Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Thoughts on The Aftermath

For me it's always afterwards that the grief sinks it's claws in. The days following my brother's wedding were hard for me. My parents generously paid for hotel rooms for us so I could see both them and my brother as much as possible before I left the country again. I am not proud of the fact I was not appreciative of this at first. I felt awkward accepting so much from them when I give so little. I felt awkward staying in a place where up until then all my memories included Jonathan and sadly I hated being served by someone who could have been him fourteen years ago.

Despite all this I enjoyed my time there. I got to see my in-laws and spend the whole afternoon and evening with my brother before I left. I hadn't realised how much that would mean to me as we're not exactly close. I'm too withdrawn and far away for us to be in daily of weekly contact but we do care deeply for one another. Spending time with him and his wife so soon after they were married was a true gift which was only possible due to my mother persistence. I won't say much but I will say I made my mother unhappy which I deeply regret. It is something I vowed not to do when I left for Australia the last time and I regretted breaking that vow, especially when she was trying so hard to be supportive. I was determined not to be so selfish and yet here I was hurting the one person I could always rely on. She called me on it and I apologised and since she is my mother she forgave me.

I mention this for two reasons. One I want to publically acknowledge that my mother was right and that I was a spoilt brat and I am deeply sorry I hurt her. The other is that she called me on it. She treated me like a grown-up who has to take responsibility for her actions and that makes me happy. No more am I treated as something fragile. Yes they know I hurt but now I am strong enough to take responsibility for my actions and to have to account for it when I do not.

As for the hotel, when we checked in it was full a place full of memories I had never had to confront yet when I left it was just another, not very great, hotel. I won't go back by choice but if I had to then I could and it would just be another place we used to go like so many more that already exist. 

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Footloose and Fancy Free

Well my brother and his wife were tied together forever in the nicest of ways but I was still footloose and fancy free. In the days following the wedding I managed to have lunch with my in-laws and dinner with my family and my sister-in-laws parents and spend the whole afternoon and evening with the newly-weds. Now usually I wouldn't intrude but since I was heading out of the country I was glad to have to opportunity to spend time with them before travelling again. We took our cameras to a local small zoo and turned them on the unsuspecting animals and plants and occasionally each other. It wasn't all roses but that's a different post but in the end I am glad that I had that time and I was sad to leave everyone behind. I was not sad to leave the weather. It had been awful for my short visit home and I was delighted that I would soon be back in the tropics.


Instead of the usual quick stop over I decided to follow the example of many before me and stay in Singapore for a few days and I wasn't disappointed. As soon as I stepped off the plane I felt the familiar heat and humidity and I couldn't wait to get in to my old outfit of shorts, skirts and light tops. I caught a shuttle bus to my hostel, I vaguely remembered that there was public transport but as I had been without internet for a few days I wasn't sure so thought the shuttle bus would be the easiest way to get there. On arriving I discovered one of my roommates was an English girl who was only there for one night. Her friend had recommended a great restaurant in little India which turned out to be as good as promised an very reasonable after my exposure to Australian prices. After dinner though I was tired it was still to early to sleep so she suggested we grab a beer and take in the local scene whilst attempting to battle the jet lag. I'm not much of a beer drinker but I am glad I developed a slight taste for it recently as cider seemed to be an unknown in Singapore. The beer was light and cold and the company was great making my introduction to Singapore a chilled night but still one to remember.

Though I would have enjoyed exploring with her the next day I knew she would be up early as she only had one day to explore the city. I guess in a way I'm out of practice at being a tourist or maybe it was the jet lag or maybe it was the events of the last month catching up with me but whatever it was I was exhausted. I slept the morning away but woke up feeling refreshed and ready to see what this new city had to offer. 

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Thoughts on Attending my Brothers Wedding

As you can imagine this was an extremely emotional day made even more so because of the absence of the man I love. It frustrates me that my joy at even the happiest of occasions is dimmed by the knowledge that he is not there sharing them with me. I've never been one for crowds yet with him by my side I felt I could do anything. I still don't like crowds yet now it is the memory of him that gives me the courage to face them . Sadly on this most important day my courage failed. Thankfully I had both of my families on hand, not to mention my mother best friend, to keep an eye on me and give me safe haven. I stayed close and only ventured as far as my cousins table when I was feeling brave enough to attempt social. As a youngster I was chronically shy and though I did not retreat in to full teenage mode I found the whole day slightly overwhelming. As much as my friend's wedding years ago made me sad I had not given our families this day my brother made me happy for me that I had not been faced with it.

