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Back from break, and not just me. The house, so empty, now filling and yet no conversation is ever as good as the one you formulate beforehand. Today at church Tara was asking me the not-so-uncommon question: do you miss France yet? To which I replied, oh, I don’t know, I guess sometimes. But that is merely the way of things. We miss what is not right in front of us, the part of us that is somewhere else.

I missed everyone when no one was around, but once everyone came back, to tell them so would be a little akward. So I just assume they know. Hey, you’re cool, housemates, dear, but don’t take that too personally.

What is it I miss exactly? I can’t say I miss one person, ever, because it’s always more than that. You miss the seasons you never saw clearly enough. You miss the almost calous innocence of 18, first school, first time away, friends in the food court. You miss the thrill of discovery: “endoplasmic reticulum” has a meaning and I know what it is! (I’ve forgotten by now) You miss the long hours frittered away watching movies with friends, Kari in the lighthouse making tea and giving advice (“go abroad” “boys are evil” “rrrrr, this is how you say it”). Meg in France and her earnest cycling in the rain with a baguette under her arm, the boulevard des pyrenees and the mountains so sharp you could cut yourself on them. Home, you miss home… wherever home is. Buffy and Sara singing off-key in Taiwan, dancing in the hot rain of the monsoon. Is that home? Hannah and Michelle, Hannah and J. Grif: “Hi, my name’s Jonathan, what’s your bride price?” the lighthouse again. First street. Bonners in the summer, Canada, the lake, sunburn. Kari’s in Japan, Meg’s living somewhere, Buffy’s married, Sara I haven’t seen in ages, Hannah, Michelle and J. Grif are gone. C’est la vie. Where to go now. The drums have silenced. Back to France, then, to listen for a year and find other things to miss. “Il a arrive quelque chose d’incroyable,” spoken with an intake of breath. Something to miss. Seeing people’s faces fill with wonder, that’s always something to miss. Seeing people as you wish they were. You miss strange moments, like that woman, sitting in wheelchair outside the Co. Kerry grocery, whom I overheard say “I’m just saving the parking space for my daughter.”

We’re always missing something. Wounded, as if we’d forgotten our arm somewhere. But why? This is what we have: THIS. One thousand one one thousand two. Time. Not much, but enough: enough to give away. And restless-content we look for ways, in the fridge, in our e-mail, on the sidewalk; routine becoming time becoming routine. If we could only be content — and not in the way we use contentment, as an excuse not to do something because it’s hard or painful.

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