A world grown strange

Long ago (or what feels like it), I had written about how blogs are like neighbourhoods.  Well, Dorothy, this old hangout sure feels different.

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It feels strange to be back.

A looksee around this pad of mine, tracing the outlines of what was once a second home. The accumulations of a wandering mind, all so immediately familiar, yet subtly alien, as if a twin had evolved it. Sudden hesitations mark what I seem to remember performing unthinkingly, demanding a closer look, demanding me to wonder what made me choose them.  There's a slight frigidity about the place, a pseudo-life that was created and abandoned, vaguely aware of wanting to be angry at its maker yet failing to truly be able to do anything because it never really was.

I contemplate apologising, but I wonder who it is that wants to apologise, and to whom.  Some vortexes keep on sucking.

A rush outside, away away from this uncertainty.  To solidity, to the areas based on strong foundations and with long-term tenants.  To the places of known shelter and amusement and serenity and wonder. To my block.

But it isn't anymore.  Not all of it.

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I notice the forlorn silences of some parts, and laugh at my naivety that nobody else would go wandering. I delve a little into these empty expanses, learning histories through recent markers, trying to fill in the gaps when there are none. So many unknowns, so many aching questions.

I wonder, did all of us expect the others to be our constants? Did the rest too expect the party to keep going, hoping to slide back into their favourite seat to the tune of a friendly wave, hoping that nobody else would want to explore? Did the others also sometimes return quietly like this, watching the slow desolation, shuffling off in quiet regret, asking the same questions?

I almost feel that I can feel their after-presence, and I try to reach past these sealed doors to discover the imprints they left behind, hoping to understand more.  There is no way in, or back. I wonder where they are, who they are. I wonder why I almost never wondered about this before. I wonder if they don't either.

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I stare at some addresses, certain I used to visit them often, but no longer able to recognise them properly.  The nameplates mock me and the ego of my memory-boasts, but even their scorn can barely highlight a path through this fog.

The funny teenager merges into the roving foodie who overshadows the larking musician who ask me how I could so truly forget this all and whether I was really fully there when I was here and what does that say about who I was and am and why I should expect renewed invitations.  Do you really not remember that time, that joke, that conversation... I stand silent, confounded, searching frantically within for the person who could so easily unremember, running so fast you would think I hoped never to find that one.  I contemplate super-imposed brain scans under a green light, but I know the answer is easier to find.  As is the path back.

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I pause sometimes before houses I never really knew, dwellings of friends of friends and complete strangers who were always described as interesting, whose overheard conversations and inner jokes sometimes touched me by, who I said I would one day find out about, but never truly did.

I try to imagine the stories I never heard, the connections I missed, the inner worlds I never discovered. I try to convince myself of the old excuses of time and identity, and realise I have no one to fool but myself. And I know that's something I won't let myself do again. I move on for now, promising to at least think of cadging an introduction and exploring these avenues. All the while knowing there will always be too much, and too little time.

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And all the while, I remain aware of the rooms still tenanted and pass quietly under the cautious gazes.

I notice some of the changes in the furnishings in them, notice how some show signs of new interests and lost interests.  I wondering if I'm only imagining the hurt aloofness and in the lively laughter, a promise that these conversations have decided to pass me by.  I try to reach out, to answer, to speak.  I try to think of reasons that would evoke acceptance and forgiveness and welcome, that would cut off discussions on friendships and trust and prodigality. I try, but know I won't be able to, knowing that I haven't been able to in all my absence. What can you say to those who were your own? There is nothing to say. There is so much to say.

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I finish my tour and here I finally stand, in the middle of this neighbourhood.  I mark the empty meeting spots. The quietly-carrying-on bookshop. The diner that no longer worries about creations, but offers filling nutrition. The children's play area that's come up.  The houses that are now just yearly retreats for those who have gone on to more successful things.  The new couples walking along. The broken hearts mending, some new, some a-new. The lenses capturing these images. The pens putting all of this to poetry.

I hover, uncertain of the next move.  I think of making my rounds, knocking on the doors, seeing who'll have me back. But I know that would be too false, too eager, too not-me. I think of calling up the few ever-dependables and asking them to spread the word, but I was never the life of the party that everyone flocked to come, just the one to the off-centre, shouting out the occasional funny line.

I decide instead to stay out here for a while, on my old seat.  There's so much reading to catch up on.  There's so many names and introductions and chats and bad puns to remember.  I'll put out some tea and baked goodies, hoping it won't seem like too much of a bribe, knowing that they will know it is.

I wonder who will notice, who will come.  I wonder if it will be enough for them to simply hear that that this time I don't plan to go away.  I wonder where this will go.  There's so much to learn again, so much to see, so many procedures and names and links to learn.  So many discussions to be had, so many stories to tell. So much of so much of so many worlds.  All in time.

For now, it's time to reclaim my spot.