I am glad the day was everything my brother and his bride wanted but for me I was happy behind my camera recording what I could. I was content to speak to those who knew me well and would understand my awkwardness as part of my nature not an intent to be rude. I was glad I could hide amongst the familiar in a setting that was so unfamiliar to me. See I am not so brave. I face the unknown on a regular basis. I will jump off bridges, out of planes, dive the deepest oceans and go into the unknown without a missed heartbeat if I can. I will travel on my own, make friends as I go and trust that somehow life will all work out. But ask me to go to a big social gathering and participate and well, it's not as bad as spiders but I'd rather take the high jump. I'm just not good with crowds, never have been. In my line of work I can fake it and I can deal with them when I have to but when my emotions were so mixed and so deep on this day that it was just too much. Thankfully sister of the groom when the bride has a sister is the easiest job on the planet. Turn up, get your photo taken, in my case do a reading. I wouldn't have missed that day for anything and I am glad I have reached a point where I could participate to some extent but I can't help but wonder.....If he had been here would I have done better? Could I have done more? And if the answer is yes does that make what I did any less?

The fact is he wasn't there. I did my best. I missed a few dances and at the end of the night I went home alone, to an unfamiliar bed where, thanks to the thoughtfulness of my mother, I had his jumper, my stuffed dog and a brand new laptop to work out my feeling on. The next morning I discovered the joy of creating bubble]y mouthwash when you try use toothpaste as mouthwash (I had forgotten my toothbrush) try it, it's awesome fun. I had breakfast with my family and I tried not to hurt because he wasn't there. Maybe I shouldn't have tried, maybe if I had let someone in and shared my pain then it wouldn't have been so obvious but then hindsight is a wonderful thing. All I can hope is that my sadness didn't diminish anyone else's happiness. That when it mattered the most I came through. And if it didn't well I tried. I tried my best and I am proud because I know my best is so much more than it was even one year ago. Most of all I hope that the bride and groom had a fabulous day, that they didn't think of me too much (I'd say not at all but that's just not them) and that they will always be as happy as they looked that day. 

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

The Reason For Going Home aka Big Brothers Wedding Day

Finally the day had arrived for my big brother to become a married man. The bride looked gorgeous in a dress that suited her like it had not only been made for but designed for her as well. My brother scrubbed up not too badly but most importantly they looked so happy and in love anytime they were together. It was an short but emotional ceremony. I was slightly terrified as they asked me to do a reading which in the end I wrote myself. Now I hate public speaking and there were 120 odd people there but this was something I desperately want to do and do right for my brother and his bride. I was so proud of them both and proud to be able to share in their special day. Well I messed up a little but the emotion and feeling were understood I think so I got away with the odd missed word, shaking and very wobbly voice.

Next came the photos where I entertained myself my taking photos of the photos being taken and stealing the odd nip of rum or whisky from the obliging grooms men. Only to help keep me warm you understand, after all it was a chilly day. Eventually the photographer was done and it was my turn. Oh not with the bride and groom, they still had a long way to go with the professionals, I headed back to the venue and got my SLR out to see what I could do with it before dinner.

I had great fun wandering round the venue recording the details of the day, flowers waiting to be gifted, a rather unique ceiling and of course the tables once they were set. Oh of course friends and family who were foolish enough to stand still long enough for me to take a snap. Once we were the wedding party arrived back at the hall and we were all seated it was time for the speeches. Now at least during the grooms speech I had an advantage. I had been allowed a sneak preview that morning when I had gone round for a cup of tea and to collect my flower. I knew who to aim my camera at and I was braced for the mention of Jonathan and who he was missed. Even with preparation I still had to raise my camera when the attention was once more on me as my brother informed the hole gather that I had written the reading I had stumble through earlier that day. I'm sure I looked strange snapping at that moment but when in doubt take a photo is my motto and I'm sticking with it. The same practice save me a few times that night. As happy as I was to be there and as delighted as I was for my brother and his new wife the absence of my love was keenly felt at times. During the second dance when I knew I should have been on the floor I had no-one to dance with, thankfully I was able to get some good arty shots from a hand balcony instead. And during a particular wedding favourite which for some reason the band sing of love lost instead of happily ever, after as I would expect at a celebration of love, I retreated once more. Mostly though I managed to remember that it was night for celebrating what was and joined in, which was rather easier once I swapped my pretty heals for less pretty but infinitely more comfortable flats!  I even managed to steal a quick part-dance each with the bride and groom towards the end of the evening.

I am proud to say that I was among the last to leave. I walked with the bride and groom to the hotel across the road where we met the brides family. I may not have been in the best condition but I did think it would be nice to join them for a quick drink as I knew so little about them. Soon though the day really was over and it was time for bed. It had been an emotional day but I am glad to say mostly for all the right reasons. The day had been a celebration of my brother and his new wife's love and I wouldn't ave missed it for anything. It was without a doubt, a day worth coming home for.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Getting Ready for the Big Day

It seemed like no time at all since my brother and his girlfriend returned from Nepal as my brother and his fiancée. Yet there I was on the bus travelling through the cold Scottish countryside on my way to our home town for their wedding. I was travelling the day before my own parents as I had been gifted some beauty treatments at my preferred beautician across the road from my in-laws house. Since I had no desire to turn up at the wedding with red eyebrows I thought it prudent to travel down on the Thursday allowing me the Friday to be waxed and polished and allowing me Friday evening to recover from the shock of looking properly civilised once more.

