Episode 4 – Support structures, sunbeds and bras
This morning started so well. I had a lovely dream, wow, he was hot, and what seemed like a good idea for a TV series emerged from it. Also some decorating ideas for a bathroom -must remember those mint green subway tiles: they were less Eightiees than they sound I promise. For some reason, I was preoccupied with the species of a monkey that ended in –acque. I argued with ElsaDaughter over it and pestered a friend who wants to be Sir David Attenborough when he grows up. Macacque. I knew I hadn’t made that up.
I want to walk out. I can’t handle the stress of being at home with my family. My Lady, the Queen’s Mother is stressed with the dogs, her muffled phone, the floors, dinners… everything. It feels like it’s my fault and I’m being blamed by the world. I’m trying to be upbeat. I even tried a workout to try vent. It’s lashing rain today and I’m waiting for my phone company to call me back – twenty minutes she said, an hour ago – so I didn’t go for a run. I could have but I didn’t. I think I’m afraid to be seen. Seen out running while you’re off sick from work, “Sure there’s nothing wrong with her!” So I planked, ran up and down the stairs and did some body weight exercises. Sven (eldest puppy) ran up and down with me with a slipper in his gob. You couldn’t make this shit up.
My phone company. I lost it while on the line to them. Yer wan was actually getting onto me about not contacting them sooner. This isn’t Live Line so I’m not going into the details. But my god, I lost it. You’d think she’d just run over my pet hedgehog on purpose and used his pricks for her hairbrush. Pricks.
My Lady, the Queen’s Mother called the programme director of my college course earlier to explain why I’ve gone AWOL and left her a voicemail. She’s just called back the landline here and I answered it thinking it might be the return call from aforementioned phone company. I stupidly asked if I could take a message saying I was her daughter not recognising the good doctor of education’s voice. Fuck. Now she’s going to think I’m a right weirdo not talking to her myself. Maybe I could invent a sister who sounds exactly like me and who is also at home on a Tuesday afternoon for no apparent reason. I do have an imaginary sister as it happens. But more of Áine later.
John Knox keeps calling me. I can’t handle him right now; fussing over my car insurance and sick notes. STOP! LEAVE ME ALONE! I want to go to bed. My own bed. Cocooned by the white noise of Dublin traffic that comforts me so. It’s a secure feeling to be surrounded by people in a city without anyone knowing you’re there. Here, everyone knows where I am and who I am and what I am. A fucking walking timebomb today. Clearly this is what the psychiatrist meant when she said I don’t have the same capacity to regulate my emotions as other people. A phone bill sends me into a boiling mass of angst. Irrational Dotty is a pain in the arse.
If Aine were here she’d know what to do. She’s a paediatric A&E doctor. She is so steady and solid. She’s the real sister. No nonsense. She’s in charge of her department, I don’t know what the title is. Transponster maybe. She’s never had a weak moment in her life. She’s never had to grit her teeth and smile and pretend to be ok till she slumps down behind the click of the front door – melting into a pool of pathological fear of having to go back out there. Aine. Of course she’s not real. I don’t hear voices. All three psychiatrists were eager to know if I hear voices. No. Only the ones telling me to cop the fuck on and be more like Aine. God I wish I was Aine, imaginary Aine. She’s more real than me.
Aine has long full red hair that tends to frizz up a bit. It’s straight but it needs a fair dollop of serum to keep it under control. She’s very outdoorsy and an athletic size twelve. Fairly hippy (as in child bearing hips, not the Woodstock going kind, she has no time for holistic horseshit) , like her little sister (me, obvs, with hips, not a hippy), but it suits her. She never wears heels and she’s usually tanned and freckled and effortlessly glowing. She never has to try to be beautiful or intelligent or smart: she just is. She’s so earthy you could grow flowers in her hair but she’d hate that because she hates hippies and hipsters. She takes no crap from men and her career has just happened to her, because of her. Her bills are always paid on time and her car insurance documents are displayed correctly, John Knox is most pleased. She never avoids a phone call or dodges an old friend on the street, afraid of having to don her social mask. She doesn’t know what it is to let My Lady, the Queen’s Mother and John Knox down because she never has. Everyone loves Aine. Life is easy with Aine.
