This past Saturday, 400 people gathered in a large and intricately decorated hall to celebrate the birthday of my mother. There were people I hadn’t seen since they used to carry me around in their arms as an infant. There were people I hoped I’d never have to see again. There were old people, young people, babies and teens; couples and singles and trios and families. They all came. For my Mum.
When you think about it, this is no small thing. I doubt I even know 400 people that I’d like enough to invite to my birthday bash. And even if I did, I highly doubt that all of them would like me back enough to travel from far and wide to be there with me. But they all came through for her, for my Mum. The place was packed, there weren’t enough tables. I played musical chairs for most of the evening, chopping and changing as more guests arrived and needed to be seated.
I watched as people came forward in waves to hug her and thank her for all that she’d done for them; to slip her envelopes and colourfully wrapped gifts; to place huge bouquets of lilies and daisies and firework bursts of chrysanthemums into her open arms. I smiled as once, twice, a third time, Dad leaned his head in to hers and they shared a brief, stolen moment amongst the happy chaos of dancing and speeches and plates and plates of food.
When I was 13 (I think), my Uncle Theo died. He was one of my Mum’s younger brothers.
I had been dreaming about an upcoming school trip to Beamish Museum. It’s not often I remember my dreams – they usually escape me as soon as my eyes open, fading into the morning like smoke. That is unless they have been particularly jarring or bizarre, only then do they tend to stick with me, to me, until my mind shrugs them off. My head was full of the double-decker trams I would ride, the old fashioned rock candy I would eat, the sun dappling the flanks of the horses that trotted through the recreated Victorian and Edwardian streets.
This Friday, I will pack a small case and, after work, head off to Heathrow where I will board a plane along with Older Sis and Favourite Uncle and fly Up North to the Parental Homestead.
Sometimes, I really wish that I could locate that part of my brain and my soul responsible for being able to experience feelings and emotions and cut them out. Failing that, I wish that there was a switch I could flip – on and off as I pleased – that was hotwired to my emotions.
Because feelings, emotions, sentiments and the like, they’re exhausting and life, I feel, might just be that more straightforward without them.
I know people who are the very definition of indifference. They live like with a perpetually raised eyebrow that says “oh? Forreal? Cool,” and a small smile playing on their lips at all times because nothing ever bothers them (or at least doesn’t bother them enough to have any kind of discernible reaction).
I envy them a lot of the time.
I sat with my feet tucked underneath me, head pressed against my shoulder to keep the phone from sliding out and clattering to the floor, and I spoke about this with one of my best friends.
Wouldn’t it perfect, I said, to assume the form of an android?
What are you talking about? He asked me.
When you are young and are being ordered to your room for letting curiosity overcome you and smashing your mother’s favourite decorative wall plate; you stare, in frustration, out of your window and mutter the words “when I’m grown up…”
Stereo. 20-something aspiring bon vivant. London based. Exceptionally Nigerian. Partial to snark. My default setting is "wry". Jeans and blazers are my uniform. Landlady. Speed reader, tuneless singer, hoarder of words, drinker of Schloer; I am suspicious of most people, have zero tolerance for tomfoolery, have a vast DVD collection, worship at the altar of Al Green, own too many bottles of nail polish, have small eyes, small ears and giant hair and owe approximately 86% of my awesome to the Parents Typewriter.
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