I haven’t been up to anything interesting, but I feel like I should post about my first week back home because I have just been feeling all the feels. This may be an entire post of saying something about nothing…
I managed to post my little brother’s birthday card. After what can only be described as a financial shenanigan, I managed to buy just a single stamp, and then I no longer felt like the world’s worst sibling. I hung out with my Italian Uni friend for a while, we sat on Mile End Road while her and her friend ate crêpes, and then I found myself sat on a train in Cannon Street station with a rucksack on my back that I’d thrown a change of clothes into. We rolled out of Cannon street, the shard on one side of the river growing closer as we head towards it. The train curled around what I recognised as the covering over Borough Market, and I could see Canary Wharf and Tower Bridge as we crossed the river. The Gherkin, Walkie Talkie building etc. were clustered together behind us. It’s weird. This view should no longer amaze me but I can’t stop taking pictures of it. It’s all so familiar. The journey from that station itself felt like home.
I arrived in Sidcup and sat on the doorstep for 20 minutes waiting for my cousin to get home from school and let me in. When she found out I was going to be there for dinner she messaged me and asked me to stay the night, unaware that this was already the plan… But damn did it make me feel loved. I laid on the sofa just chatting to her all afternoon. It felt like home. My own food was still in their cupboards, they made the spare bedroom mine and it felt like I belonged in it, and my phone automatically connected to their wifi.
I relaxed… so much that when Auntie Godmother found out it was freshers’ week (and as we walked the dog told me to stay over for as long as I liked) and started telling me their plans for the next few days… I decided that I would go back. She left me a set of keys, but I posted them back through the door because that was what we’d arranged (we later realised how ridiculous this was), and I headed back to Mile End. I got back to my flat (can I call it a flat? It’s basically a room) at 13:56 and somehow 9 minutes later I had showered, re-packed my rucksack, cooked some mange tout, and was standing outside waiting for one of my old sixth form friends.
We walked to Brick Lane from Mile End (took an hour). I took a million and one pictures of the ever changing street art that’s sprayed on every wall. The restaurant we’d planned to go to was shut, so we headed to Shoreditch Box Park and looped back on ourselves. And that was when I became officially broke. We walked past a homeless man and his dog. He was thin and he wasn’t begging, he was just sat there focussed on the Staffordshire bull terrier that cowered against him on his lap, stroking it. And as another human, I couldn’t ignore that. Judge me all you want for what I did (believe me, I’ve been judged), but I went into the nearest shop and bought a tin of dog food and the biggest, nicest looking sandwich I could find (a Finest BLT) which then meant I couldn’t afford any food for myself (my friend insisted on buying me a sandwich though). The man said thank you but I felt kind of ashamed as I handed him this stupid sandwich because I wanted to do more and to me just handing over one sandwich that wouldn’t even last five minutes felt like such a stupid, almost insulting gesture.
I still feel bad about it, even now. Because it just felt so small, so stupid, so… Not enough. I felt even worse when my actions were later questioned, and I was told not to dare mention my lack of funds again because if I didn’t have much to give I shouldn’t have given it away… Humans are the most selfish species on the planet. How can someone even think like that? Without that money, I still had tins of food in my cupboard (yes, I’m down to tinned food), and a roof over my head. I wasn’t going to be any worse off, and that man was. I still stand by that decision, and I’d do it again. I don’t think it was anybody’s place to criticise that – I’ll do what I want. In a well-off area, nobody had given him a penny. People who could have helped, people with so much disposable income… did nothing. How?
We got on the tube and took a slow walk from Westminster to Charing X (we parted ways somewhere along the route). I love being by the Thames. If you’ve followed this blog for long enough you will know of my love of rivers in general, but whenever things used to go wrong or get too much, I’d find myself by the Thames. The smell, the sounds, the view… I will never tire of it. I had less than a minute to get on the train before it left the station, but I made it, and I returned to Auntie Godmother’s for a big bowl of chicken casserole and rice. I laid about on the sofa again and we all just watched TV together. Eventually, Uncle [Auntie Godmother’s Husband] walked in. My dad doesn’t usually say hello to me when he walks in, so when he greeted me with an upbeat “hello” and then said, “it’s nice to see you” I was a bit stunned. Auntie Godmother’s laugh filled the silence that followed as I sort of sat there scrambling through my mind for a response, genuinely not expecting that. Eventually I managed to spit out a you too.
