The weekend was full of the old and new. It was a house party at a well-loved place that has reshuffled its inhabitants twice since I left. It was familiar routes driven in brand new cars, these shiny things a sign of everyone trading up, moving on, growing up. It was a long conversation with a friend whose marriage came to an end while I was away. It was coffee with an old friend who fell pregnant with and gave birth to a little baby girl while I was away. It was a weekend where the concept if ‘time’ came up a lot.

 

Something happens to time, or your ability to process it, when you leave for a little while and return. Lying in bed and thinking about what was, or sitting down with friends and filling each other in on the time you have been apart, that period within which you – or they – were away feels like a collapsible bubble, packed full of colour and impossible adventure. It feels as if you fell through a door into a parallel universe and all of these things happened, all of this time passed, crammed so full you almost feel like when you find that door again and push it open, everyone on the other side will have reported you missing, assumed you’d run off for the rest of your life. Or at least have just gone home.

 

And when you find the door again, push it open and step outside, back into the world from whence you came, a funny thing happens. You find yourself back in the cafe with your old friends, talking for all the world as if nothing has happened, as if you didn’t just disappear down a rabbit hole, into a world of fawns and white witches, for what felt like forever. Indeed, the only clue a whole other world took place parallel to this one, a whole other life, is a baby on someone’s lap and an email in another language from someone professing to love you.