because none of us is fucking up like we think we are, is what i'm trying to say

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

I guess my parents can still surprise me. Which is surprising.



Right now I’m in some kind of world-travel twilight zone.

I’m from a family of travellers. My nanna made the local paper when she backpacked Asia in her 70’s. Yes, that clipping is still in a frame on her wall. My aunt and uncle disappear to the Indian sub-continent every winter for four or five months. Yes, it is hard not to resent them when they are tan in January. Mama Janie’s parents were expats on a Spanish island, my brother spends summers co-coordinating projects in Africa or exploring the Eastern bloc, and, obviously yes, I can’t commit to staying in one place with any more conviction than I can declare that Billy Bob Thornton isn’t a hot piece of silver fox ass who I would totally do even though he is like, proper well old.

What? I like the idea of a fella who has stories.

What is absolute about my family, though, is that my parents? NOT TRAVELLERS.

Why would I want all that hassle of jostling about everywhere when I live somewhere as beautiful as I do? Mama asks, to which I’m all URM. SHALL I GIVE YOU A LIST? But then I remember ‘each to their own’ and all that positive karma stuff. Sometimes mums like the idea of Derbyshire more than they like the notion of spaghetti marinara on the Riviera. Sometimes dads like the local pub more than hauling a backpack around a dusty South American city with no bed booked for the night, and little prospect of finding one.

I get that.

I mean, I think it makes you a bit dead inside, and I’m not sure we’ll have much to talk about over dinner if you don’t want to Marco Polo the shit out of the globe with the same fervent attention you lavish on watching Hollyoaks every night, but whatever. You’re still cute.

HOWEVER.

My dad just got a job in China.

MY. DAD. JUST. GOT. A. JOB. IN. CHINA. SHUT. THE. FRONT. DOOR. DO. THEY. EVEN. HAVE. BODDINGTONS. THAT. FAR. EAST. WHAT. THE. HELL. JUST. HAPPENED.

Life has suddenly gone from Laura, when will you come home and be with us? We miss you! to HEY LET’S GET THE FAMILY TOGETHER ON A REMOTE MALAYSIAN ISLAND TO CELEBRATE MUMS BRITHDAY AND THEN TAKE HER TO HONG KONG AND TOBOGGAN ON THE GREAT WALL BECAUSE IT’S CLOSER TO MY NEW HOME THAN DERBY IS!

My world- pun intended- has been somewhat flipped upside down in a way only Will Smith can empathise with. It’s just… weird, thinking that for every six out of eight weeks my dad will be on the other side of the world when for a long time he has told me to 'come home'.

Names of cities are being sprinkled liberally over the ingredients of our conversations, now, and I’m getting angry cross-country phone calls from my brother wherein he yells WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU CAN’T COMMIT TO A FAMILY HOLIDAY IN MALAYSIA YOU DAFT BITCH. TAKE A HEARTY DOSE OF GET THE HECK OVER YOURSELF AND GET INVOLVED!

The last Skype call I had with Dad went like this:

Me: So, you fly out to China in the middle of August?
Dad: Yes, but first I have to go to Germany.
Me: Oh. Mama said you were going to Taiwan first.
Dad: I am. After I go to Turkey.
Me: WAIT. YOU’RE GOING TO TURKEY? IS THAT AT THE BEGINNING OF YOUR TRIP?
Dad: Yeah, I’ve got a week of meetings before we get into Asia.
Me: Well I could meet you in Istanbul if it matches my days off… I’ve been wanting to take a break from Italy, to be honest, and I get two days off then.
Dad: The 10th, I’m there on the 10th. Does that work for you?
Me: Oh. No. I’m still working then. When do you get back?
Dad: Middle of September. When will you be in England?
Me: I booked a flight home for August 31st, but if I get this other job that I’m waiting to hear from, I leave again September 15th.
Dad: Damn. I fly back into the country on the 16th.
Me: So I won’t see you til you’re back for Christmas then?
Dad: No. I guess not. If you do get that job you’ll be closer to China than to England, though. Hey! Why don’t you get the boat across to me and see me there?
Me: Dad. I have to go now. You’re creeping me out.

And then I got off of that Skype call and had to take a vodka shot and Google pictures of Ryan Gosling in my five-minute alone time in order to shake off how surreal talking like that with Dad was. We’re a modest, hard-working family who holidayed in package tours to places close to home when we were growing up. We don’t just pop to Taiwan on the way to the shops.

Except that now, it seems, we do.

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