Yay, Eden is doing Fresh Horses again! It’s a meme. Whatever. If you don’t know what the hell I’m on about, go here. Or just ignore this first bit and keep reading. Or click away. Actually no, don’t, I’ll try to keep this one short… Who am I kidding, I don’t know how to do that.
Who am I? Such a hard question. I find it hard to define the essential me that differs from my roles. Mother, wife, daughter, friend… Yeah I’m those things but they don’t define who I am.
I was always shy. Not timid, just reserved and self-conscious. I never said a word to any stranger, wouldn’t even look someone in the eye if I didn’t know them. Except one day, about age three, some woman walking past said, “hello little girl.” Apparently I looked her straight in the eye and said, “you’re a tomato.” As you do. Made perfect sense to me at the time. And that kind of defines me in a way. I keep my head down and do my own thing most of the time but I know what I think and will give an opinion at intervals. And when I do, it can be extreme!
People don’t believe me when I say I’m shy but it’s true. I felt so different as a kid. I truly believed there was no one in the world like me; no one who really got me. I always marvelled at others who seemingly sailed through life, enjoying just being. I felt out of place and often overlooked. I was neurotic, still am. I’d watch others and judge: why is he walking pigeon-toed? Why is she slouching? Don’t they realise what their bodies are doing?
In high school I had physical anxiety at the prospect of socialising. I’d get off the phone with my best friend, having just agreed to some spontaneous outing later that night, and immediately feel pain in my stomach as I frantically reeled through ideas for getting out of it. Tell her I can’t; just don’t turn up; get sick; make an excuse…
I am a perfectionist. I’m hugely judgmental of myself. I’m a procrastinator. I’m lazy. I’m indulgent. I’m patient. I love ice cream. Especially gelato and Ben & Jerry’s. I’m overweight. My weight is the biggest and longest-standing issue in my life. I have an extraordinarily strong body and constitution. I’m lucky for that.
I’m great with languages, so much so that I ended up with a degree in Italian only because it was easy. I used to work in government even though I vowed never to as I thought that was for average people; and I am anything but average. I can be snobby, but it’s not so much a class thing as an intelligence thing. I can’t be bothered with stupid people who float through life without any self-awareness. Harsh, right? Yeah, I can be harsh. But for some reason people still like me.
I value feeling at home in a place over the people who are around me. I have a bizarre fascination with Scandinavia. I’m pretty sure I was Norwegian in another life. I love ice and snow and cool crisp air. I love European trees, autumn leaves, wood fires, wooden houses with attics and Persian carpets and heavy old furniture. I love my comfort.
Eden says she’s good at starting fresh, drawing a line in the sand. I’m shit at that. Actually I’ll clarify that: I’m good at declaring a line has been drawn and that this is the beginning of a whole new phase. As for actually following through, forget it, never happens. That is one thing about myself that I really hate, that lack of discipline and motivation. But it dominates and I can’t rid myself of it. Probably the only time I’ve successfully ‘changed’ is when I went to live in London. I ended a long term relationship, slept with some randoms, got beer from the offie at 3am, took drugs, took risks, went on blind dates, smoked, manipulated men with sex, drank a lot of coffee, earnt good money and met my husband. Sounds dodgy but it was liberating. I don’t regret any of it. Except the time I went home with an ugly Greek guy who lived in Kingston upon Thames. And maybe the time I had taken so much coke I couldn’t get to sleep even though it was like 7am so I stood on an icy balcony and looked out over the apartment complex and breathed in the cold air and smoked and wondered if the few people I saw could guess I was coked up the yin yang. That was the last time, I vowed. And I guess I did draw a line at that point.
I really don’t know who I am. But I do feel glad to be it. I feel excited at the prospect of finally being at home; I know it exists, I’m close. Can’t wait to get away from bloody Sydney. I’m glad to be married to a man currently sitting watching rugby and occasionally looking over at me and eating his shortbread seductively; and then sticking up his middle finger when I laugh at him. I am glad to be the mother of this heavy 13-month-old currently draped across me, boobie firmly in mouth, sound asleep, little mouth fluttering at interval. I’m a writer and I’ll keep writing until I have nothing left. Maybe then I’ll know who I am. Probably at the end. It’s one of those journey versus destination things, right?
Oh, and I am allergic to honey. True story.