|Darby & Joan are the quintessential middle-aged British couple, characterised by knitwear, hours of scrabble, and a penchant for staying in on Saturday nights. Darby and Joan are, in fact, @calummcswiggan and me.|
I knew you’d got the travel bug this summer. But when you messaged me last night with Can’t talk. Will email later. Right now I’m writing from Nebraska dinner table, I freaked the Lady Diana OUT.
I started Googling maps of America, my thought process being:
2. Wow. Nebraska.
3. I can’t believe it. He’s gone to Nebraska.
4. I CAN’T BELIEVE HE’S GONE TO NEBRASKA.
5. I’m so proud! Nebraska!
6. MY BEST FRIEND IS IN NEBRASKA AND HE WANTED AN ADVENTURE AND NOW HE HAS JUST SAID YES TO LIFE AND GONE AND I LOVE IT THIS IS SO AMAZING AND COOL AND WONDERFUL AND ALL THE ADJECTIVES!
7. Urm. Where is Nebraska?
And then a second message came through that said Sorry. I’m writing from BENEATH the dinner table. Bloody auto correct.
But I did. Because you are flying higher than angels right now, with plans and exploits, escapades and voyages, and you deserve it. You should to fly to Nebraska if you want to.
I’m kind of disappointed that you didn’t, actually.
After all that thrilling agitation I kind of missed you- us- and so I decided to go through our archives to read old messages and be nostalgic. Then Facebook told me there were 4,053 pieces of nostalgia so I went to watch The Parade on iPlayer with Mum and Dad instead because really, who has that kind of time?
I didn’t mention that bit, did I? I’m back in England now. And currently living on my parents' sofa.
It’s weird being so close to your old home and knowing that you’re not here. Not here to do pretentious French lunches with. Not here to go to the university library with and pretend like we are writing our dissertations again. Not here to watch X-Factor with and eat too All The Pizza and Pic n Mix and do impressions of Louis Walsh with.
Instead you are finishing up your temporary teaching contract in Italy. Frustratingly, this week you are an hour down the road from where I was teaching for the entire summer. Oh, travelling Gods! How you mock us!
I’m pleased we weren’t so close that you missed the chance to go to Verona to see the opera, though. Last Saturday you emailed to say you were off to Juliet’s House, and that you’d written me a letter. You said it was three pages front and back, done in your fancy pen, and that you had asked her to bring me a man who could love me as much as you do. It seemed to be no coincidence that on a particularly difficult day you were able to do that.
Three hours later you messaged again to say that security guards wouldn’t let you pin it to her house so it had to go in a letterbox instead.
My instinct is to ask exactly what you wrote in that letter. I want words and phrases and thoughts and ideas, because that’s my problem. I want to know everything, always. But I know in my deepest heart that you said everything I would’ve said for myself, and a few things I haven’t thought of yet. I trust you.
You’ve got a bazillion more travel dreams and plans and schedules and I don’t know when you’ll be on British soil BUT the thing that gets me most excited is that when you are, it’ll be MY sofa you sleep on.
You said recently I feel like we are the same person but I am just a little bit behind you. Not in a bad way, but just in a way that you are the future me and I am the past you. Like magic, and fairies and cups and stuff, and I know what you meant.
But I disagree.
What you are doing now inspires me to push for my future dreams. The strength that you have demonstrated to the universe through heartache and upset and not-knowing means that when you write to me I don't know what I'm doing with my life (the sentence uttered most by the both of us this year) I know that in my own non-plans I’ll be okay too. Because I watch you, being here, and there, and loving, and laughing and being so purposeful, so engaged with life, that I’m stronger and more engaged with my own life by proxy.
I have to be. I’m part of a team. And I can’t let the team down.
Happy travelling, lover.