After what was quite an intense and emotionally draining week, I found myself a bit of a mess. Counting back through my calendar, I realised it’d been more than a month and a half since I’d have a day off. I’m not quite sure how I’d let that happen…partially the freelancing life does lend itself to this masochistic drive: “If I’m not working, what the hell else am I doing that’s worthwhile?”. I was knackered, cranky, starting to hate writing, and the quality of my output was dropping rapidly. I was becoming a bit of a “wah-wah” writer. I needed to get the heck out of London.
So I went home for the first time since Christmas. It’s technically still in London, but we’ll skip over that. Since my parents and grandparents are off on their jollies, there was nobody about, it was just me. “Superb!” I thought. What a joy this’ll be: A riveting book, some wine, and the place to myself. So bloody writerly. But, somewhat inevitably, it was not the romantic, artistic retreat I hoped it would be. I’d only bought a pack of Super Noodles to eat, struggled to get the heating working, and spent a few hours clinging to an old oil heater whilst flicking through a Dashiell Hammet. Eventually I gave up all pretence, cracked open a Fosters and watched Arsenal vs. Bayern instead. My sister came back and offered to take me to visit my cousin sister (We’re all very close so I think of them both as sisters). I nearly turned it down, thinking I should be all Byronic about my evening. Luckily I did not, since this fella was waiting for me there:
Everything you’ve heard from the internet is true, people – no matter your woes, playing with a kitten for an hour or so will cheer you right up. More so than that though, spending time with my sisters like I used to reminded me a little of being younger…less stressed, less selfish, less pretentious, less of a dick in general. They were so pleased to see me it made me wonder how I could ever have neglected my family as heavily as I have in the last couple of years.
Especially since I really admire both my sisters (cousin and actual). They’re both remarkable women who’ve absolutely gone through the ringer and emerged damaged, yes, but strengthened, driven and impossibly loving. Their ability to be hard-headed yet remain compassionate when facing adversity inspires me in the same way my grandparents’ battle to establish themselves in this country does. Any bit of discipline and drive I have comes from realising that writing for a living is a privilege that I need to be worthy of when people like my sisters have struggled far more than I ever have.
It was good to come home and back to a reality and humanity that I used to connect with so deeply. I should do it more. (Though I probably won’t).
Appropriate music klaxon: