24 September 2014

Staying up

I've been going back and editing some of the blog posts I've made over the last three or four years, to clean up dead links and delete dead photos. As I've read back, I'm amazed at how little changes in what I write and think about, and how much I've internalised as I've gotten older. There's more to share, but it seems like I am sharing less of it. Where are the dieting charts now.

The weekend was full of children, the way weekends are and will be for a while. Mei went to gymnastics, and I stayed home to walk up to the High Street to order new linoleum flooring for the kitchen. I went to the used bookstore and walked towards the university to go to the library and then meet Yoko and the girls. I had run in the morning, so everywhere I passed had the residue of the morning memories when I had pulled on my trainers at 6 and set out to run. I had gone all the way to the city centre and then come back on the canal, getting stuck at a barrier and having to go back. I got home just before 8 and had run a half marathon slowly, but to the end at least. I drank coffee and waited, as I do every morning, for the first sounds from upstairs.

On Sunday, we had two birthday parties, the first at a farm near Coventry and the second, in the evening, at a pub in Harborne. The kids spent the day overwhelmed with happiness and energy, running from thing to thing. Pigs and guinea pigs and ponies. We walked out into a corn field and picked corn too — it was so fresh and sweet that when the girls turned away, I ate it off the stalk.

Then to the pub, and the ball pit. Yoko and I and one of mothers sat and chatted, as I always do with everyone I meet, about options. Our life narrative, it seems, gets people to think about stability and movement and mobility. Where will the girls grow up, how had they adapted.  I felt proud talking about them, about Naomi crying at first and then growing strong with each school that she has had to change. She is remarkably strong now.

At that party, everyone got called upstairs to eat, but I was sent away because only 5 parents were allowed in the upper floor. I went back downstairs and imagined the awkward watching which happens at these parties when the children are given their food and are oblivious to their parents standing around, not being allowed to eat until the children declare themselves finished and the mother or father who has paid for the food, grabs a serving dish and offers the leftovers to the parents. We all feign disinterest. It's like Ramadan almost, the parents watching the children eat.

And then we drove home. I had a bit of leftover cake, Yoko cooked and put the girls to bed. I made tea and sat in the front room, in my new office, looking out onto Victoria Rd. One year ago, exactly, I had been looking through bars on the windows of the house in Taman Sri Minang, waiting to hear about a job in Manchester. Everything, this whole universe was imagined, but I wanted it so badly. What I got, what I am getting, is so much more than I wanted . All the burning angry and frustration — the nervousness — feels like it is fading. The edge came off, I feel less caged. I closed the curtains and shut off the light, sipping the tea in the darkness.