When my alarm went off at 8am this morning I was faced with a dilemma: to 9am lecture, or not to 9am lecture? This question was answered for me when I was swiftly taken hostage by the comfort of my bed, and proceeded to hit the snooze button on the five separate alarms I’d set until I had 4 minutes until the lecture started… And happily settled back off to sleep instead. From those that went to the lecture, I’ve heard that this was a good call. I was not the only one that missed it.
I was waiting to meet with SC Uni Friend, but she wasn’t replying to my messages and by the time late morning arrived I was going stir crazy stuck in my studio/room/whatever you call it. So I took myself to Stratford Westfield shopping centre, and treated myself to a sourdough pizza. It looked amazing, but it was a disappointment compared to last time.
I spent the rest of the day sort of re-living my childhood. I wanted the gingerbread that I used to get when I was a little kid, so I found it and ended up accidentally buying a load of shopping that weighed so much I had to just wait for SC Uni Friend to rescue me at the tube station nearest my accommodation and help me carry it home.
And then I continued to re-live my childhood. I’ve been doing that a lot lately, clinging to the past, to familiarity – because familiarity feels safe and comforting and everything in the past (although there are some truly horrific events) I managed to get through, and somehow coped with better than current reality. It started with the fact that when I went home I put on the beaten up old trainers (seriously these things should go in the bin) that I hadn’t put on my feet since I was in my last year of sixth form but until that point had worn every day for two years. Since then, they are all I’ve worn. They are familiar. They remind me of a time that sucked (honestly I’ve almost died in those shoes, been suicidal in them, been bullied and torn apart and overwhelmed and even ran away in those shoes…), but that I was able to live through and beyond. They remind me of an unmeasurable and unbearable unpleasantness that I learned to deal with – one that I know how to handle now. And today that desperation to cling to things like that spread to the places that I went.
When we were younger, my parents used to drive us to London for the day and we’d go round the museums. Honestly, it was my FAVOURITE thing to do. So my friend and I headed to the Natural History Museum together, and it hadn’t changed at all, other than the ice rink and Christmas decorations now outside. It was amazing to be in this little bubble of my 11-13 year old life. The exhibits were all the same. The same huge blue whale hung from the ceiling and we both hunted for it for ages until we found this room that we remembered from our childhoods and we sat and just stared at this whale, at all these things I remembered.
I spent ages hunting for the real human brain and spinal cord that I used to just stare at. I mean… now I can say that I’ve touched them in an anatomy lab, but back then it was so fascinating to me, and I wanted to go back and see it, even though it was less awe inspiring to look at now. We passed the giant model of a cell that my mum made me take a photo of before my GCSEs started. As a family we’d go to a different section on each visit so I’d only seen bits from each section once but it was just like I remembered only… Underwhelming now. When I was 11-13, I knew none of it, so it was interesting and informative and it blew my tiny mind, quenching a thirst for knowledge. Now, I’ve done all the human biology to degree level – SC Uni Friend and I could have written the exhibit. It was so sweet to think about how amazed I used to be by it all – it was my old heaven on earth, and being back in the scene of such memories… it was like this big emotional comfort blanket.
You know you’re a biomedical science student when you look at the human skeleton they have on exhibit (very basically labelled like this is your thigh bone. It’s very long) and immediately notice that it is the skeleton of a female… Then begin to discuss this with your friend, who agrees. It was like being face to face with the evolution of myself in that moment right there, and also like standing next to my 11 year old self. I found the exhibit I used to LOVE really boring and basic because I knew it all in so much more detail, but it was good to know that that thirst for knowledge I had at that young age had led somewhere – I was doing a degree in a subject that even then I loved.
We hung around and said hi to the statue of Charles Darwin sat looking over the entrance hall, and took photos of the big dinosaur that is soon going to be moved but that has been there FOREVER. And it was so nice. It was nice. It was like travelling back in time to before the worst – before the PTSD and the starting to almost die every few weeks and the hospital admissions that lasted years. Plus, I found that now that I’m older, I’m so much more interested in the science and anatomy of the other animals in the other exhibits, and the evolution of modern species and just… yeah. It was cool.
We waited for it to get dark and then decided we should probably leave, mostly because Pizza Express does 40% off for students on Mondays and Tuesdays and we refused to miss out on that deal.
Like I said, we’d decided we wanted pizza, so we headed for London Bridge. And I was so mortified that I wanted the ground to swallow me whole.
I got on the tube, and I walked to hold onto the rail, and this young woman gave me her seat. Because she thought I was pregnant. Now this is funny. SC Uni Friend thought it was funny and laughed and kept referring to me as “you two” but it really, really wasn’t funny to me. I’m a 20 year old girl, full of insecurities by nature, particularly surrounding my health. I laughed but inside I crumpled and screamed and tore myself apart and took knives to the walls of my mind and let the blood pour. Inside I hurt.
But… I did look pregnant. I mentioned in another post that my legs were extremely swollen and I couldn’t really breathe… And that situation remained but had slightly improved this morning. As I went through the day, my heart rate got faster and faster, it began to ache, I got breathless, and my usually concave stomach (not flat, if stand side on then after my ribcage my stomach sort of goes in by a good couple of centimetres, because I’m hideously, unhealthily thin at the moment) had become convex. Fluid is pooling EVERYWHERE and it seems to be getting worse. I looked like my aunt had until she gave birth. Seriously. My ribs are usually further forward than my stomach, and today my stomach ended up further forward than my boobs. Look.
Anyway the pizza was amazing, and I got a few awesome photos of Southwark Cathedral, and awesome panoramic shots of the Thames and Tower Bridge and the Shard from London Bridge. The Christmas trees at the top of the Walkie Talkie building were so huge we could see them from ground level. London is really getting into the Christmas spirit and… It’s a little bit magical.
What’s also magical is that my family friend from Reading messaged me earlier today for a chat and asking to meet over Christmas. This evening my old friend from sixth form who was like a brother to me (honestly, we saw so much of each other and I helped him through a lot and we’d be on the phone for HOURS all the time) but then got a girlfriend and forgot I existed, messaged me for the first time in a year asking to meet up over Christmas. And Uni Babe has invited me to her family Christmas party on the 23rd. So that’s nice. Especially the two friends I haven’t heard from or seen for ages – familiarity. Old times. What my brain wants right now, to hide, to crawl back in time to before this.
I saved the best part of today until last.
In the very early hours of this morning our family was given an early Christmas present that nothing could top – a new family member, new life. My uncle, who has lived in Hong Kong since he was just older than I am now, welcomed his new baby daughter into the world with my aunt via a pre-planned c-section. I slept from 4pm-9pm yesterday, and woke to see a post online stating that my uncle (who never feels anything really) was “feeling blessed” above a status which read T- 2 hours 9 minutes.
I fell asleep before those two hours passed, but woke to a picture of an ADORABLE baby girl with a lovely name, and instantly I wanted to hold her and tell her happy birthday and say hi to the youngest grandchild from the oldest grandchild. It was just a happy day for our family. My granddad, who has social media but never uses it, shared the photo of his newest granddaughter, and it melted my heart a little (also because the caption was “h” because he seriously has no idea what he’s doing). My mum messaged me and eventually called me because she was so happy. My uncle called everyone… We all talked over social media… It was just nice. So anyway, I got a new baby cousin, and sometime soon I’m going to be so happy about that.
Does anything else matter?