Sat on yet another train to London I've been musing the 'moving foward'ness of life and how we rarely match up to our own expectations.
I'm heading to see a friend before she goes off on the classic 'Asia/Australia tour' for several months and it strikes me as odd that my first thought on hearing her plans were "isn't she a bit old for that?" The fact is that at 26 no she's not 'too old' but yet my mind connects such travels to a 21/22 year old; maybe that's just the stereotype coming to the forefront of my mind. I suppose I see what she is doing at the 'gap yah' type experience whereas (in my mind) in your mid to late twenties people start moving into the more 'adult' trips that are more about doing something specific than endless nights of partying with cheap alcohol and people you just met in the backpackers hostel.
But then that's probably my prejudices coming through. Or maybe even my jealousy.
I would love to be able to see through some of the trips I've plotted out for my future but I know that kind of luxury is a long way off for me still, just getting to the end of the month with a tiny amount of paycheck left after all the bills have gone out is a small miracle these days!
It's a strange thing though, to be specifically going to say goodbye to someone that you don't know when you'll see again.
Normally in life we don't get much notice of when will be the 'last time' we see someone, for a while or forever. Now I fully expect her to come back absolutely fine next year at some point, but the fact remains that it's a bizarre situation and not one I've dealt with well in the past.
When my brother went to Australia for a year in 2012 it was one of the hardest emotional trials I have ever been through. This wasn't just an "adios amigo" but my little brother, the most important person in my whole life and the embodiment of "Pietro è la pietra" - he truly is my rock and always has been the one to keep me grounded with his unwavering support. So saying goodbye to him for a whole year was tough. It wasn't like when I went to university - I knew I'd see him again in a few months maximum and we ended up talking on the phone regularly (more so once he left for university and would get bored walking places!) This was the other side of the world and 10 time zones away. No more quick visits to see him or 2 hour chats discussing doping in sport or whatever topic had wound one of us up recently! We did manage to get a fair few conversations in over the 51 weeks he was away but they were scattered, often at odd times as we tried to make the time difference work in a way that didn't involve either of us loosing sleep. (There were still quite a few Saturday 8am phone calls that I could have killed him for!)
Essentially the hardest part for me was loosing the knowledge/control of the communication and interaction. I had enormous jealousy of my mum who went to visit him and my dad, stepmum and sister who visited and then travelled home with him.
I guess this scenario will be very different as ours is a friendship that exists in ocassional meet ups and is rooted in university shared experiences.
But still, I can't help wondering about the nature of being 'too old' or doing things at the 'right age'. At nearly thirty I'm struggling with the fact that I don't own my home nor do I have a husband/kids waiting in the wings. I don't even have the career I want yet.
But, as some wonderfully wise people often remind me, concentrate on what you do have/can do not what you don't.
So, I'm off to enjoy times with brilliant friends in a great city I love knowing that I'll have some great Olympic sport to watch tonight!
And if all else fails it's not long til the Rugby season kicks off again!!