With a slap, the plate clattered down on the table as he pushed it away in disgust.
The drying, lumpy curry sauce was mildly satisfying, but it could not disguise the bland, stale food beneath. Yet again, the local Chinese take-away failed to live up to the dreams his hunger had ensnared him with. Once more, the mirage had fooled him.
Sitting back in the sofa, he rolled his tongue around his mouth, clearing any remaining debris with a look of scorn upon his face. He was not surprised. After all, he had become accustomed to this now, but going through the motions was just another moment in the Groundhog Day he found himself plodding through once more.
It had been two months since he returned home. Two months into a summer that he looked forward to for a long time after spending over three years away. Three years away on the other side of the globe, away from his family and now he was back.
But the novelty had worn off. Quickly.
Once the family wedding buzz passed, a “summer” of torrential rain ensued, providing the perfect pathetic fallacy for his time at home.
It didn’t take long for the realisation to dawn upon him.
Nothing has changed….except for himself.
Back under the parents’ roof, sharing a room again, working the same job from his teenage years and feeling those familiar disconnected feelings from his hometown, the doubts circled in his head….what was he doing here???
It hadn’t felt like home in such a long time, even before he slung the backpack over his shoulder. The university years in England had gradually prized his heart away from the chaotic charm of this rural town and once his eyes were opened, there was no going back.
But now he was back, and it was strange. It felt like a chapter that should never have been written, as if he walked through a door that was never meant to be opened.
But here he was, living it. A 29-year-old revisiting the scene of his late teenage life but all the people that made those years fun were nowhere to be seen. They were all but gone, having vanished down their own paths a long time ago.
Nothing was like it was then, not even his favourite take-away. Focusing his gaze back upon the laptop, he poured over the scores of teaching jobs in Asia once again; just like he did every single night after work.
Perhaps if he stared at the laptop hard enough a vortex would open up and take him away from the twilight zone.
Take him back to the other side, away from limbo, back to real life and real living.
In three years away, he never felt as lost as he did now.
This was not home anymore. It’s time to grab the backpack again. It’s time to go.