I mean, it’s accurate, and yet it’s not. Sounds like I’m going to tell you about my fantastic holiday in Canada, crossing the whole huge place on that whole-huge-place-crossing railway they’ve got, or skiing off into the great white wilderness with tennis-racket-type-things on my feet like they wore in old films, or maybe bumping into Paul Whatsisname that wonderful Mountie-detective-type chap who looked so especially wonderful in those red flannelette Mountie-issue pyjamas…
In fact it’s about Canada coming to me for a week or so in the form of my sister (henceforth S) and brother-in-law (henceforth BIL). I thought rather than trying to write I would try making rough notes as the week went on. I can’t write when there are other people around. I just feel I ought to be making them cups of tea, rescuing them from cats or explaining yet again how the shower works. Constantly. Other people, even Ss and BILs, make me anxious.
They haven’t arrived as yet. It could be any time between now and 10 o’clock this evening. Annoying ex-husband of the lady next door (bald and pointy-headed, like an egg on legs) left his car parked outside my house overnight, in what I think of as my space, though technically it isn’t, and I have been worrying all day about where S and BIL are going to park their borrowed car, and whether I ought to confront egg-on-legs in a brave and feminist manner. But then on what basis? It isn’t, technically, my parking space, just the bit of road in front of my house that feels like mine. And anyway he’d smirk at me. Men always smirk when women confront them. Why not let BIL handle any confronting that may be necessary? Men are so much better at confronting one another, in fact they enjoy it.
But now he’s moved.
But perhaps he’ll come back before they get here.
I went over to see Mum this morning, after our little falling-out last week. I don’t usually hug her (nobody hugged me, much, so I don’t know how to hug people) but I suddenly felt I ought to, so I did. And then I thought I might cry, but I didn’t. I was trying to convey this message – that I couldn’t stay long because S and BIL were due soon, but I would be bringing S over to see her tomorrow, when we could have a longer chat. But she didn’t recognise S’s name, or indeed that I had a S to have a name. I went through all three of us, in date order, explaining that I was the oldest, S was the middle one, and S2 was the youngest. Then she was distraught. Whatever was I thinking? she asked me. I can see her. I can see her now, in her body. It was just her name I lost. Whatever has happened to me?
And then I wanted to cry again, and she wanted to cry, so we did the British thing and had a cup of tasteless tea-bag tea instead, and a lot of chocolate biscuits. And the tea got cold as we tried to think of more things to say, and couldn’t. And then I put all the capital-letter notes I had written in order, and numbered them for her. And then I reminded her I would be bringing S over tomorrow. What day is it today? she asked.
And what day will it be tomorrow?
You put your hands round me, didn’t you? she said.
And then I thought, however difficult it is, I must hug her every time.