Thursday Night/Wednesday Morning – Somewhere over the Atlantic
Ever notice how, on transatlantic flights on newer aeroplanes with individual screens fitted to the back of the seats, the GPS points out the geographic locations of shipwrecks? I have no fear of flying but this can’t do much for anyone with anxiety. “Oh look, at that lovely ocean underneath you and now think of all the dead bodies down there since all those awful sinkings happened. Enjoy your flight. We’re glad you’re here’.
Gee, thanks American.
I can’t sleep on this plane which is unusual because put me in a moving vehicle and normally I’m out like a light, sometimes even when I’m driving. I also have a pain in my arse running down my left leg from sitting pretty much all day and I can feel my calves, ankles and toes inflating as if I’m eight months pregnant.
I enjoy travelling, in fact, I love travelling. I would travel forty weeks a year if I could. That’s one thing I’ve discovered about myself this summer: I’m not a homebird. Of course, I already knew this long ago but there wasn’t an ounce of homesickness in me for the last two months. There was nothing about Ireland that I missed, no scenery that I pined for or traditional food that I craved. I guess that’s a bit sad in a way, to feel rootless. It’s difficult to know if I’ve always felt like that and I think I have or rather if it’s merely another tenet of the depressive mind to feel a bit like a kite attached by the finest of threads to places from where you could walk and never look back, not like Lot’s poor old wife.
What I don’t enjoy about travelling are the physical symptoms – fuzzy head; dry eyes and nose; nose bleeds; pregnancy feet; pale, flaky skin; that feeling of grime all over your hands and that general nasty, dirty sensation after being couped up in a metal tube with a couple of hundred equally germy passengers and meandering your way through airports, which, like doctors’ surgeries and hospitals are just giant, publically funded centres for disease proliferation.
I’m beginning to suspect a blood clot going down my leg now. It’s pretty sore. But I guess if it were a blood clot I’d be in a lot more pain and unable to type. I should go walk around a bit.
I was tempted, for the briefest of moments, to order an alcoholic drink earlier. What is it about free drinks? They are so tempting. I can see how paying nine dollars for a gin and tonic could quench your imagined thirst. It’s that funny old thing of being afraid of missing out. I believe the kids refer to it as FOMO. Coz of course, YOLO. I wonder if language will one day be reduced to a series of acronyms. Words will be something archaic only to be discovered on ancient relics called computers and smartphones. We’ll all have tiny microchips in our retinas that do everything for us including transmit seemingly random groupings of letters that are capable of evoking the deepest of emotions in the generation of RIUDS (Retina Implanted Ultimate Digital System).
Anyway, I didn’t have a drink. Why am I afraid of alcohol? What’s so wrong with having a drink? “Why don’t you have a drink? Go on, sure have one, they’re free!” Because alcohol makes me feel like shit! Not shit in an emotional wreck, wine and anti-anxiety meds combination but in a physical “I think I’m going to throw up, gross taste in my mouth, headache/potential migraine alert, sleepy/groggy way”. It’s not worth it. There is nothing about alcohol that appeals to me anymore. It’s the last thing I’d think of doing if I were celebrating or comiserating with my self on yet another failing. I’m glad I didn’t have a drink just because they were free. I had a brownie instead.
Which leads me onto another tenuously linked topic of my weight. I’m eating very well: lots of fruit and veg and seeds and water. But I’ve been having my treats too. Cory Brooker, the New Jersey Senator, has been Instagramming his No Sugar diet of late. He planned to do ten days but now he’s talking about pushing it out to a month. I’d like to try it. I don’t know if I could because I have a sweet tooth from growing up in a house where scones, cake and tarts were fresh baked every day and you always had something nice with your tea. Actually, I can’t even give out about the tea in America since I found a concession inside the grocery store HEB that sells Blue Assam Mist loose by the pound. I’ve been working out with my trainer friend and my cousin who’s entering into a new chapter of her sports and fitness career (I’m excited for her) and I’ve been active: although not running much in the heat. I ordered some workout equipment for myself online on Tuesday night so that it will be delivered not long after I’m home. A balance board; dumbells and a yoga mat which should be enough to follow the FitLife (that’s the company of my trainer friend, Cruella de Fitness Freak –she’s actually super nice, and funny and now my cousin) workout videos online and by Facetime. They’ve just gone in together and they’re multinational already with a dedicated fanbase in Ireland. And while they’re all working out at 6 am, it’ll be noon for me so I can escape the Red Eye Workout.
I got onto that paragraph because I was thinking about my weight. Specifically, I was thinking about my mother seeing me with more weight on than in a long time. I don’t know why I thought of that. It’s been a funny old time being away from my mother all summer. I know it’s difficult for her when we are so far away especially as up to five years ago, we had always lived just a five minute drive from her if not in the same house.
Incidentally, we have the loveliest flight attendant called Michael on this American Airlines flight. He has a gentle voice and a bushy grey beard and nice eyes. He’d be perfect for my mother.
