Ever the optimist, recurring tonsillitis and ear infections is a marvelous opportunity to hone the art of mime. Currently on day four of the latest episode, the eve of my 28th birthday, mute and with the hearing of an immersive horror ASMR experience. The fact that I look like a thumb from swelling leads only to the epitome of attractiveness, even if I do say so myself. The mix of antibiotics, cough medicine and codeine act as a wonderful time of reflection and binge watching true crime documentaries. There’s nothing quite like relishing in your inner pensioner guilty pleasures of Sudoku puzzles, murder and mint tea.
This bout of tonsilitis and an ear infection has been wonderfully timed, my 28th has gone mostly under the radar as hoped. As mentioned in a previous post on my issues with turning 27, 28 holds the similar stigma. It throws out the clockwork, and guilt ensues. I shouldn’t have gotten older than 23, and that weight stays on my heart each day. Turning 28 was a knife in reality: soon enough I’d have to accept it.
That said, let’s delve through a little mind jumble.
Collectively I have spent just over a year in the United States, most of that working in summer camps. This line of work taught me to be ever so reflective and analytical on personal experiences, constantly curious and eager to grow. In Britain, we have a tendency to be complacent and ride our life journey as it comes to us. In the United States, I was overwhelmed with the constant hunger for success, learning, the culture of inspiration and nurturing, in addition to the ability to evaluate past experiences and seek to learn from them. Since my time working in the States, my mind constantly seeks to analyse, to grow, and to see what I can bring to my own life from my education from the other side of the pond.
So here we are, a little evaluation of time. The new year ruffles even the best of us, as a non supporter of new year’s resolutions I adopted a new year mantra instead. Be calm, be creative, be confident, be kind. Flicking through my old brown paper journals, I saw a pattern in my writing and looked to map the mental journey. In 2016, the match was set. 2017, I crashed. 2018, I burned. 2019? I heal. It’s a firm acknowledgement that one is in charge of one’s own happiness, and our paths are created from our personal active choices alone. Heading into 28, a little alignment was required to get back on the right train track. Thinking of my beloved G, I closed my eyes and thought- how do I correct this? Who do I want to be at 30, and how do I get there?It’s a tough one to look at yourself in a new light, with a figurative sculpting tool and begin your blueprint sketching. I read in a psychology book that this can be referred to as mental architecture, though that can be disputed as it that term often is assigned to the active choices of being conscious or unconscious derivation. Either way- saying you’re doing a spot of mental architecture sounds rather fancy, so I’ll roll with it.
Amongst the to-do list includes an overhaul of the thirty before thirty, and to stop chewing so many of my favoured pens in coffee shops. Yes, I have those pretentious indie film moments where I write into my brown paper journal over some steaming java while looking out the window in a daydream. I balance it out by ordering a bog standard filter coffee at Starbucks, so I feel less like a basic bitch from Shoreditch.
I often feel withdrawn when it comes to publicising what I write, and have been known to throw scripts and articles into the (recycling) bin when the mood so calls. I’m teetering even with this piece, jumbled and lacking in structure and purpose as it may be. Even as society adopts an ever more present ‘it’s good to talk’ culture, we still find ourselves being closed off about many things. I’m constantly surprised following conversations of mental medication versus pills for an illness of the body, with the latter being acceptable and the former being deemed unnecessary. When you look at mental issues such as Psychopathy, these are genetic conditions (of which effect 1% of our population) as opposed to many other conditions which evolve through circumstance and lifestyle choices. Now, somebody taking medication for their genetic mental health condition is faced with stigma, despite them not choosing to have this defect. If somebody is naturally low in iron and diagnosed with anemia, we accept their iron pills and requirements. But naturally low in serotonin? You’re not allowed any medication. Good luck with those voices, depression and suicidal tendencies.
Visiting Cardiff last weekend for a University reunion, I found myself in a weird sense of immersive nostalgia as I strutted down St Mary’s Street, my old haunt, a little tipsy and my favourite French indie pop in my ears. It felt powerful. Years of memories came flooding back with each footstep, six crazy years of my life. It felt like a bizarre multi-dimensional déjà-vu, multiple events and eras folding out in front of me in silhouettes… a little like the ‘Once Upon a December’ scene from my beloved Anastasia film. Anyhow.
