Dear Family in Australia,
It’s still pandemic season, but I’m on a holiday. It’s been a year of fear and death and change and challenge and a winter too deep to imagine. Restrictions are lifting and now I’m in Cornwall, right by the sea. Staying in this caravan has reminded me of you all. The 80s style décor has sent me travelling back in time to childhood; to every holiday I ever took with you all; my brother and my cousins; we are many.
There’s something about the detail of it all – towels drying on window ledges; sneakers flopped down by the creaky door; jumpers strewn across bench chairs; boardgames jenga-style piling up on the floor; argumentative scorecards abandoned next to beer glasses; swimmers drying inside a too-small shower cubicle.
It all takes me back to times together, times we would meet in tents, caravans, red brick apartment blocks along coastlines more stunning than we would ever know. When the sun would bake us; when we’d cycle around campgrounds making friends we’d never see again; when we’d capsize boats we couldn’t steer; when we’d stay out late and kiss boys we’d just met; find the nudist beaches to waterbomb from above. When we’d play cards so loudly that the noise can still be heard in space; when our feet were always grubby. We’d play beach cricket French style with plastic cricket bats; give the younger ones “a chance”; body board until it hurt; jump waves all afternoon. When we ate breakfast in bikinis, when we ate lunch in bikinis and when we ate dinner with glowing red shoulders covered in aloe vera, amongst the constant chatter.
When we were always allies.
We’re allies still, I know. But now we’re allies in this distant way; in this Zoom arena, in this Whatsapp land; in a dreamy way as I drink my morning cup of tea and pause before starting work, wonder how you all are doing; really doing; in your hearts. I miss you; my never-ending, boisterous clan.
I have the most lovable ally here with me. We swim in the 9 degree sea and play boardgames and we’re letting our feet be grubby. We haven’t eaten any meals in our bikinis, it’s a bit cold for that, and he looks much better in a wetsuit if I’m honest. But we laugh and swim and cook meals in the one-person-only-galley-kitchen; and somehow this 80s caravan has given me the space to share my pain of missing you with him, properly share it. I’m quite certain if I asked him to eat breakfast in a bikini that he’d consider it; for me. Or maybe we’ll save that for when you get to meet him.
The pandemic still rages across the globe, restrictions tighten and then lift, tighten and then lift again. Our countries oscillate and there is always a part of my heart under government grasp; never a complete exhale; constantly quietly waiting for this to end. The barriers between us are high, expensive, unpredictable. But they, unlike the décor in this caravan, will change. This too shall pass.
When I see you next I expect the loudest card game we’ve ever played.
All the love and all the hugs