My daughter is now watching The Great Gatsby, again. I love that kid.
In being away from my parents I’ve been thinking about my own relationship with Scandi and how it is changing and moreover, how it will alter into something unrecognisable over the next few years. This might sound completely pathetic but I think it’s only over the last few weeks that I’ve realised, as in fully consciously become aware of the fact that my beautiful little golden haired chatterbox will not always live with me. What?! Everyone warns you that it goes by in the blink of a sleepless eye but I just can’t get it into my denial brain that she is fifteen, has three years of school left and then I won’t get the Children’s Allowance for her anymore. How in the name of gripe water did that happen? And how am I going to cope without being her mammy on hand twenty four hours a day? When we’re not together, we’re texting but over the next year who knows? Don’t get me wrong, watching her grow up is a joy and it’s exciting. There’s something I wouldn’t have been able to say last September. But it is: I’m delirious with anticipation watching the woman she is becoming but yes, of course, if I could go into slo-mo mode I would. But this summer, which I’m making out to be some sort of prolonged, solar powered epiphany (which it kind of was) has clarified what I need to do and that is to let her be. I had caught myself micromanaging her life as a Mother is wont to do when her child needs guidance but she’s fifteen and yes, she will still benefit from my guidance (or will she?!), advice and if necessary, which it never really is, my disciplining. But I have to let her be her. And I have to accept that I am fading in influence in her life socially and that’s ok. She spent the whole summer with me, and our extended family of course, but she most likely won’t want to spend that much time on vacation with me ever again.
You’re such a feckin eejit, remember I’m not the ‘too cool for school kid’ you were. I like travelling and tbh idc who with.
And that makes me sad. I see all my cousins having their firsts with their kids and my kid’s firsts are done, except when it comes to first drink, first serious boyfriend, first car, first time travelling out of the country without me… and they are all more scary firsts than first step and first word.
So I’m trying to look at the other mothers in my life and learn from how they’ve handled their daughters growing up. I don’t have a lesson, a conclusion or an edict by which to steer myself or other mothers. I’m just going to try not to make her feel guilty for being her own woman and doing what she wants to do and make sure she knows she can tell me anything.
In acknowledging all that, my kid de-kidding, it seems timely that I start building a proper, sustainable life for myself which can exist alongside my role as a single parent and can outlast my chick fledging. It’s a weird thing to consider and I can’t help but feel guilty that I should ever even suggest living somewhere other than where Scandi is or having a life that doesn’t revolve around her. I’m curious to know if other mothers, single or co-parenting, feel like this? i like her being the centre of my little universe but I have to let her drift into her own orbit. It’s a very tricky business trying to re-establish yourself as an individual when you’ve been the commanding officer in your two troop regiment.
I left off at this point and dozed on the plane for a half hour, fitfully and in fear of losing my leg to DVT. Is that an age thing? your legs swelling grotesquely on long haul flights? I have just discovered her addition to the text above, in bold. See what I mean about acronyms.
I have my dogs back. it’s now just after midnight on Saturday, I think. So it’s Friday evening in Texas. So we’ve had about three hours’ sleep in thirty six is hours. I’m overtired now and a bit mentally wired. My poor uncle, Tom Selleck, ended up in hospital today and I have NEVER seen him sick so it was a ll a bit of a dramatic return. Thankfully, he is fine. Or so he says. I’m considering calling the nurses’ station and posing as his GP just to make sure he’s not doing the typical thing of letting on to be grand.
It’s been a funny old day. there are few words that can adequately capture the sense of otherness you feel when you’ve returned home from somewhere completely different in climate and culture. The physical disparities, like feeling the goosebumps jump off your skin when you step into the jetway in Dublin Airport’s vagina shaped Terminal 2, soon ebb to be replaced by the sensibility of atmosphere. Describing the atmosphere of a place – a country, a town, is not something I’m going to try to do right now but I would love to know if a place can have an aura or your own aura is what you see and feel projected onto the walls and fields and sky. I’m sure today was a wonderfully positive day of belonging and familiarity and contentment for many with whom I crossed paths, or hit with my gargantuan luggage collection but for me it was a day of fitting myself back into a cool, slatey disappointment of a day. I guess it takes a while to readjust, to rep itch your voice and retune your accent; to de-American summer your wardrobe and toque converting currency in your head while trying to figure out what time it is, and more importantly, what meal is next.
So far, though, I’ve done ok today. Better than I had expected. I even managed to get my UPC reconnected and my doctor’s appointment done all while remaining chatty and openminded about the coming days (I’m not get at week planning level yet).
There are most likely tonnes of typos in here and masses of editing I’d love to do but I’m jet lagged (which is just about the yuppiest excuse ever for poor writing). There are a thousand things I’d like to write about from my summer but I’m going to indulge in my Parks and Recreation obsession, two fig rolls and go to sleep with my now giant snuggly puppy and try to remember where I am when I wake up on my mother’s couch in the morning.