On the subject of unexpected things, that evening I also got a lovely message from my next door neighbour (the one with the puppy who I spent ages talking to over the summer). She said she just thought she’d check to see how I was getting on in my new flat. She asked if I knew what modules I was doing yet and said she hoped I was eating ok and keeping well. She was just taking the puppy to his training classes but she said she’d speak to me soon. I felt all the feels and had to be retrieved from cloud nine so that I could actually put my feet back on the ground and walk out of the room to go to bed. I fell asleep watching vlogs.
I left again, posted the keys back through the door… And then bumped into Uncle [Auntie Godmother’s Husband] as I was walking to the station. He and I had both caught the cold that their younger daughter has had recently, and he was carrying a bag full of every cold and flu medicine under the sun. He told me that I was more than welcome to return that evening, and that if I changed my mind I just had to text and let them know as they had to go out that evening. I went back to Mile End and met another friend from uni (can’t think of a name to give her… She’s from Portsmouth so I guess she’ll have to be Uni Portsmouth Friend). We went to the pub and had a catch up, and then went to the freshers’ fair.
I went straight to the sports hall (I’d never been there in my entire life) and signed up for a load of sports societies, because I CAN DREAM and it was to awkward to say no or explain that playing rugby will not only probably break me but make my heart severely grumpy. So I continued to live in my dream/ denial and put my name down for a lot of stuff (I could have signed up for so much more but I didn’t). I heard a guy’s voice and looked up to see one of the first friends I made from biomed. He wrapped his arms around me and we stood talking. He commented on how different I looked, the shock visible on his face. He couldn’t believe how unwell I looked last time he saw me compared to how I look now. He wasn’t the only person to make this comment. So far everyone I’ve met up with has been like wow… You look like a different person, you have colour and you look SO well! I never understand why people say “I hope you don’t mind me saying” before sentences like that. I feel better. I’m still unwell and battling against some stuff, but last time these guys saw me I was as unwell as I’ve ever let them see me (apart from the occasional hospital visits, during which this particular guy saw a central line in my neck, nearly vomited, looked horrified, and left).
I felt like my health is no longer a barrier because it no longer feels like a problem. This is probably because I have shaken off all thoughts about it and am refusing to acknowledge it. I’ve accumulated approximately a million missed calls from the hospital over the week, a couple of unanswered and unread texts, and an email I refuse to open because those guys aren’t going to ruin my mood and everything right now. I don’t want to go through with their hell on earth treatment plan, and I don’t feel like they are thinking about my wellbeing in (what feels like) forcing me to go along with it. They seem to view me as a personal challenge and I feel dehumanised and meaningless as a result. So I’m done. My brain won’t even go there, I’ve just reached this mental block that is getting bigger and bigger, and it feels so right. I guess my brain is like a little animal just protecting itself from things it knows will hurt it. It’s already wounded and recovering, and its lashing out at things that may jeopardise its chance to feel normal again.
I then went swimming, because I was living in dreamland (from our uni it’s only £1 to get in). I walked through Mile End Park on the way home, feeling surprisingly good (I was feeling the effects, but not as awfully as I have in the past). It was weird to walk through the view that I sit staring at from my window. Emotionally, I felt so much better after my swim. I was refreshed, the slate had been wiped clean, and it was time to face the world again. Of course I signed up for the swim team earlier in the day – last year a guy signed up who couldn’t even swim one 25m length of the pool, and is now competing in an Ironman… There are no limits if you just go for it (this is what I tell myself, as I’m breaking myself to try and feel whole again). The swimming club flyer is now stuck on my wardrobe door. I kinda just like looking at it and reminding myself that one day that may be me.
A friend who I’ve mentioned on here but will not name now, made a very insensitive comment about a very serious issue that they were too self absorbed to understand. Things like that happen a lot with this person, and everything feels like a competition, even health issues (mental vs my physical stuff that this person knows about) are compared and it makes me feel exhausted just enduring that all the time. This person is a very nice person and a very good friend, but I hung up the phone and cried. Because it was about my sister and a huge event she went through (for which there is now a national memorial) when I was younger that is genuinely horrific and awful and wrong, and took a limb and almost her life. And this person once again said they had it worse (I discussed what they thought was worse than an event this country still remembers every year with a couple of other friend and my favourite reaction was this: “NO! That is not the… NO! That doesn’t even compare! How could anyone think that… NO! I can’t even sentence right now! I’m that… NO!”) and failed to understand that it was what had been done that was so awful…
I wanted to go back to Auntie Godmother’s, but I also didn’t want to move. So I stayed put and just stared out of the window.