Reading this post earlier in the week* transported me back to the time when I returned home after a term at university. Long ago. Before the time of constant contact enabled by technology like the my smartphone, which is never more than a few feet away from me, and social media which is my continual companion.
Then, leaving home meant lining up at the pay phone with spare change to call home once or twice a week. Outside in the cold of Toowoomba, standing in a queue with the other first years, wondering what the heck we had got ourselves into. Thinking on it now, it’s a miracle I survived. I was neither particularly independent, intrepid or ready for the world.
Naive would be perhaps be a kind description. Homesick could have been another.
But adjust I did and quickly. That first year away, studying music was one of discovery – of Brahms’ symphonies, new violin concertos, piano repertoire, REM, Nirvana, Triple J with Helen and Mikey (when it was good), hyper colour t-shirts (never owned one), Levis, making new friends and starting on the journey to being an adult.
It was a puzzling jolt to come home and catch up with school friends who I used to spend every day with and realise that we no longer had anything in common.
Scene: the Bundaberg Pizza Hut Restaurant in 1991, with my peers. (Yes it existed and yes it did have the “salad bar” with the bacon bits).
“What was the best thing about uni and living on campus?”
“It’s great how I don’t have to eat pumpkin if I don’t want to”.
I’ll just clarify this was not my answer but it was significant.
Our paths had diverged.
Pumpkin Schumpkin. I could care less. I wanted to know about other stuff.
What about the learning? What do you think about the world? What makes you laugh, cry, get angry or have some other kind of emotional response to the universe now? What films have you seen, books read, new music found and heard, TV discovered? These were the conversations I’d been having at uni. My school friends were also at uni. Why were we talking about pumpkin?
I remember nothing else about the great 1991 Pizza Hut get together. Not even the pizza. It didn’t happen again. Perhaps she eats pumpkin now, perhaps she doesn’t. And the Pizza Hut Restaurant is now Officeworks.
At the end of 1991 I was home for the holidays. I was uptown Christmas shopping and for the first time ever I heard Here Comes the Sun playing over the muzak. It shimmered.
So we continue to return home. We’re not who we were. Home still welcomes us. And points of resonance emerge in unlikely places.
That Christmas in 1991 I received the Abbey Road CD.
I hadn’t asked for it.
The timeless, shining song became home.