15 October 2010

Perpetual Motion: People

At some point in your life you realize that it is not places but people that make you feel home.

So it is only natural that, as you leave places behind, you will want to bring your people along. A gift, a memento, a promise to write or to call, maybe visit. A social network link because, you know, you will also be chatting, talking, conferencing each other face to face across the chasm. Like being home.

Is it not great? Keeping in touch with people is so much easier than keeping in touch with places.

And maybe, if you are lucky, you will meet them again somewhere.


Age ten: Pator

Sitting on the rocks next to the beach, I was holding my knees to my chest while Taro basked in the sun, lying on his back with one leg dipping lazily in the water. The murmur of the ocean blanketed everything and was a lovely background to idle chat.

"Dunno. Journalist. An artist like Maman," I said, "something with people, definitely."

Taro chuckled "Like your mom? I hope not. She's fierce."

He had been one of my first friends back in Eram and one those who had left ahead of us. As it turns out when it had been time for my family to move out, dad's next assignment had been Pator. Down in Matar, actually.

Have you seen it? Of course everybody knows about Matar, the cradle of the Republic and everything, but have you seen it? From above it is this beautiful blue ocean world, with green dots here and there for people to live on. And on the ground, from the snowy mountain ranges to the plains and deserts to the jungle islands... oh, my favourite part used to be the islands. We lived on an island.

This is was where Taro's family had returned to. this was their 'home.' By some amazing coincidence we had ended up living on the very same island where they hailed from and it was cool because some of mom's old friends from Eram also were there.

Someday I would learn to do that, to arrange coincidence the way mom did. ;)

Anyway, funny how knowing someone from my previous life had helped so very much when I arrived... how long had it been, five years now? How time flies. Closing my eyes, I took a deep breath of salty ocean air. It felt great.

I felt home.

I swear there must be this law of the universe that says whenever I start feeling at home, it is time to move to some other planet. I did not want to tell Taro. And besides that, there was much more to say but... I did not really feel like it. Somehow it just felt as if it would make things more difficult. So I just looked at the horizon and kept the small talk going.

"And what about you?"

"I want to be a soldier with the Marines."

"Oh, I see. How typical, you want to kill people," I teased, "you suck, y'know."

"It is not about killing, Kü, it is about fighting for my people." He replied matter-of-factly.

See, most in his tribe, the Brutor, feel different about fighting than the rest of us. For them it is usually about people and freedom, not about conquest, profit or sport. Fighting is Freedom. Fighting is Life. I knew that.

Maybe I could poke him with that.

"That's just an excuse, you know, so all of you can go and beat the crap out of each other like in the holos."

He just grumbled and pretended to ignore me.

Hey, maybe that is what I really needed, a good fight. A good break-up fight so epic that we would look back, remember this day and think good riddance! That way we would not have to miss each other terribly, every single day. We'd hate each other's guts, good. I could live with that. Half a universe away, that's what I would do.

In case you have not noticed, I am really good at fooling myself, sometimes.

So there, Newly Discovered Fact: Fighting is killing, fighting is crap. I hate you because you want to be a killer. 'Cause I said so. Just like that.

I pushed it. "No, really, must everything be solved by fighting?" now seriously enough for him to take notice. "Stupidest thing in the world."

"Sometimes you can't avoid a fight."

"I think there is always a way, if you really want to. And if you are smart enough."

He grumbled again and, in the corner of my eye, I could see him tensing up. I kept my sight on the horizon, thinking of how to tease him next. There is something not quite smart enough about trying to pick up a fight with an islander, boy or girl.

Oh, whatever. Keep poking.

"So, are you?"

"Am what?"

"Smart enough?"

Without actually looking in his direction yet keeping all my attention on that corner of my eye, I think I saw his head move. He was there allright, maybe he was wondering why I was suddenly hostile. Or maybe his tribal instinct was sizing me up for a well-deserved beating.



"I'm leaving. Dad got transferred..."

A movement, then stopped. I finally turned my head and found him propped up on one muscled arm, the other resting on his knee, curiously looking at me.

"Kü." He still called me that.

"It's Amarr."

"Kütral, listen," he slid closer and drew me in. I felt his arm gently pushing me closer, firmly across my shoulders, and I nested my head against his chest. I did not hug back.

"It's Amarr, Taro, it's fucking Amarr. I am going to live in the Empire now."

You know what some people say, right? Only two kinds of people live in Amarr: slavers and slaves. Even in this day and age.

Yah, yah, I know, and already knew back then it's not like that... but how about everyone else? Did my friends know? What would they think, what would they say? I was moving to the Empire. What would he say, what would he think of me?

And I did not want to go but, what can you do? Sometimes there is just no alternative but going wherever it is comes next.

"So what? We will always be friends," he whispered to my ear, "You are one of my people."

WTF? Hello? I was trying to break up and he was coming up with this? And why was that, genius, to make things more difficult? Put me through the grinder and make me hate even more already what I was about to go through? I mean, was it that hard to figure out that we were over anyway, whether we wanted or not. Take a hint, you obtuse, uncaring and simple-minded idiot. I am going anyway, so let me.

Why bother? He has never been good at hints, even today. I pushed him away slowly, deliberately.

"Goodbye Taro." So much left unsaid.

I stood up.

"N'de rendape ajuta," he said to my back as I turned around.

Yah, right, I thought, I would love to see that. Ten-year-old crosses the universe to be with friend, news at ten.

I did not run, I walked... and I did not look behind, I just stared ahead all the way home. No running, no looking back, no crying. Hey, two out of three, not bad.

Only halfway my sore feet reminded me that I had left my sandals behind.

I did not care. Wish it had been only sandals.


Now by the second time you move, you have already learned it doesn't quite work the way you expected. There is always something in between: distance, timezone, time apart, the fact that no matter how many times you call each other, the nuisance of a call will never feel the same as sitting in front of each other for drinks. Or a hug. Or a kiss. And then you start drifting apart.

So it does not work, and it turns out that you do leave friends behind, as much as you may want not to. But you expected this already, right? I mean, you learned that the very first time you moved.

One thing though. Maybe, if you are lucky, you will have good friends; they will keep you in their hearts, the same as you keep them in yours. And the day you see each other again, it will be like you were never apart.

For good friends, those are forever.

Perpetual Motion
Previously: Places

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