9 Years Ago

About this time nine years ago I finally arrived at a budget hotel and was greeted by my very drunk extended family. I had been driven up by a friend in a convoy of SMART cars that were loaded to the gunnels with cakes that Lady M-to-be had finished baking and decorating just that morning.

I was exhausted, not in a great mood because my sugars were low and I was nervous about the day to come.

And yet, here I am still, remembering it all with great fondness with Lady M, and comparing notes on how my daughter was at that very moment keeping her as de-stressed as possible while also sleeping in a pull-out bed that reminded her and the other bridesmaids of a cat bed.

It was, and still is, a weird world. Let’s keep it that way

A Weekend of Celebrations

meWell – an extended weekend really – with a wedding on the Friday and a christening on the Sunday, and now an attempt to take things quietly that I suspect may be slightly doomed. Rather appropriately, the wedding took place in Ashford Library – the one in Kent rather the one just round the corner – and so we braved the bizarre road layouts of that lovely Kent town in search of the B&B.

By far the most confusing element of that journey was trying to find somewhere to park for the B&B. According to it’s address it was meant to be on the High Street, and claimed to have off-street parking. In the event that  actually proved to be a small ramp out the back of the Mecca Bingo, next to a public car park that seemed to have no entrance. Finding our way in to that car park seemed to involve driving widdershins around the block three times, sacrificing a small goat and watching a hidden portal open from behind some trees. Well, perhaps it wasn’t quite that bad; but pretty much every guest we talked to had similarly bemused anecdotes of trying to find a way in – or of encounters with local drivers for whom the Highway Code and road markings were more aspirations than rules.

That hilarity aside, it was a joy to be able to celebrate Matt and Laura’s wedding with them and catch up with friends and family who were also in attendance. A hog roast in a riverside pub: what a fantastic way to spend an early summer afternoon and evening. Returning to our B&B entailed a simple walk along the river and past the station, which was a pleasant stroll in the warm evening air. Despite the town’s clock chiming every quarter hour, we slept well ahead of the journey home.

The christening was also a chance to reconnect with friends – and was in our local Ashford, making it a weekend of two towns if not cities. A quieter affair, it was a nice cap to the weekend, with the added bonus that while holding the baby of honour I didn’t get covered in milky vomit.

That almost sounds like a life goal

 

Trying Something New

The last few weeks have been a fairly non-stop rollercoaster, both physically and emotionally. Even just factoring my life into things, its been hectic. My grandfather’s death was sudden but peaceful – he’d just reached the end of his journey – but the four days of his decline were made worse by the sheer distance between where we lived, and I wasn’t able to say a final goodbye. At the same time, the library restructure has been rumbling along during one of our busiest times of year. I’d contend that either of these stresses would be manageable although difficult on their own. Together, well then things start to creak.

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While the funeral arrangements were being made, we were on holiday. Although Disneyland Paris was an amazing place and we had a great time, the relative stress of engaging multiple languages and generally being around many, many people with different ideas of what constitutes personal space was very draining. At least the train journeys were relatively calm and easy, except where TFL were involved.

And then we have last week. We drove up to Blackpool for the funeral to keep some flexibility of movement, and straight into the water contamination problems they’re still experiencing in the area. The funeral and aftermath were as emotionally charged as you might expect – though fortunately my family are genial drunks when they get together, so other than rambling stories and the occasional bout of falling over things were pleasant enough. You know: for a funeral.

We drove back gently enough, stopping in on the way to visit our favourite Pixie at PhoenixxRising. That was a lovely moment of calm, despite the Blackburn roadworks, and much needed. Once we were home, there was a quick turnaround, a brief morning of getting the Charleesi’s exam results (even though we knew she’d do well, there was still the stress of waiting for them), and we were back on the road.

Now, while there weren’t any water restrictions in Hartlepool, we did find pretty much every roadwork between there and London. Exhaustion was already beckoning. I was the sole usher at the church (the other usher having been promoted to Best Man at the last moment, for reasons that were never explained and from the unspoken grumblings I’m probably better off not knowing). Lady M was chief bridesmaid, and walked her sister down the aisle so that her father (who has mobility issues following a major road traffic incident a few years back) could be involved at the front without risking a fall.

Lady M’s sister has Type 2 Neurofibromitosis, and has also recently been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. The two conditions are interacting with each other aggressively, so she has recently had to start using a walking stick as well. The church made plenty of adaptations (chairs, getting the bride and groom to sit as much as possible during the service) so this wasn’t a huge problem in terms of the flow of the day, but it was still hard for Lady M to see her sister, and by extension it was upsetting for me too. We made the absolute best of it, and steered my parents through some cultural aspects as we went “No mother, don’t start calling everyone ‘pet'”.

We found all the roadworks and the rain on the way back South the next morning. We got home and things started to fall apart. We both suffer, to greater or lesser degrees, from mood swings as part of our respective condition, as does Lady P – and normally one or more of us is in a reasonably good place when someone else is down, and so is able to support, cajole or otherwise kick the appropriate person up the rear end when they’re on a low mood swing. This week, between travel, exhaustion, grief, work and everything else, we all hit a low point at the same time.

So, we’re all retreating a bit, and trying to look out for each other while also fighting our demons and getting our heads straight, oh and getting back to work too. I’ve likened the experience to running along a building, turning a corner and going smack bang into scaffolding. It has hurt, but we’re picking our way through to get back on our feet.

And now it’s payday, I can afford a couple of treats, and I’ve just replaced Lady M’s Hudl with a Hudl2. My gift to myself has been a Bluetooth keyboard and case for my own tablet – and I’ve just written this blog on it. It seems to be working perfectly, which is nice. A new month beckons, with new prospects, options, and hope. What’s the worst that could happen?