Over Easter, Mr A, the boys and I headed back to Perth to visit our family and friends (both Mr A and I are originally from there). I knew, from the outset, it was going to be quite the emotional journey. I haven't been back to Perth since Dad's funeral and I was very anxious about seeing my mum. Driving to see her for the first time, I burst in to tears. I guess I didn't know what to expect but in the end it turned out fine. (However, saying goodbye at the end of our trip was awful. Just awful. But this is how it goes now.)
I also had the strangest dreams there, recalling people I hadn't thought about in years. Many were from my high school days - people I was never actually close to or even friends with. I spent ten nights in Perth tossing and turning, waking and dozing - my mind swirling with memories.
As I always do when I head back, I caught up with the few friends I keep in touch with from high school (the ones I'm actually close to)! It's always easy, relaxed and fun. I love seeing how their lives have moved forward, how much their kids have grown. When I'm there, I always realise just how much I miss their friendship. They know me. Really know me, like only old friends can.
The great thing about having history with people is not only that they know you so well, but you share a past with them. Most of the time, that's a good thing. Sometimes it's not. Some memories from my life in Perth I'd rather forget. Not because they're 'bad' memories, per se, (although there's a few of those too), but recalling them reminds me of how different I was back then. I'm not completely removed from who I was in high school - I still muck around and make jokes and fail to focus for long periods of time on anything that slightly resembles 'work'! - but essentially, I've changed. Matured. Grown.
You see, when I head back, I feel as though I'm revisiting my high school days. I'm not just traveling the width of the country, I'm going back in time.
Like many others I know, I didn't hate high school; in fact, there were parts of it I just loved. I didn't have a particularly bad time there, but I was a kid and I made mistakes and choices I wouldn't make today. When I get together with my friends we reminisce etc, which can be lovely, but also a reminder of the awkward, insecure teenager I was.
It's interesting - I've been discussing this with my dear Perth friend, T, since returning to Sydney, and she said she always saw me as confident and outgoing. To some degree, I think I was those things, but underneath I had many insecurities, like many teenagers do. In fact, it was only after I moved to Sydney that I finally became the confident, independent, happy person I perhaps seemed to be in high school. When I head back to Perth, I feel almost as if the old Jodie returns.
Being away from my mum and my sister, especially, and essentially robbing them of another daughter/sister (it's not even close to being as awful as losing a child to a car accident like my sister, Valda, was, but you know what I'm getting at) is not something that makes me even the slightest bit happy. In fact, there's a lot of guilt, sadness and regret that goes with that at times. But for some reason, living in Sydney really suits me, personally.
My Mum saw the change in me when she visited Sydney for the first time back in 2000 when Mr A and I were married. We were walking around Watson's Bay one sunny, January afternoon and she said, 'Living in Sydney really suits you, Jodie. You seem happier here.'
It's true. I am.
And that can only be a good thing.