One of the things I missed the most when I was travelling overseas was the sense of connection that I felt to my place and its people. The longer I was away from home, the more dislocated I felt. I wasn’t doing the usual OE and so didn’t go somewhere like London and simply make a new place. Instead I was travelling around a lot. Always a new city, new landmarks, new people.
Eventually I landed in Temecula, California and stayed put for three months. Because I had been yearning for familiarity, I made connections quickly. I got to know all the checkout ladies at the local supermarket, the bus driver knew me by name. The coffeemakers at Starbucks missed me if they didn’t see me every day. Even the maintenance guy at the apartment complex would stop and chat with me most days.
I was reminded of this feeling of dislocation (and the contrasting sense of home) last night at dinner, and again this morning.
Last night Stephen and I went to Tulsi for dinner. We haven’t been there for ages, but we used to go all the time. We wandered in and the Maitre d’ greeted us warmly. He gave us a cosy booth and turned the heater on for me. Then he asked if I’d like my usual…”chicken tikka and a plain naan?”. It was so lovely to be remembered. When I paid the bill, he asked if we had moved out of town, and I had to break the news that no, we had in fact been visiting other establishments. Awkward moment.
This morning, I popped in to C1 for a morning tea muffin. Obviously I’ve done this more times than I am aware of, because the woman behind the counter greeted me with, “Hi, vegan muffin to go?”. It felt good to be familiar.