Well, this time 9 years ago I’d landed in Holland for the first time and encountered the entity I knew as E* otherwise known as Esther van Sluijs. I fought tooth and nail to get there, and having had my flight cancelled the day before I managed to get a coach, leaving at 2am from Wolves to get me to Amsterdam at 20.oo hours a whopping 18 hours later.
And here I sit. Back in Wolves, in a room not unlike the one I gave up to move over there a few months later. It’s been a long few months. Amazon has been hard. 55 hour weeks with 15 or so travel time over the last month has been a killer. Many have fallen by the wayside. There are probably 10% of the people who started with me still there, and 20% perhaps of all of who started during the ensuing weeks.
Add to that, a “friends” cull. In the first 5 weeks of having moved into my bedsit, not one person from who I knew in Crewe or Leiden bothered to ask “How are you?” No messages. No calls. Nothing. (not including nephews and nieces.) I was at my most vulnerable, hugely alone, and in need. Not a thing. So en mass, I removed pretty much everyone. The Leideners went before then in truth. I didn’t count many of them as real friends, more people who I spoke to because I had a language in common with them. None had visited our home, and only one had had us in theirs. Only 2 or 3 had I been out with specifically rather than just encountered in a pub. There was no common ground. No history. But then went the Crewe people. Many of whom I’ve known years. Some of which I’d loved and lost, some of whom I’d have been there for without thinking twice.
And so here I sit. 3 days from Xmas knowing that, the last 9 years were a massive waste of my time, and that any bond I had with anyone is now gone. I’m good with the latter, although by god it’s lonely at times, but with the former… I’m having real difficulties. How could I have been so stupid. I want to say “blind” but I wasn’t. Cognative dissonance is probably more accurate. It’s churning me up. I’m not stupid. I’ve never been stupid. Yet, for someone who I commit to, I make myself stupid. I ignore differences in class, in principles, in ideals, because of the pursuit of finding a sense of belonging, or of being wanted. Idiocy of the highest order and this time it’s cost me a quarter of my cognitive, and nearly half of my adult life. And for what? What have I walked away with in terms of positives? A few international city trips and that’s it. I was promised a family, a new start. To be loved and cared for. Instead, I lived a life where the only impact I had on Esther’s world constituted a physical one with my hips. For the rest, I might as well have not been there.
So on this anniversary I sit, knowing I have to be up very soon indeed, and the anger builds again. I’ve never liked Christmas, and I’m aware that first anniversaries of things after a death, which is what this was to all intents and purposes, are always the hardest, but it’s supposed to be about missing someone. Not chastising yourself over your own stupidity. I don’t miss her. And I don’t miss the people I have left behind. What I miss is the person I used to be. The one who isn’t stupid. But I think, slowly but surely he died over the last 9 years. And what’s left…. is probably best in sweet isolation.