Were we really in Australia for only three weeks? It seemed so much longer, and I have returned to a world which is both familiar and strange to me. It’s not just the jet lag which means I have trouble recalling what time I’m meant to take Elliot to swimming lessons, or whether gymnastics has started up again. The time when I did those things as a matter of course and routine seems an age away, far more than three weeks.
I walk up the street. Our taxi driver welcomes me profusely and inquires after Red Twin. He was the one who took us to the airport. Everyone else does not even register that we had been away. After all, it was only three weeks, and there was Easter in there so everyone’s been a bit out of routine.
They have no idea that something monumental has just happened. I feel like I am living in an alternate reality, but I’m the only one who knows it. Everyone else has just been going about their normal lives as if there hasn’t been a seismic shift in the world.
It’s surreal to do banal things like buying yeast to make fruit bread. Red Twin loved my fruit bread. I stand in the supermarket aisle, and I find it remarkable that the prices for everyday items are the same as before we left. It feels like they should have increased, or all the products should have changed, or I should open the yeast packet and find sugar in there instead. But it is all so ordinary.
Then I get to the checkout, and there’s a slightly new software on the screen for calculating purchases.
That feels ‘right’ to me. It fits, because it is slightly off kilter. It’s a comfort even, because something in my environment is no longer what it was before. It feels like a glitch in the matrix, a tiny validation that the world is not what it was.
Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at meetjesusatuni.com.