“She’s cracked! Day four and she’s cracked! I bet her mam is on the phone to the men in white coats as I read!” No, I’m not, honestly! Aine was the product of a game with ElsaDaughter a few years back. We were walking into town and one of us randomly started “Imagine if…”. “Imagine you could eat only five things for the rest of your life what would they be?”. “Imagine if you could invite five people from any time in history to dinner, who would they be?” “Imagine if you could have written any three books what would they be?” “Imagine if…” – you get it by now. It’s fun, you should try it. It’s great for long car journeys. So that’s how Aine came to be immortalised as the sister I never had and the woman I would never be: “Imagine you had a sister or brother…” And Aine, the unwittingly perfect bitch was born.
I’m still waiting for Snotty Phone Company Woman to call me back – two hours later. I still haven’t had a shower today, ugh, gross, especially after been chased up and down the stairs by a slipper wielding Lurcher. I have had dinner however, even though it’s only four o’clock. It’s that weird “down the country” thing where older people eat their dinner at lunchtime while we city slickers snack al fresco on falafels and sushi. The dinner is ready for takeoff by one daily here. Which means by seven, when ElsaDaughter and I usually eat dinner, I’m ready for the kitchen floor and the bran flakes.
It’s now ten past seven in the evening and no word from Miss Attitude up in Phone Company Land. Do I bother phoning them back myself and stressing myself out further or do I leave it till tomorrow? Leave it I think, seeing as I’ve managed to turn the day around. I waited around as long as my nerve endings could stand it and then I bit the BPD bullet and headed out with ElsaDaughter. She’s my little support structure in Converse. I went and used a sunbed… DON’T JUDGE! The weather is dismal today. The first day in weeks it’s been bad. And my skin is terrible. Massive breakout. “Your face’ll be a lot worse if you use that!” I know. But god, it was lovely. I needed to get the heat into my bones. Get those Aine freckles blooming. It was bliss, six minutes of (fake) sun and silence. But then I started counting down the last two minutes and clock watching, “Don’t be over! I’m not ready to go back out there! Keep me here in the (fake) sunshine!” But then the light went off and I was back in almost-October Ireland.
I wasn’t ready to go home and I had limited clothing here. I love clothes. I hate shopping. But I got paid today so… now I feel guilty. I spent one hundred and twenty Euro on myself. I haven’t done that in ages. I did buy My Lady, the Queen’s Mother a blouse though. And now I’d bet at some point during the month I’ll have to go begging my poor mother or use John Knox’s card (more fool him giving me his details) for an electric top up or petrol, or groceries. But My Lady, the Queen’s Mother said I was right to do it and mother knows best after all so get back into your corner Mr. Subconcious Guilt Trip. I can never just say “Mother knows best” anymore, I automatically sing it in the Tangled tune, Mother Gopperth as I repeatedly erringly call her. Leinster and Strictly, my escapism.
I had planned on buying comfies: track pants and t-shirts but then I caught sight of myself in a mirror, still in my shorts and runners and Leinster hoodie (I am Mother Gopperth) and no makeup and scraggy hair and I thought, wow, you are even less glamorous than Dot Cotton. Do something. So I bought nice things, not going out things but nice everyday things. And flat shoes. I’m not quite back to my heel wearing self.
So at least I’ll look like I haven’t just fallen apart.
So then I came home, unpacked my treasure haul, lit scented candles (guess where My Lady, the Queen’s Mother bought them? In bulk!) and I had a shower. Never underestimate the power of a good wash. I don’t like baths – a good friend of mine once proclaimed it was like swimming in your own dirt and that put me off the long soak forever. I think my brain has been swimming in its own grimy build-up of emotional strain and now it needs a good cold shower. Now here I am, sitting in my new jumper with my new tan pumps and my hoopy earrings typing in the kitchen. All dressed up and nowhere to go. I’m off to Tesco to buy a new bra. Let’s keep the theme of support structures going.