Tuesday, August 25

Tearooms In The Rain

IN THE MOMENTS just prior to midnight, before turning thirty, I sit and contemplate the past decade. It is a large amount of time to contemplate. For a minute or two I attempt to think of where I was and where I am, but then I falter and give up.
I thought that this would be difficult, turning thirty, but, to my surprise and to my joy, it has come quite easy. I could almost not have wished for a smoother entry into this next passage of my life; one which I had heard so much about. Indeed a few weeks ago I was having a very hard time: issues arising from my ex’s new relationship, work difficulties, and the more subtle inadequacies of my internal wiring left me in a constant state of misery so deep that I thought I would surely top myself then, if ever. Somehow, I have made it through. Catching my reflection in the shower’s glass-surround, I am witness to the body of a thirty-year-old human being. It is my body and I am aware it is quite the strange thing, but stranger still is it being the same body I have possessed all along; it was this body that was pulled from my mother, this body that ran through fields, this body bullied, this body against girls, this body struggling, and this body reflected back at my in the shower’s glass-surround. My fingers in the small hairs on my chest. It was quite strange.
It was raining this thick, black rain down on everything, unrelenting, so we abandoned the idea of going to the zoo. My mother, my brother’s partner, my niece and I went to a tearoom for lunch. I was happy enough listening to the two ladies in front of me talk, while staring at my niece and picking up all the food she threw on the floor, as though it were some slippery game. She reached out her fingers to me and I pretended to snap at them. She started singing this little song. All of her limbs are very fat, so I call her ‘Lump.’ There are two beautiful women in the tearooms; they have children and are dining with their respective mothers. The rain is rapping against the roof. In the giftshop one of the women bends down to examine the ingredients list on a jar of marmalade. I hold my niece to my ear—‘Would you look at that!’ I say. She starts singing a song again. She sings a song and I carry her around the shop, this lump causing my arms to ache. I find an owl puppet and place it on my hand. She sings a song at the owl but instead of singing a song back the owl puppet just waves its arms. My niece hugs the owl very strongly, right against her face, feeling the quality of the fabric; she sings to the owl and she hugs it very strongly (my hand, too, feeling the hug). I like that hug, it is as much mine as it is the owl’s.
A warm stale air is about the house as the windows are closed to the wind & the rain. I suggest a game of Scrabble to my mother. I put on a pot of coffee—‘Nice coffee!’—and set it up. On the scorecards of old – still in the box, scribbled in various hands, scribbled in various pens – is one that causes me to pause. I hold it up a little and say—‘Ah …’ It was a game between my grandmother, my mother & I. For a second, I worried whether my mother could stand to be reminded of those games we often played together, just the three of us, whiling away an afternoon, each with a drink, making jokes & laughing. ‘Keep that …’ she said, so I put the scorecard back in the box.
‘This is the most British thing ever,’ I say.
‘What is?’
‘This … Tearooms in the rain.’
Seven months and twenty-five days into the year I am quite sure that I dislike it, yet, arriving upon this event, I am uncharacteristically hopeful. Waking up is not so bad. I can deal with this, I think, drying myself off from the shower. I brush my teeth and think that I will have them for some time: stained, chipped, imperfect. ‘I felt like I’d made it through all the shit,’ she said. Rather than feeling as dismal as I had expected, I felt positive. If I have made it through the past seven months & twenty-five days, suffering the loss of my best friend & the death of one of my most loved human beings, then surely I can handle the next ten years. So I face it, these years, this thirty, and go on, go on, go on & on.

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