Q left to go back home to Australia. I worked hard at having a Good Day, the last day we spent together, and I think I did quite well in not being much of a sobbing mess. I dropped them off at the airport and made my way back to the unpleasant hostel and a room that was just mine now.
The second thing I did was to check facebook, where I received a message that was clearly not going to be good news. And it wasn’t. My friend, my former housemate, was in a coma. Sometime later I would find out that she had died. Instantly, my shield of emotional distance slammed into place. I noted it with relief and intellectual curiosity – because recently this shield has not always been there for me. So I turned, and set about packing my things for Luxembourg. Only once did I break, crying heartily when a song about someone’s friend being away for too long came on. A gift from my dad, it made me think of him, and I wanted to be wherever he was, held tightly, being calmed. But there was no satisfaction in that, in crying then, so I wiped my eyes, and turned to check under the bed for stray items.
In the morning I caught the train, which ended up being three trains, to Luxembourg. I was cheerful, and made friends with someone who was useful. A friend from Helsinki uni days picked me up, and he showed me the world of Luxembourg. We walked through awesome tunnels and ate ice cream and I was happy most of the time. And so the days have continued. The world outside is pleasant and inviting and I enjoy being in it, but my heart is elsewhere, thinking of other people, wishing that teleportation did not just exist on Star Trek. I had thought, off and on, about how I would go once Q left. Sometimes I would be looking forward to it, sometimes I would be terrified of it. I was above all interested to see how I would cope, but this was not the test I was planning to set.
Simone was my first housemate, after I kicked my parents out of the house we were renting, telling them it was time to grow up and see the world. It was her first sharehouse. I conducted the housemate ‘interview’ over a beer at the bar in Trades Hall, after a Reclaim the Night march. It was mostly a conversation that went that almost-too-fast speed that Simone goes. I believe I was just as energetic, feeding off her bounce. We decided we would likely be compatible housemates through a complex discussion of music (Spice Girls, yes or no?) and politics (Unions, yes or no?). (Okay, I promise it was more nuanced than that.)
So, her bounciness moved in, and changed my life. I remember coming home to find that she had organised our considerable library according to the Dewey decimal system. The remnants of this sorting remain today. Simone would come into my room when I needed a hug, or when she had news – again, this frequently involved bouncing. I feel privileged that she trusted me enough to be allowed to comfort her when she needed it. As I sit, far away from my homelands, I can remember the feel of her hugs, comforting me after a crappy day, sharing her energy with me. Simone became a part of my family.
Simone told me once that she knew two things about herself – she was short and she was smart. She was indeed those two things – and also, so much more. I would watch as she sat at the kitchen table, pumping out an essay on some topic that made my brain hurt. It would be returned two weeks later with top marks. Every time. She used to sneak Fruit Loops into her room and stay up all night writing policy.
And I remember that our conversations would sometimes move in time to her bouncing – we would share stories, getting more and more excited, until we had to start “calling the next tangent”, a way of allowing the speaker to finish, knowing that our story would get a turn. These conversations could last for hours.
I was with her when she went to Sydney, the time she chose to move there. I could see in her eyes the excitement and the possibilities that this new adventure promised. From afar, I watched as she quickly became a part of that world, and I was (am) impressed and proud.
I am privileged to have known, to have learnt from, and to have laughed with, a person such as Simone.