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The One Left Behind

August 14, 2010

M left for home today.

You might not know M, but she has been living with me for the last couple of weeks. This was the final cap of our short relationship, which only lasted a couple of months, and wasn’t really a “real” relationship anyway. But even so, when living with someone, especially as a student and during the school holidays, being with that person all but 24/7 tends to make that person’s sudden absence pretty tangible.

When I think about it, up until now, in all the relationships I can remember (and therefore all the ones who count) which involved one of us moving away before we were sick of each other, the one leaving was always me. I have been constantly on the move, and the excitement of what was coming up next was always a decent anaesthetic for whatever pain was associated with losing the person who has at some point over the last little while become your other half. At the very least, it gave something else to focus on.

This time, however, might be the first time I’ve been on the other end – the end which comes back home through the empty streets to the empty room for two, complete with a gap exactly the size and shape of the belongings of another person. What does remain, are the things discarded last-minute because they didn’t fit in bags, the little bits of rubbish put to one side and forgotten, the half-drunk bottles of tea, and of course the extra toothbrush and pair of slippers. All signs that until very recently, another person lived here. These things were a part of somebody’s life, but now suddenly have no home, serve no purpose.

Coming back to a space which has become associated with the sight, sound and smell of another person, and having those scenes echo in a hard, silent empty space where they will never again replay themselves, is actually something, very sad.

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