'I'm truly quite relieved that we are both leaving this place at the same time,' My Pregnant Friend said to me in the staff room at work. 'For serious, I genuinely question how you function on your own.'
She had just watched me try to peel an orange after lunch. I don't like the white pithy bit- who does?- and so I had decided to peel it with a knife so that I was left only with blood-orangey goodness and didn't have to pick bits out of my teeth before the next lesson. Only, by the time I was finished I was left with an orange the size of a walnut because most of the fruit was still nestled in the skin I had tried to peel off; I had juice in my nostrils and on my arms up to the elbows, and the table was strewn with skin, liquid, and the my tears of frustration.
I CAN'T EVEN PREPARE FRUIT PROPERLY. I lose.
I've backpacked the world, achieved a first-class honours, performed to audiences of thousands (fine. Hundreds.) and yet I still struggle to take a trip to the bathroom without there being a story at the end of it. I can Skype Calum right before bed one night, and by the next morning email him three pages of comedic mishap based on what happened in the ten minutes before I went to sleep.
The most embarrassing part is that honestly? I'm actually trying not to be a screw up. I'm trying really, really hard.
When my friend Alma came to visit, we stood in front of The Pantheon preparing to take photographs and I asked her to hold my bag. I pulled out old tissues and tubs of lip balm and as I reached for my camera the batteries all fell out onto the ground and I had to rummage on my knees in front of the gazillion thousand year-old monument to put my life back together again. And she said, VERBATIM, the exact same thing as My Pregnant Friend: HOW DO YOU FUNCTION?
And as I stood up I got something in my eye whilst almost slipping on the ice, and she shook her head in wonder, and then said it one more time. How?
A trip to the cemetery with another friend ended in mishap as we failed to find the entrance to the gardens. Gardens? Maybe I mean FIELDS OF DEAD PEOPLE. Whatever. Anyway, we walked the perimeter of the cemetery trying to find the entrance and then suddenly heard classical music. I stopped in my tracks.
'Do you hear that?' I said.
'Weird,' she replied.
'Why would they play music in the cemetery?' she asked, and I replied, 'A funeral?'
We stood in silence for a minute.
'But we've come a really long way...' she said, disappointed. 'Could we like, look to see if it is a funeral? Maybe it is just for atmosphere or something.'
'Atmospheric music in a cemetery?'
'I really want to see it.'
Which is how she ended up squatted against the wall of the graveyard with my feet on her thighs and my crotch in her face, as we swayed from side-to-side and I tried to peer over the wall to ascertain if there actually was a funeral, and thus whether we could go in or not, only when she asked me what I could see all I could reply was, 'Urm, green!' which really wasn't very helpful and then it sounded like somebody was coming and then I fell to the ground and hurt my ankle but we had to run away because otherwise we might end up in Italian jail for not respecting the funeral of somebody important enough to be buried to Mozart in the Non-Catholic Cemetery for Foreigners in Rome.
I appreciate that a pertinent Point for Personal Development is working on my inability to let others help me, but the extremes in my life mean that either I need you to the extent whereby I wear your clothes, sleep in your bed linen and use your computer to write blog posts about myself after mine got stolen, or I get mad that you dared hold the door open for me when we met for coffee because what are you trying to say? That I can't open my own door? That I'm not smart enough to recognise where the handle is and the motion required to result in the hinges moving? IS IT BECAUSE I AM A WOMAN? BECAUSE I DON'T NEED ANYBODY EVER YOU KNOW. I DO JUST FINE ALONE.
And then I can't remember which direction we came from and so have to apologise for my sassy pants in order to get you to tell me how we get home.
As I sit in my classes of five year old children I see the similarities. They will refuse my help in cutting out Simpsons characters for a family tree project, and insist oN opening the glue sticks themselves, and then they will stubbornly colour and compete with each other over Who Did Life Best. And then despite all these little accomplishments they get so frustrated that they can't tie their own shoelaces at the end of the class that they cry a little bit and then fling themselves into my arms, hand me the shoes, and then lay on the ground with a foot in the air like, FINE. YOU MAY HELP ME NOW.
Or, FINE. YOU PEEL THE SODDING ORANGE NEXT TIME THEN.
It's the exact same thing.