Stitched In Time

Today we went walking in my old neighbourhood. A ritual sometimes partaken in to remember the life that was lived there and imagine the lives that could have been lived had we remained. And somewhere among the vigils; cafes and bars and parks and places to stop and pick up wine, I was surprised to discover a feeling of nostalgia.

There’s a macabre ennui in feeling nostalgia for a city that you still feel like a stranger in. It’s the same feeling I’m struck by when I see these two photos of myself side by side — taken two years apart on the same day. Two photos of the same person and two entirely different people at the same time. A life I lived not that long ago and at the same time; a lifetime ago.

Someone recently told me that moving is one of the most traumatic experiences a person can live through. I’d like to think that if someone had told me that in 2019 I would have thought twice. But the truth is, nobody could have reasoned with 28-year old me. I guess it makes sense, though. I also read once that when you go through a traumatic event, a part of you is seared into that place in time forever. That’s exactly how I’d describe this sensation. Like part of me is still back home. A ghost retracing the steps of a life once lived — coffee from the same place where they know my name and order; Sundays in the same park trying not to get sunburnt; Thursday nights at the same bar for the same drag show every week. And by some cruel joke, none of those places exist anymore — the café is now a jewellery store (it didn’t survive the pandemic); my friends hang out at a different park now that’s more convenient for everyone; the regular bar on Thursdays became gentrified and lost its edge. Now everyone goes to the pub that I was dumped at four years ago.

Meanwhile, present day me walks around old neighbourhoods and longs to go back to a time that will never exist again. Then, suspended somewhere between the two there’s the real me. Spliced in half — living in two different places, existing in two different time zones. Violently oscillating between dimensions. One minute wanting to lay down roots, commit to the present, invest in the future. And the next, being entirely on the verge of putting it all in boxes and sending it back home, to return to something familiar and comfortable but no longer exists.

I guess that’s why they call it homesickness — it’s an illness. So what is the treatment? Well, that’s another truth about trauma, they don’t tell you. The only way to make peace with it, is to move through it. To somehow find your way back to that place where that part of you is fixed in time. To stitch it back on and hope the thread dissolves and the scar fades and you feel whole again. To return to yourself, but only in time.

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Thomas Quirk

Thomas Quirk

Queer writer, thinker & entertainment producer. Writer & Audio Producer of My Dad Stole My Limelight — a podcast about coming out!