Growing apart

You’ve arranged to stay with a life-long pal you haven’t seen for ages and ages. You know the sort of thing: it all starts really well with the inevitable “Gosh! You haven’t changed a bit! I’d have recognised you anywhere!” You are delighted to find they still have the same mannerisms, the same voice, the same dodgy jokes and even the same dodgy dress sense. You swap reminiscences and stories, both of you now a little unsure of the precise details, but it’s fun all the same and restores that old sense of closeness – for a while.  You enquire about what they’ve been up to since you last met. But you soon notice how often they answer these queries with a weary ‘Yeah, still doing that…’ or ‘No, no real plans…’. You become aware of a growing conflict between your sense of reassurance that so little has changed and your disappointment that so much hasn’t changed. You find that they have lost touch with various mutual friends, who, like you, have moved on; that they don’t go anywhere much, that their world is shrinking. You are shocked by how narrow-minded and reactionary your dear old friend seems to have become; how angry and even aggressive. And you are saddened by the way that they seem trapped in the past, and prefer to spend more time looking backwards not forwards – but are even more saddened – infuriated, in fact – by their unwillingness, if not inability to see this. Finally, you reluctantly have to admit to yourself that you don’t have very much in common at all these days; that you have grown apart.

This is very much how it has felt to be back in UK having spent a week or so travelling about the country seeing family and friends in Hampshire, Nottinghamshire, Herefordshire and Devon on our first visit after nigh on a year in Italy. Unsurprisingly the place feels far more familiar than anywhere else we have stopped on our trip. But at the same time, our native country now also feels oddly foreign, alien – and decidedly not like ‘home’. No, home definitely now lies 1200 miles south in the hills of Le Marche, in that magical spot between the majestic Sibillini Mountains and the sparkling Adriatic Sea whose soothing, warm embrace we cannot wait to return to…

Image courtesy of travelandleisure.com

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