Cheerio to us.

If I close my eyes, it often feels like nothing has changed at all.

-S.G. Kilbride

Nothing lost is lost. It rests in the corners of our mind, the depths of our thoughts. When we seek solace, comfort, happiness — we visit these places and sit with them a while. The world outside starts to disappear, the noises slowly fade. It is just you, basking in these memories.

There should be nothing here I don’t remember.

Arriving, unfolding out of the car after countless hours of driving — covering distance a child’s brain couldn’t comprehend. Pulling up to the big wooden gate, parking on the lawn because the boat was waiting for us in the garage. Inside, the musty smell of the happiest place in the world. Furniture covered with old sheets to protect it from the thatch. Earth red tiles underneath my feet.

The turquoise kitchen, where we got pancakes from the first dad who was awake.The gateway fireplace. The big leather couch, like an old friend. Rest with me it says. Look out to me, calls the river. Where we learnt to ski, had mud fights, sand fights, new years eve games. Where we took outside showers and scrubbed at the salt that lived on our skin all summer.

The bunk room, where the kids stopped being shy and jumped on the beds. Where we planned makeovers, shared clothes, funny stories, practiced dances, said I love you.

Where we set up the Christmas tree, allowed one glorious hour to listen to carols while dad left the house. Where we played games at dinner, rang in the millennium. The kids watched on, as the parents smoked and drank at the bar, at dad’s pride and joy on wheels. As they dipped into the wine cellar under the stairs.

And up the stairs, the bath with the view, the cupboard with the precious christmas tree. The balcony, the smell of the thatch. Resisting the urge to pull it out, one by one, and when mum wasn’t looking, grabbing at a whole clump. The conversations, the occasional fights. Long bubble baths, practicing more dances, painting our nails, shaving our legs for the first time.

Gin and tonics, Graća, deck chairs, sunshine, moonshine. Card games, darts, wigs, long lazy meals. The CDs we’d bring with us, the tv we were allowed to watch when it rained outside. The next door neighbour’s trampoline.

The thorns in the grass that you had to suffer through to get down to the boat. Trips up the river, picnics and breakfasts. The world’s most beautiful skiing, in this tiny secluded place. Undiscovered, and then all too quickly — discovered. More sundowners, salty chips, biltong. On through the canals, laughing, raucous, loud. On top of our own world.

The mums and the dinners. Warm and laughing. Dads and their beers. Happy and carefree. Kids and the simplest, purest joy. Another life.

But it’s still there. Waiting for me when I need it. Danny and Danda are down the road, friends are never far away. Drop in for a drink, they say. Stay for dinner, they insist.

I think about these times, there just for me. How lucky are we. Forced to slow down with the world, I sit and I reminisce.

There should be nothing here I don’t remember.

And there isn’t.

For nothing lost is ever truly lost.

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Working from home. What a tired idea.

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