Having taken my son to a new activity in a bid to increase his diminishing social circle, I am standing on the peripheral while other parents, who clearly know each other, catch up. I look about deciding who might be my victim, who I might wander over to and attempt small talk. In a week where I feel particularly sorry for myself, I find myself thinking… “Why does it have to be like this”….. why can’t someone, just look over and think that woman and her little boy are new… and just come over. This is something I’ve experienced before, to be frank it’s bloody hard making friends as an older mother in a new city. Everyone told me to rely on school. Well, there is a whole other story. I seem to have stumbled over a school roundly lacking in community spirit. There are literally a handful of other parents in the playground who might, and I emphasise ‘might’, notice if I were alive or dead. That’s enough inappropriate comment on school.
Anyhow, no one comes over and I can’t quite work out who to I might approach with a ‘hello I’m Gemma’ and to quite honest I am out of energy. A short and pleasant conversation with the man running it saves things, a bit. I can’t discount that my child was also particularly difficult and contrary and actually, the whole thing was unbelievably hard work for a Thursday.
The WI was Wednesday night, I didn’t go because it was my birthday and while I was back from the celebrations in time (we three went for pizza). It seemed a bit sad to be going alone to the WI on my birthday. They seem a lovely group of women, however I often find myself sitting on my own. I don’t really know anyone, even after regularly turning up for a year. So I decided to sink my energies into that reliable comfort blanket of social media. Choosing to go to bed early with the ipad. Yes, slightly depressing and perhaps defeatist, like I said, I’m out of energy.
At this point in the post, you may have noticed that I am feeling sorry for myself (did I mention that?). We’ve been here 18 months, and are currently in a trough of low pressure. Expect rain and cloud. Apparently, and this is my previous experience, it takes 2 years to feel settled somewhere. We are 6 months away from that magic moment. Despite the tone of this post, I am optimistic that in the next 6 months, things will come together and I will feel settled. Currently, my bit of the universe has the nature of shifting sands. After the storm I am not sure what shape the dunes will be. The odd paradox is that I/we love Bristol. It is a brilliant city. There is nowhere I’d rather live (except Barcelona after my lottery win). Overall the picture is good, it’s just the detail that needs work. Although at 3 am when I’m worrying about my child’s lack of play dates, it feels more than just detail and I question the wisdom of moving him 150 miles from all that he knew that was good and wondering what if…I hadn’t moved him.
I have an ache to be in my own home and not a rented one. The housing market is against me on this. I have an ever increasing collection of anecdotes broadly titled “ridiculous numbers of sealed bids” and “stupid amounts over the asking price”. Buy me a bottle of wine sometime and ask me. I miss the things we have in storage and a home with roots, our roots.
Overwhelmingly, I want to retreat to the safety of solid ground. I want to head North, to sit in a basement kitchen and drink from favorite mugs. I want to park on a familiar sofa while my son bounces on a trampoline in a garden he has known his whole life. I need to solid ground of two places 150 miles away, the people who get me. Who don’t mind when I talk to much, tell too many boring stories and laugh at my own jokes. Who love me for me and they very much love my boy and I, in turn, love them back. The people, I can doorstep. Who give me much needed perspective on the 3 am worries.
Right now, I’m finding relocating really hard. I want to be able to say “beam me up Scottie” and find myself somewhere else for an hour of so of tea drinking and that soul warming “chicken soup” that comes from “my people”. The places where my boy is safe and comfortable. That is what I am seeking. Those are the places where he is wrapped in a special kind of cotton wool. With the people and their children that are his “family” and that make it “all right”.
When we set out on this adventure, it was about sailing away from the safe harbour. I recognise that the sailing would not be plain. Currently, I am a very weary traveller.