For a place and for a time.
Maybe it’s because tomorrow I have my first exam since my GCSEs.
And I feel clueless and like I’m fifteen again.
[Only that time, I was too ill for school, I was right to be nervous and afraid of my exams. I came back that day to quietness. God knows what was happening to me. Ten years later and I still don’t know. I managed a few months, here and there, once got applause when I came in, 90 minutes late, but I did. I took a proud bow. By that time they had stopped chastising me, and my name no longer adorned most columns of the school’s late book in the secretary’s office. I didn’t need notes from my mum anymore. Just showing up once in a while was good enough. Eventually, everybody stops asking. You hear from the lower forms you’ve slipped into mythology without even realising it].
And it’s too quiet here, in my adult life, with my dad dead now and my mum very quiet on the phone. I miss the sound of them fighting.
Upstairs’ television blaring down fills me with nostalgia. Except it used to be downstairs blaring up.
Exams were the times when there was hot tea on the fire place in the morning.
I know I have family here in London. Robert and the cats are my family, too.
Robert introduced me to his grandparents over the weekend. I was in a family photo, looking more adult than I have ever done. I want to introduce him to my granny, she’s the only one left. And she’s brilliant. At daddy’s funeral, at his graveside, she asked me if I believed in god. I told her honestly no. She told me she didn’t either but she hoped there was a hell so Iain Paisley would burn in it.
I know I tell that story a lot, but it says all you need to know about my granny. That, and when I went to hospital a year or two ago, we traipsed the ward with our cold coffee to visit her in intensive care after a major operation. She wasn’t there; we thought the worst. We had tears ready to ambush the poor nurse. But she’d been moved- two days in, not weeks- to the normal ward, and was sitting up.
But I miss my mum and my brother and sisters.
I haven’t seen them in ages because I couldn’t get home for Christmas. How can Belfast feel like the other side of the world sometimes? How can fifteen seem so present when there is nothing in my earthly possession but my nervousness and faulting memory that is from the years?
I miss my dad. I miss his grave, and like missing him when he was alive, I’m afraid to go home and see it in case its in an even worse state than when I saw it last.
I miss home!
Tender and tired. Goodnight.