Many happy returns
"Look, stay in touch," people urged, making us welcome in beds from Bluff to Balclutha - say nothing: it is true - and pressing upon us this alarming range of email addresses and phone numbers, writes Pat Veltkamp Smith in And Another Thing.
But who do you think will answer an email to Beelzebub@hotmail and what of whaddyano@slingshot?
And those complex phone numbers written with grateful haste on the edge of something, numbers beginning seemingly impossibly with the number 9 and ending just three figures later or 021s now 027s, which look like costly calls before you even start.
It is heartwarming, really, the way people say we want to stay in touch, and we say it back.
Once we would say, "Look, we are in St Andrew St, not too far away, huh?"
Now we have to think about it.
All these media people keen to give out, to put us in the picture, see us right.
Like Bernard Morris coming back to our 150th Southland Times reunion do and telling me of this wonderful fish and chip place near him which doesn't just do takeaways, but delivers to the door - hot, salty and with an obligatory wedge of lemon.
Fabulous. Here's the number: give them a try. Yeah right, we will, realising later Bernard has come from Australia for the reunion, so what's fabulous in Perth may not quite cut it in The Caps, Western Southland.
It was quite strange to find long-haired lads turned into short-back-and-sides granddads and beautiful girls into beautiful women.
We talk a lot about our exports and our tax take, but when you look at what we let go north, tons of talent and potential, it makes you think. People flooding back to reunions bring a sense of the world beyond in which they have become stars, part of a southern galaxy whose light reflects on us.
I once hated people returning, saying, "Are you still living here?"
Like you aren't really. That's a tap-dancing teacher in my shoes.
But there was nothing of a busman's holiday, tiki tour with these reunionists.
They were glad to be here and we were so glad of them, pleased and proud of them. Thankfully, life's not a straight train track, but more like a spaghetti junction with loops and turns and returns and surprises. Nice.
The Southland Times