The cure for absurdity will always be normality. And today I found a little slice of exactly that.
We went to a party – a family party held by my mum’s childhood best friend (who is also my godmother) to which we were invited. It was the kind of party where old people you don’t ever remember meeting tell you how much you’ve grown. They knew me before even the diagnosis of diabetes when I was a young toddler; her parents remembered holding me and sitting me on their laps on the week I was diagnosed; when I was, in their words “just a bubba”. Her sons (one my age, one two years younger, two older) were like my brothers, we’d grown up together. Suddenly, they were men (I hadn’t seen them in a while). Nobody there had any idea of the current state of my health, and my body was doing a great job at hiding it today, enough that I could ditch Winston, so I seized the opportunity to feel like everybody else. And it. Was. Heaven.
I sat with the boys (her two youngest sons), and talked about rugby and university and old times and sport and even about my writing and what we wanted to do after university. No health came into it. It. Was. Heaven. I loved being able to talk about sport again… Proper conversation, with people who’d been as obsessed with it at one stage as I was. We went to get food from the very fancy catering tent, and I stood in a queue with their family, and met their cousin…
And then I was introduced to the 20 year old’s best mate. Or actually, a very attractive looking guy stood in the queue behind us pointed out that nobody was pronouncing “paella” the Spanish way when they asked for it, so I instantly decided he was awesome. And then I looked at him and came to the conclusion that his appearance was even more awesome than his defensiveness of the word paella. He looked mediterranean, hair cut really short on the sides and slightly longer on top – military style. Stubbly beard clinging to his face. Fit (calm down, I mean he clearly worked out… But he was fit in every sense of the word). He joined us at our table, sat next to me, and the 20 year old I had grown up with introduced me by saying “This is (I won’t say his name). He’s a marine (as in, Royal Marine), by the way. Have you told her that yet?” He asked his friend at the end. No, he hadn’t told me that. But when I was young… Like, early secondary school years, I wanted to join the military (until I read the list of health issues that stop you joining the military and realised I was screwed) and I have a great deal of respect for the people who serve our country (plus it was cool to be able to have conversations about “the time when I was in a chamber of CS gas during basic training and we had to remove our whatever and say our name, rank…”).
And suddenly I felt like a normal human being again. These people weren’t judging me (they weren’t the sort to anyway, but there was no was I was giving them the chance to act like everyone else). They didn’t mind my company, in fact they seemed to enjoy it, which made me feel a lot more comfortable with my own existence. I relaxed into myself. I smiled. I laughed. We drank cider. 20 year old friend and his marine friend invited me to go and grab beers with them, so we went for a drive in the marine’s car and I. Just. Felt… Young. Again. For the first time since I turned 20, I wasn’t worrying about how many more days I was going to see, thinking about my next brush with death, or hating humanity, or feeling helplessly alone, or dealing with worries meant for someone many times my age. I just felt like an ordinary 20 year old. I sat in the back of that car with music blaring over the sound of all of our voices, not just hearing it but feeling it, wondering how on earth this feeling could possibly stay inside of me because I was so content I didn’t know how to contain it. We went back to the party, we found an empty room (empty of people, but full of quiche of all things), we drank the beers. And yes, I shouldn’t have had beer (especially not as much as two boys considerably taller and more robust than me), I shouldn’t have gone on drinking because my body already hates me, but I just wanted the enjoy the moment. And I did. I felt like me before the worst. I felt like the person I wanted to be, the person I missed being… Because these people let me be her. They saw her where nobody else could, and 20 year old friend has no idea how amazing he was at coaxing me back out of the nuclear bunker I had been hiding in.
Of all the things to do, we blew bubbles using bubble mixture and polystyrene cups. We hung out, we talked, we moaned about parents and adjusting to living with them after having our own lives for a year… I invited them both to come sailing sometime in the summer (which I think is now actually going to be a thing because they both seemed really up for it). I wrapped myself in the warmth of the hoody I was given because it was FREEZING and we ventured outside to listen to karaoke and we sang along and then we just sat there and it was so, so normal. But for me, it was extraordinary. All the rubbish is worth it, for little slices of life like this. The ability to hide the truth? Or the ability to rediscover what never left? People who didn’t mind my company… The realisation that there is hope for my social life yet.
