It wasn’t what I’d call a productive day, but it was worthwhile, nonetheless. Early on I decided to make another one of those trips out to the edge of the London Underground network, this time to Uxbridge on the Piccadilly line. I seem to be getting serious about this fantasy of travelling to the end of every line now. Today’s trip was about as interesting as a train journey could be; I’d say the journey to Watford last week was probably nicer, as it was further out in the countryside. The novelty of making a completely random journey wasn’t as great today as it was last week. I don’t think I’ll make any more such journeys until next year.
On the way back I sat opposite a woman and a young boy who were talking about their plans for the Christmas holiday. It became clear that the woman was the boy’s step-mother, as she kept talking about ‘dad’ as if she’d just married him; she also mentioned the boy’s mum a few times. She was asking the boy about stuff he liked to eat, places he liked to go and things he liked to watch on television. It was funny listening to him practise his negative response.
“Do you like milk?”
“Do you like bread?”
“Do you like sausages?”
“Do you like potatoes?”
This went on for a while. Eventually she decided to change the subject, and they got along a lot better after that. They talked about what they were going to do at the weekend; she mentioned taking ‘the dogs’ for a walk and going clay pigeon shooting. It sounded like a fun weekend. I imagine the lucky boy will be staying with his dad and fun new step-mum over Christmas. Other people’s conversations rarely attract my attention in such a way, but this one did because it caused me to think about my own childhood. Seeing kids with their parents always makes me think about my childhood.
When I was a kid, for years I wished that I had a step-family who I could go and stay with during the holidays. More than that, I wished I had an adult in my life who I could go out and have fun with. An adult who I could talk to and relate to. Of course, in adulthood I now have plenty of friends who fill that role, but nothing has yet made up for what I missed in childhood. It was always just me and my mum, and we hardly did any of those things. I have no interest in clay pigeon shooting, but it would have been nice to go on fun day trips to the countryside sometimes. It would have been nice to have exciting conversations about the holidays; it would have been nice to have a pet. It would have been nice to have a normal relationship with either of my parents. As it was, I spent years waiting for the day when my mum told me I’d been adopted, that it had all been a bad mistake and that my real, normal, family were waiting for me in Uxbridge or Watford.
I’m not angry about these things any more, I’m just very sad about it. Until this year I was asking myself nearly every day why I couldn’t have a normal mother who I could talk to about normal things, and a normal father who actually wanted to see me sometimes. I’m not angry about it any more because I know that anger is just a symptom: it’s not the real, deep rooted feeling. That’s loneliness, and profound disappointment. My initial reaction today as soon as those feelings came up was to try and shut them down, but then something told me that I don’t need to shut the feelings down any more. Why should I hide from how I really feel? It’s dawned on me that the reason I’ve probably never dealt with the problem is because I’ve spent so long trying to escape it, out of embarrassment at its existence. Today, for the first time I guess I wasn’t embarrassed by my feelings, and so I’ve let myself feel them all afternoon. If I can sit through them without running away, perhaps I will finally learn to live with them.