(Photo from my Birthday/Bye Bye meal on Saturday 28th July)

On July 30th, I turned 30 – we celebrated with a few tip runs and a quick visit to my mum’s for hugs and a round of cheese and crackers. We tided and painted over messy handprints and took down Dylan’s wall decorations. And after that, we spent until the early hours talking with our next door neighbors who are genuinely two of the kindest people I’ve ever known. It was exactly how I wanted it. The girls had been at my Mum’s house since the Wednesday before whilst we got our house ready for the final inspection and gave away/got rid of our last bits and pieces. However wonderful it was for us to be able to just get on, I know that my Mum had an internal countdown clock ringing in at the end of each day – she idolises them and although she has been our biggest supporter of us going on this adventure, as the days were ringing down she was able to talk to me less and less. Maybe it’s a Bickley thing, or maybe it’s just us but if you’re feeling emotional and close to tears, the worst thing someone can do is be kind to you. It’s almost a green light, to fall apart so as the adventure approached, our contact became quite minimal. Although we had our cheese and crackers, a staple of our relationship and spoke in glances which were about all that either one of us could muster.

On Tuesday, our friend Rhys came round to help us with the final bits. Rhys is a friend who will always turn up for you, he’s fiercely loyal and will be your biggest champion whenever you need it and we needed it. He brought donuts and adopted our pet fish and filled the car up multiple times to take things to their new homes. We had seen him on Saturday and pushed back our goodbye until now – I had tried to do this with as many people as I possibly could, staggering them so it was less of a steam train and more like someone giving you a dead leg you already knew was coming.  Goodbyes are always difficult but made a little easier when you know people are pursuing something they are excited about, right? Nope, just difficult.

My hardest was yet to come and I’ve written about my Mum before but I think I fooled myself a little into thinking I’d be totally fine. Of course, I’ll be fine! It’s an adventure it’s exciting! How exciting – we’re moving to the other side of the world! And although that is true, it’s massively exciting. It doesn’t take away from the fact that Mum and I are entwined. It’s incredible being so close, at times extremely problematic but of course, this wasn’t going to be an easy goodbye and I was a little annoyed at myself for thinking I could get away with that.

We packed our suitcases to the brim – 30kg in each bag – 3 of them (I KNOW THIS IS LOADS! I will explain later) and arrived at my Mum’s ready to pick up the girls and for my Mum and brother to drive us to the airport hotel. As we approached the airport my Mum took a wrong turn and mounted a car park central reservation in what I think was a last minute change of heart, a little bump which meant we would just HAVE to get seen for whiplash, maybe concussion and in turn miss our flight. Or it was just a wrong turn.

As we entered the car park and took a ticket, we noticed the pricing – for a five-minute stay it was £5 and £20 for ten. Super steep – but in hindsight a possible silver lining, maybe the people in charge had this exact situation in mind. Nobody needs a drawn-out goodbye, it only makes space for more tears, words, and hugs that leave you with a longing ache. My brother is not a man of many words, we communicate our feelings towards each other between the pages of our birthday and Christmas cards. Whenever I dare to delve down an alley that could lead to a positive affirmation I am shot down with a look, an insult, a roadblock. But, there were not enough stop traffic cones, stop signs or bollards in the world to stop this from being a little bit messy.

First the girls, Dotty bobbed and smiled unknowingly and Dylan threw her arms around all of them, full of kisses and love you’s. Sam next, welling up but not quite the waterfall which lay ahead. And then me. The longest me, my mum and my brother have ever been away from each other was a two-month hole I fell into called Malia one summer. I came home on my birthday because I couldn’t be without them on it and flew back to Malia on the night. If the idea of me in Malia sounds ridiculous to you, it’s because it 100% was. I wasn’t in a great place and Malia seemed to be the answer. Oh, hindsight! you cruel, all-knowing mistress.

I threw my arms around Jake, mumbling something Christmas/Birthday card worthy into his shoulder, he squeezed super tight then pushed me away and told me off for getting him emotional. Which I’ve learned over the years that in ‘Jake’ this means ‘I love you very much’. And then Mum. I don’t think we’d touched when my tears started and by the time we had her’s had started too. This goodbye could only be £5 long, that is all we could muster together in pocket change. So, we sobbed a little bit. It was the great unknown I think, we have never been without each other, what if we malfunction? What if as soon we are out of each others radius we go rogue, forget all our morals and values and go wild (maybe that’s what happens with Malia, finally it’s all starting to make sense) or maybe we work out that we’re okay – that we can navigate the world away from each other because without sounding like a huge cheese slice, we’re never too far away not really. Not with a love like ours. It’s inescapable. And sometimes that’s tough, but right now – as we go to check in to our hotel for the night and they run to pay the car park it’s actually really quite comforting.




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