It was one of those conversations where you are not even sure if the person is talking to you or themselves. There were moments when he looked straight into my eyes but for the most part he looked at his hands, the wall behind me or the table. In those moments I watched his face closely and felt my heart start to break for him. His was not a unique story. Sure the details were all his but the emotions all too human. This was a story that I have heard in different lengths and styles from my colleagues as they struggle to balance their family lives and the demands of our work. More and more these conversations end with the person looking at me and smiling before they say “you are lucky you are single, you don’t have to worry about this.”
They’re right of course. I am single and I don’t have to worry about a husband or kids but I do still have a family and a life that is not work related. And despite my absolute love for my job and the work I get to do I am acutely aware of what I am missing.
I hate talking about this stuff because I don’t want anyone to ever think that I am complaining and certainly don’t want to start feeling sorry for myself because I genuinely believe my life is blessed. This is one of those times though when I am alone in a hotel room, the distraction of work Skype chats and emails is fading, I’ve done the standard equipment check and recharging of all the necessary technologies and all I have left now is thoughts of the little things I miss.
I’m not sure if it is my age but when I used to live overseas (several years ago) I missed Tim Tams (the world’s best chocolate biscuit/cookie) and Vegemite. Now I miss celebrating birthdays and anniversaries, encouraging friends as they start their own businesses and supporting them as they go through chemotherapy. I miss laughing at inane things until we cry. I miss the days of lengthy phone conversations and not having to celebrate the birth of my sister’s first child over text. Or commiserate the death of my uncle in the same way.
But I am lucky. I have friends all over the world. On this trip I was able to stay at my friend’s for a few nights. This for me is the greatest luxury as I hate hotels and being alone. Sure, sleeping on a couch isn’t as much fun as it was in my 20’s but when news of my uncle came through she was there with a hug and a cup of tea. And when news of the birth of my gorgeous (no I am not biased he really is gorgeous) nephew came we could celebrate with a wine. When I was sick with a cold, cos UK summer is colder than Australian winter , she turned on the heating and made me eat vegetables. And best of all, she has introduced me to the amazing cooking skills of her flat mate, or as I like to call him my UK house husband. I might have moments of feeling lonely and disconnected when I am travelling for work, tired from my incurable state of over commitment, but they are fleeting and I do know that I am never really ever that far away from a friendly hug.