I went back to visit my wife on the tiny island where she is working. I was anxious and had been wondering how things would go, with many things needing to be said. It was also a chance to have a much needed break from a job that I can’t decide if I love or hate.
The old guys at the market were still in their usual spots, drunk by 10am, same as always, lurching between bags of carrots and onions, swigging bottles of hopi, an island home brew. One poor sod lost his legs and then his bottle in a shattered mess of glass and man. Some people treat him kindly, like a sick brother. Most keep their distance. Some teenagers laugh.
It’s easy to feel that you’re losing your legs too after a day at sea, and certainly so after eyeballing a 15m animal underneath it, backed up by a posse of her mates.
They say people have two types of responses to seeing adult Humpback whales with nothing other than a bit of glass, some rubber and a plastic tube, flippering wildly. Some laugh. Others cry. I did both and simultaneously fogged up my mask and inhaled water: not recommended.
Then a 3m swell hit, I got some good waves and things felt good.
Inevitably, some conversations have to be had.
Try as I may to change, I am an Australian creature that thrives at home in routine.
I also realised I am distinctly not suited to the expat lifestyle and culture. We could say the alcohol doesn’t agree with me. But it’s more than that.
My wife and I grew apart and are now very different people to the ones who met a decade ago. We are no longer compatible and have separated.
AA taught me that I have no right to try to change other people, just as other people have no right to try and change me. AA does not say that recovering alcoholics have to roll over and appease people, because doing so creates resentments. I’ve realised that my tendency to want to please people, including those I love, erodes my autonomy.
Speaking of significant changes, my four-legged best friend became three-legged on Monday. He’s dealing with it well, doped to the eyeballs on Opiate Allsorts, having his every need attended to (including being hand fed poached chicken and rice by his very concerned human, omnomnomnom).
Poor bastard lost his leg chasing a tennis ball.
Things wear out as you get older. A snapped Anterior Cruciate Ligament in a knee became surgery and a post-operative staphylococcus aureus infection that basically ate the knee joint from the inside out. These things happen in human surgeries every day around the world too.
If I were still drinking, these two things would have sunk me. Crab meat.
Instead I’m grateful to report that I seem to be still putting one foot in front of the other, with my three-legged mate beside me and lots of two-legged ones for support and company.