What are the best kinds of family relationships, you ask? Well, it’s the ones where your Dad says “Oh, Years & Years played live and were on the telly the other day so I recorded it for you”, whilst you are wolfing down a Tikka Masala fish in the back of the car doing 80 down the motorway. This was after I’d been travelling for about 24 hours and still had another 3 to go, it was a long ass journey but the destination (my bed) was well worth it.
As I hauled my case off of the baggage conveyor belt my stomach was flipping and legs were shaking, purely because I knew as soon as I saw my Dad’s face I’d crumble into a million pieces. I was right to think so. I clocked him amongst a sea of fathers, mothers, siblings, aunts and uncles all waiting for their relation to walk around the corner. Just as I thought he would, Dad fell into tears and cuddled me up in his gigantic arms. Within 30 minutes it was like I’d never left, Dad was complaining, swearing and using his selective hearing to full affect.
The first full day of being relatively alive was dedicated to getting absolutely slaughtered. My family do not do roast dinners on a Sunday or go out for afternoon walks, we have and I think we always will use our Sunday leisure time sinking pints and chatting shit. Sink-Several-Sundays (I’ve decided that’s the new title, kind of like Taco Tuesday or Thirsty Thursday), are always so much better when Alan and Emma come out too. Alan is my Dad’s best friend and has been since they were 14, so you can only imagine the copious amounts after banter tennis that is had when they’re together, there isn’t a time where I’ve not had tears streaming down my face from laughter. That Sunday I shared what I had experienced in China to the best of my ability (which is pretty poor because my memory is dogshite), I had to do this a million more times during my stay in England because I bumped into and caught up with a hella lot of people. Perhaps that’s why my voice feels husky, dry and strained because I’ve not shut the fuck up.
We were also joined my Matt and Jack on that particular Sunday, they’re father and son who used to live in England, moved to New Zealand and have ventured back to settle down in Devon. Jan and Liam will join them in September, so they’re currently let loose around the town causing havoc. I’m kidding, but we did go drinking a couple of times during my stay. It was lush to finally get a chance to see Jack again after several years since seeing him last, in the past year or so we’ve spoken more frequently because I have/had plans to head to NZ after China. We’re into the same dirty music and so we’d chat about the kinds of savage nights out we’ve had over the internet, but nothing quite beats hearing them all again in a drunk Kiwi accent whilst you’re stumbling alongside the sea. He’s a super cool guy and admittedly, and I hope without offence, it totally sucks for him because he doesn’t know anyone in Ilfracombe except for me and I don’t even live there anymore.
When you’re in school or university you almost drown in opportunities to socialise – it’s like everyone has their own fishing net, some are bigger than others but, you walk through 18 years of your educational life ensuring people get tangled up in it, some flounce and wriggle away never to be seen again though. For the most part though, that net of people stay with you for life, and despite living in an advanced generation where keeping in contact is quite literally held in our hands, there is nothing quite like human contact with friends and making new ones. Holding out your net in an overfished part of the sea, where you’ve got no experience makes it fucking hard to find catches… and that’s what I worry for Jack. He’s a sound asf guy though, so I just hope he finds his feet quickly and launches himself into socialising, even if Devon isn’t the best place to do so.
Feelings, the romantic-mushy-butterflieswhenyoutthink-vomit kind of fuckers, are like my perspective of water stations during Half Marathons/Marathons. You’ve started the race, maybe a couple of miles in, there’s a lot of energy inside of you so your pace is strong and can envision crossing the finish line with a solid time, you know that stopping at the water station is going to slow you down. You approach 1 quite prematurely in your run and foolishly you take it, you didn’t need it you thought you did but it didn’t add anything to your state at that point in the race.
Other obstacles pop up like slow runners, or NEEDING THE TOILET. I guess in this metaphor is mental health it’s there, it’s niggling away at you and you know you need to address it, if you take another cup of water (or a bundle of feelings) it could make your pace slower but you could go a hell of a lot faster if you just suck it up and deal with it, right? I don’t think I’ve ever actually used a toilet during a race, and perhaps that reflects the fact I’ve not gone out of the way to improve my mental health.
I’m running, a little weaker than before but I’m running, still running… WHOOSH *another water station* WAIT, FUCK I DIDN’T KNOW THERE WOULD BE A WATER STATION HERE BUT THERE IS. I’ve stopped by this point, I’m mindlessly gulping down this cup of water without thinking of the consequences but in that moment it’s just so damn refreshing and important. The water flows through my body, differently to the first time because now I’m like 8 miles in and I actually needed it, BUT there’s the niggling feeling. “Should I have done that?” “Hold it in, god damn it you’re so close!”
Jeeeez what a long winded metaphor, and I think it makes sense. I’m sorry if it doesn’t I get delirious when I’m tired, emotional and travelling 4000 miles across the fucking globe.
That was kind of like a disclaimer for what’s to follow without blunty using names, and lame romanticised language. Monday, ah Monday – I met with another fantastic human ( I’ve learnt that I’m blessed to know a lot of those), who upped the level of fantastic humans I know as the day progressed. We met at lunch time but the hours ran away from us in the blink of an eye, by the time we actually stopped to acknowledge the time we realised 17 hours had passed and yet there were so many unspoken conversations to be had. *
Those 17 hours weren’t divided with phone scrolling, food chomping, series watching or napping like other kinds of relationships – eros or philia. Those 17 hours were overflowing with nostalgic reminiscing, painful laughter and deep heart-to-hearts, something I’d never even imagined to have with a guy. I was so engrossed in absolutely everything he was saying and I knew that was reciprocated too. After months of using the time difference window to chat over the internet, you’d think maybe we’d have ran out of things to talk about but that certainly wasn’t the case. I like talking in metaphors and similes as you can probably tell, one more though I promise (maybe). This whole day/situation/feeling was like the emotional version of that first FRESH intake of English sea air after months of having toxic polluted oxygen swirl around my lungs.
However, just as the famous song by Avril Lavine was written “He’s just a boy (who’s going to Uni) and I’m just a girl (who is going back to China), can I make it any more obvious (that this was the worst timing in the world)?”
*it was at this full stop I figured I should break my visit to England into 2 blog posts, I’ve still got to write about the Wedding. The wedding deserves it’s own space I think.
P.s. Yes, I may have silently sobbed on the bus after saying goodbye, after what I thought would be the only time I’d see him during my stay. Yes, it was exactly how you’re imagining – head on chin, tears rolling down my cheeks and sad songs playing through my headphones. Who decided to go and see Sam Smith in October? This girl.
P.p.s It was just terrible timing.