I’ve been quite silent about the negative issues since packing my bags from Wales back in 2014, when my brother’s illness called for me to go back down to the South Coast of England. When I have tried to speak of certain topics, I feel a little shunned. People often tut because of my age, they don’t quite understand. Once I got told I was too young to understand domestic abuse, when only a few years before I’d had a Crown Court case for the exact thing and was still dealing with severe anxiety as a subsequent of that relationship. I’ve been schtum about the topics of sexual abuse, stalking, domestic abuse- it feels a little unnerving even to write that down. It took years to even open up to anybody about this, even my journals are sketchy for the desire to forget those memories. Sometimes I wonder even if they happened at all. It’s perhaps why I have a bit of a tough streak and have been known to be somewhat cold and unempathetic. Sorry about that.
Getting older doesn’t half make your head curious about things. I’m at that age where friends and ex’s are getting engaged, people are actually adult-ing. I’m sat here with odd socks, a mustard wooly cardigan with a pen in my messy bun, pondering when it all happened. I’ve actually spoken about the idea about moving in with my gentleman. It feels like we’re pretending to play house: where in reality we’re 26 and 28, a year and a half into our relationship, and it’s the logical next step. But logic isn’t always my forte. I’m looking at friends and wondering why they’re suddenly getting a little wrinkle by their eye, why they aren’t getting ID’d anymore (thankfully my genes mean I still do- cheers ma), why people are saving for houses instead of hanging out too much at the pub. My old playmates until dawn are settled down with sprogs and becoming part of the notorious baby spam society. When my gentleman suggested purchasing a house and deposits/mortgage, my brain blue-screened like a 90s Windows computer. That’s just so- permanent.
You may have gathered that these are the somewhat tired ramblings of someone a little concerned for their looming birthday, and the objective of this piece is blurred. And by that, there is none. This is just a culmination of my mental cogs churning and index fingers tapping while I ponder. If you were waiting for a climax or purpose, you’ll be as disappointed as I was after that fateful shit haircut back in spring 2017.
Back to the continuing mind rambles.
I’ve often wondered if memories are best left to disappear, a little like casting your Jack off from the door when you’re Rose. Letting those experiences sink into nothingness, perhaps choosing to forget being easier. Whenever I’ve tried to write about them, it feels wrong. Or like nobody would care. There’s details I can’t bring myself to relive, and in part it feels so personal you don’t see the need to. Recently I was clearing out a box underneath my bed at my mother’s house, and in it was a hoard of items I’d hid there since the incident on my 20th birthday. I held them in my hands- eight years ago, and they still smelt as fresh as if it were that morning. Everything came flooding back, I didn’t know why they were still there. I threw it all away- breathing sharp and heart pounding. Touching history like it was present, a shudder down my spine even at the thought. To touch those fateful objects, the stories untold. Photographs to match, from that fateful era, I couldn’t bring myself to throw away. It felt like I still needed to know it really happened. I didn’t make it all up. I know I didn’t.
I guess for years I’ve been trained that silence is our friend, and that solace lies at the end of a bottle. That’s why I turned to escapism, roaming Europe and America with my backpack and creating short friendships with folks who never got too deep into your psyche. It was easy. They didn’t need to know. You didn’t have to lie. You get to skim along a new life where it never really happened, where you’re simply the quirky Brit who drinks a lot of dark beer and encourages everyone to stay out til the music ends.
And then you start getting a few years behind you and question the sustainability, the effect on your wellbeing, and then before you know it you’re talking about mortgages. And you question the longevity of your spontaneity. That you’re the other side of 25.
To counterbalance a lot of thought currently in hyperdrive upstairs, I’ve booked a writing/art trip to Barcelona next Wednesday to Saturday, just before starting a new role in Winchester on Monday. A little delayed birthday trip as my 28th shall be simply a duvet day with painkillers and twinings. The role sounds delectable and I pray I do the company well, they excite me to my core. The little writing trip shall be an opportunity to shoot myAppreciation Project Part Three, and a few other writing titbits in my notebook. A little mental and creative playtime before settling into something new. Potentially not the best idea when still deaf from ear infection, but let’s see. Time to test how good those antibiotics really are.
Yes, this whole article is a side track. Congratulations on getting this far. Hopefully it made some sense. Maybe. Maybe not.
Either way, enough now.