Off Again

Are you supposed to cry when you leave home?

Are you supposed to cry when you're forty years old and leaving home for the forth or is it the fifth time?

What about when you can't remember the last time you cried, and the worst things in your life are having a beer belly when you don't even drink beer, writer's block and a vague fear that your only real skill is faking other skills.

Nothing dramatic, just a little welling up and a tiny bit of overflow, following an hour of that strange sadness you get when you realise you're about to leave behind something so familiar you've stopped noticing it.

There's a similar sadness that comes from sitting alone in hotel rooms that are interchangable with a million other hotel rooms. But not, I think, from sitting in unfamiliar rooms with old friends.

I don't think sadness is really the opposite of happiness. Happiness comes in moments, minutes, and occasionally hours - I was happy for four or five hours last night. When was the last time you could say that? No, I think sadness is the opposite - or maybe just the absence - of contentment.

Like the song goes, you don't know what you've got till it's gone. Contentment is a vanilla emotion, a feeling that everything's okay, and unremarkable, and unthreatening. Watching someone be happy might make you feel the same way - or annoyed. The same for watching someone cry. But watching someone be content is...boring.

Happiness may be a warm gun, but contentment is a warm bed, a bed you've got used to - even if you know it's actually a lumpy bed with a horrible lime green matress. Yes, it's familiarity again.

Which means, I suppose, that if you've lived with failure all your life, then the prospect of success might provoke a kind of sadness. File that under 'possibly cod psychology' and 'mull over later'.

So, she's leaving home - to quote another Beatles song. And although she's been wanting to leave for years...although she doesn't want to stay, she doesn't quite want to go.

Should I stay or should I....yes, well, anyway.

We're off to see the....

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