none of that. Barely any friends to see, no nice downtown to meet up in, no big house to sort out, no social calendar to look forward to. OK I exaggerate, I have people to see but no one as fun and familiar. No one I couldn’t live without. I’ll go to the gym alone, try to do my work alone and when it’s evening and HD is at work, I’ll have no one to call as my friends will all be asleep in another time zone. I’ll call HD every few hours when he’s at work and thank God for his patience with clingy me. It’ll just be me and HD, cooking for ourselves, running our endless errands and trying to work a way out of that town.