Of course there was the inevitable kitchen conversation at one point of,
“It isn’t fair, all this.” A sad voice that came from lips attached to a slowly shaking head. My godmother’s husband.
“I’m sorry?” I already knew what he was talking about
“Everything you’ve been through, everything you’re going through. It isn’t fair.” But it is fair, because it isn’t that bad, and it could be so much worse, and I just thank the universe every day that it is me and not somebody I care about… Wait. Actually… It sucks a little bit. But not right now, right now thanks to your second youngest son and his friend, I feel like a human again, a normal human instead of a lump of dirt, and honestly I can’t complain. I’m too happy even to protest. I sort of grunted, and smiled. For once, the sympathy didn’t make me squirm. It wasn’t false or over the top or based on misunderstanding… He wasn’t annoyed or tired of hearing about stuff, he was tired with me. We didn’t need to talk any more about the effect it was having on me, because he seemed to have a pretty good idea. I liked that a lot.
After standing in the kitchen alone for quite a while, I went and found the boys again (they’d walked the dog and spent ages trying to escape from two little girls who were obsessed with them) and the conversation continued. I can’t even tell you what we talked about. I think it was stupid. I laughed as they tried to create bubbles filled with the vapour from their E-Cigarrettes. We fed the hyperactive spaniel that we were meant to be watching (but kept escaping and leading to a wild goose chase) pieces of the quiche. I was invited to hang out with them later that night, to go to the beach with them and just hang out. But it was time to go.
I hugged goodbye to people that were genuinely pleased to see me, and my godmother was pretty over the moon about the fact that I had showed up, which made me feel all the feels. I hugged 20 year old friend and his little brother goodbye (well, not little because he’s 18 and taller than me but… yeah). I got in the car, and the classic and familiar warm feeling of my drunken state wrapped itself around my neck and crept behind my eyes until even my eyeballs felt warm. I was so drunk my eyes couldn’t focus on the moving things outside the window, so it all became a colourful swirl as I rested my head against the window and let my heavy eyelids hang half shut over glazed eyes. I picked up my phone and just hit play from the switch on my headphones, and Comfortably Numb by Pink Floyd started playing, which made me smile. I don’t think that smile left my face the entire way home. I just kept replaying the day over and over and over again.
When we got back to my parents’ house, my dog limped out of the front door and broke into a run when he saw me. I’d sobered up considerably by drinking over a litre of water on the way home, and only felt a little floaty as I followed him into the house, where his whole body wagged with his tail until I sat down and allowed him to plant himself on my lap in a flurry of nudges and licks and tail wagging. All day my body has been all I don’t feel great, can you stop this now? No. I couldn’t. Not today. Today I was still in my totally done with humanity mood… Totally done with my health and the effect it has on every other aspect of my life… And I was done. I was done with even acknowledging how unwell I felt all day. And now, I’m on top of the world… (although I was a complete dick to my sixth form friend last night; it wasn’t her fault I hated humanity and I was scared and pushing her away and I screwed up. I hate myself for that. A lot. That, I’m sure, will resurface when this feeling subsides).
Also today, Bastille FINALLY released their new song, Good Grief. At some point, I will post about why the music of this band (and a couple of others) means so much to me. For now, there’s still alcohol in my blood and a smile on my face and a dog on my feel and an ill feeling running throughout me that I refuse to be bothered by right now (my heart is also quite annoyed. Has been since this morning. Can’t be bothered to accept this, therefore am just not. Will pretend it isn’t the case until that’s no longer a solution, because I hate humanity and I am not asking it for help because I will not trust or depend on it again… Wow, emotion is an idiot. I’m sure I will act on this issue if I have no other option, do not panic).
I don’t want to forget the feeling of today. I felt like a human. An actual human. I conversed with so many people, about normal things, simple smalltalk. They enjoyed my conversation, they told me about my mum when she was younger and me when I was a baby and I enjoyed their conversation too. I felt like an independent actually tolerable HUMAN.
It was amazing to find myself hiding in plain sight.