The holiday season is officially over when it doesn’t feel right to watch Christmas specials of Only Fools and Horses. The Trotter boys are out of their element, trying to strike it rich in exotic locales, and the Peckham flat is too far away for things to feel normal. Still, watching them makes me miss the UK more than ever. I’ve taken to episodes of Sherlock to get my dose of London nights until I can find a way to make it over there again.
Pointer of quarry, tamer of cats.
Over here, it’s been a faithful Canadian winter. Bouts of varied snowfall, record-breaking lows, and a spot of freezing rain here and there. My guitar must be achingly dry as the modest humidifier helplessly fails to maintain balance against the constant churn of the furnace.
I’ve been picking her up again, rebuilding my blisters and re-learning old songs. Sometimes I wonder how I was ever able to play certain passages, but knowing I have before makes it easier the second time around. This time it feels a little different though. I have a better reach and a more confident picky, along with some new pains that have found their way into my hands.
The cold that permeates the house means Dolly prefers sleeping in her bed over any one spot, and I can carry her around with me from room to room to keep me company. Byron is rarely far away. Even though he’s not as affectionate as Dolly, he’s still my cat in the way he comes to walk on me when I wake, and the ritual playtime we have after teeth are brushed.
With the cats forming a little nest wherever I go, and the view of ice and snow just outside the window, I have little reason to leave the house nowadays.
When Karen’s at yoga, Aaron and I take turns cooking dinner and playing with Ryan and Ruby (read: keeping them occupied and out of trouble). Then we gingerly convince them to eat what they can (good days involve utensils), make sure they’re bathed, and put into bed with a story if they’ve been good. Everything is manageable as one but easier with two, especially when the simple act of getting rice into a child’s mouth can turn into an ordeal.
This is when I get to experience the joys of having children in manageable doses. That means not having to deal with diaper changes, and reading the same 30-word book only four times instead of 400.
The new laptops were presents from Nana and Papa at Christmas. Now they can send/receive e‑mails, and blog about the awesome poop they just took.
Ryan used to be particularly excited to see his Uncle Jeff, leaving Aaron and Karen to wonder what got into him when I was around. Now that he’s a bit older, his face doesn’t carry the same glow when I arrive anymore, and he’s happier to see the marbles I brought. But Ruby is beginning that phase of enamour, and constantly clambering into my lap to involve herself in what I’m doing. Recently she started asking me to carry her (which I’m told means membership in an exclusive club consisting of her parents and me), even though she’s just learned to manage stairs by herself.
They seem to grow by inches every week, and they’ll soon be old enough to take care of themselves. I’ve learned to appreciate the little chances I have to be truly part of a family like this, especially after deciding last year against ever having kids of my own. And I don’t feel the need for children anymore cause this will always be enough.
At some point along the way, I discover that I’m terrible at being alone. I need someone to care for / spoil / love / give my existence meaning. Echoes of a trying childhood I’m just now sorting out. Otherwise, I’m constantly feeling empty instead of fulfilled.
Once a week I’m torn down so I can be rebuilt again, and some days I wonder: what of me will be left?
I’ve been trying to stay vocal about my needs, lest I fall back into old life traps and defence mechanisms. It means I’m still applying lessons learned from last year, still trying to be open even if it means being vulnerable.
As far as I can tell, this has been working in my favour. Otherwise, Seth wouldn’t be coming over on Saturday to teach me how to play the acoustic version of Sean Rowe’s Jonathan, one of those songs I’ve always wanted to learn before I die.
As a side-effect, it’s been a struggle to balance my relationship needs with overstimulation. The other night we smoked an apéritif in the car before spending three hours gorging ourselves on all-you-can-eat sushi, learning that the small but significant privileges of our class come in plates of bite-sized fatty protein made to order. Then we watched the entire first season of Tim and Eric, Awesome Show! Great Job, and played Magic until 4:30 in the morning.
It left me burnt out and I must have lost two days, yet it still feels like I don’t have enough nights like that, sharing real moments with people who don’t perpetually have somewhere else to be or someone else to see. I need more of those times in my everyday life, not just in the days marked on my calendar.