It was my birthday on Saturday. And boy-oh-boy, was I dreading it.
The older I get the less mature I seem to be- I'm living my life backwards. At 19 I had a job that was destined to become (shock! horror!) A CAREER, a long-term boyfriend I thought I'd marry, a flat of my own, my own brand-new car and private health insurance. NINETEEN.
You think I'd let MY nineteen year old daughter shack up with her bloke? IF SHE IS ANYTHING LIKE YOU JUST TRY AND STOP HER, says Mama. I remember when I was in the same neck of the woods as my cousin and his new baby and stopped by to say hello. His baby-mama was lay in bed with the newborn, and when I walked in I said to her as way of introduction, "I bet you feel like a bloody giraffe in a zoo with everybody coming at staring at you both," and this new mother looked at me gratefully and said excitedly, "How many have you got then?" NINETEEN. I sounded like I had my own kids! I WAS 19!
The day before my 24th birthday I had to borrow bus fare off of my mother to afford to meet a student friend from university in town.
Do you ever get the feeling that something in your life went a little wrong?
To ease the pain of growing older, and most definitely not wiser, Mama threw me a little afternoon tea party in the garden and invited The Clan. They seem to continue to be amused by me, and never disappointed. They even read TALLULAH! and forgave me for all of it's smut and distaste. I think they love a bit of tits-and-arse talk really.
It was a really lovely afternoon. There was Pimms. There was sunshine. THERE WAS CAKE.
"Verbose Auntie, this is Jess, Jess- this is Verbose Auntie."
"Nanna, this is Jess. Jess! This is my Nanna."
"Auntie Shirley, Jess. Jess, Shirley."
"This is Jess."
"BLAHBLAHBLAHBLAH etc. etc. etc."
She had a lot of aunties to meet.
Thing is, all the aunties wanted to know how we knew each other. I lie not, I think I must have told the story over ten times, and after the third time it started to sound like I was introducing my new girlfriend to the family:
"Well, we met through a mutual friend. Actually, you've probably heard me talk about him. Calum? You know, my gay friend Calum. Well anyway. I was sat in a cafe having a cuppa tea and this beautiful, dark-skinned, black-haired girl approached our table and started chatting with him. And as she stood by our table, I just watched her mouth move as she spoke and was mesmerised. Everything she said, every opinion she had, was mirrored to my own. It was like ME, but in her body. And I just thought, 'I've got to get to know her' so I asked to interview her for a Radio Four piece I was working on, and... well. The rest is history. I knew I needed her in my life. We're moving in together in September, when I'm back from Italy... We're so excited!"
And then, helpfully, Mama explained,
"I remember when she came to visit us after they had met, and she was so excited about this girl and talk, talk, talked about her!"
By the end of this long-winded explanation, most just sort of muttered a, "Well. All the best to you!" because at the end of the day I don't think there is much I could do to shock my family. If I was in love with a girl, then that's just so Laura. I'll grow out if, they think. It's in a similar vein to when they ask me, "So are you still a vegetarian then?" as if, after fourteen years of resisting a bacon sandwich in cheap white bread after every hangover I'm going to suddenly turn around and declare, "Oh yes, that's right. I'm a grown up now. Pass the filet mignon please."
I'm not in love with My New Friend Jess. I don't want to marry her and give her my babies and cultivate a vegetable patch with her. I promise. It just sort of sounds that way is all.