I travelled early so I could have lunch with my aunt in-law and catch up with her family. It was great to see them and hear their news not to mention my pleasure at an unexpected conversation with her son about physics and astronomy. He had clearly given a lot of thought to the subject we discussed and asked some difficult question that I did my best answer. After many years away I would have found questions about Australia easier but I found I enjoyed revisiting these topics much in the way I had with my young German friend in Cairns a few months back.

Having been fed and tested I had no sooner been dropped at my in-laws house than I was requesting the groom-to-be aka my brother give me a lift to a local shop to pick up a new laptop as mine had sadly decided that it was too old to travel. I communicated this to me by randomly turning itself off and restarting at the most inconvenient moments. I had thought to keep my brother company as the bride-to-be was staying with her family for the next two nights but he soon informed me that his groomsmen were doing their jobs well and would soon be by. With that in mind I declined the invitation to join them and headed back to wait for my in-laws only to discover they had beaten me home. We had a lovely evening catching up as they filled me in on their not so sunny holiday and I told them about my hunt for shoes. OK they had more to say but that never stops me.

The next day I subject myself to over an hours' worth of beautifying by a lively girl who chatted and made the whole thing rather painless. I left with fabulous purple nails and feeling like I wouldn't disgrace myself in the family photos the following day. That evening I was able to meet up with some childhood friends and the chat swung between our current news and old reminisces with many conversation never actually ending as one of us remembered something else. Such is the joy of meeting up with friends you have know since you were a child and haven't seen in over a year. I do regret the time we lost when we drifted apart but I am glad we are in touch now even though our friendship is very different to what it once was, after all we are no longer children living next door to one another.  Sadly though we talked for hours the evening ended too soon but we all agreed it was time to go our separate ways once more. In my case it was to get an early night as tomorrow was my brother and his fiancées big day.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

And Finally Home

Another early start and I was heading back north. It took two trains, two buses and a plane but finally I was back in Glasgow! I even had time for my in-laws to feed and shower me before my generous big brother drove me to my gig. I know that any number of family members would have come with me indeed my brother was rather put out when he found I was going alone. Considering how much time I spend on my own I truly wasn't bothered, also I didn't see the point of any of them wasting money to see a band they weren't interested in just to keep me company. Being the friendly kind of folk I am I soon got chatting to the lady beside me who it turns out was such a fan she had been to every single one of Matchbox Twenty's UK gigs. I was very impressed and glad to know there would be someone more nuts than me close by.

It was a great gig with a mixture of old and new songs. Since their latest album is one of the few I bought whilst in Australia and I have been a fan for almost 14 years I was ecstatic. I sang and cheered so much that my voice was almost gone by the time my brother collected me at 11pm. It almost made up for missing them in Australia the previous year.

As much as I enjoy being back in the town I called home for more years than I care to remember the next day I was off again. Finally I would be heading back to my home base in Aberdeenshire (aka mum & dads house) for almost two weeks. One of the first things we did was to meet up with my cousin and Aunt for a quick catch-up lunch. Sadly again my timing was off as my cousin would be away for most of my visit home and therefore apart for the wedding this was my only change to see her. Having found 'the' dress for the upcomig wedding I was on amission to find the perfect shoes and since we were in town for lunch I htought it would be a great idea to start looking, how hard could it be? You'd think after the dress search I would have known better, who knew that high heeled back patent shoes came in such a variety of styles?!?! Eventually after many more days shopping my mother and I found the right pair, not to high, not to short, not to narrow and not too big. It was smaller than I usually wear but the others I had tried kept sliding off my heels so I thought this would be best since I didn't want them to fall off during my inevitable drunken dancing which has been know to be rather enthusiastic at times....

In between various shopping trips for shoes I did manage to remember that the day wasn't actually about me and my fashion sense. My mother helped me find a wedding rose  for my brother and his new wife's garden as a lifelong reminder of their joy and happiness on their wedding day. I had wanted to find the same rose as the bride had in her bouquet but they weren't garden roses so I hoped this would be an acceptable substitute. Back home we used our time wisely by relaxing. One of my favourite memories from this trip home though will be the afternoon my mum and I made some pancakes which brought back childhood memories of happy carefree days.

It wasn't all sitting about eating goodies though. My parents drove me to St Andrews so I could catch up with an old uni friend. I had hoped for a nice day so we could all enjoy our day out but typically it rained. My parents made the best of it and headed to the nearest pub whilst my friend and I had a great time catching up and walking around in between showers. It was strange to meet him in the place where almost ten years earlier we had graduated together but fun to see what was the same and what had changed both in the town and in our lives. 

So far my visit home was undoubtedly a success but what made it even better was (wonder of wonders) my DSLR arrived fixed and working like it had never had a fit at me all those months ago. This resulted in me going with my mum to her health club and taking many photos whilst she was getting beautified, to much amusement of the staff watching me. I don't know why but the sight of a 30 year old woman placing a small stuffed highland cos all over the place and taking multiple serious shots is apparently not a common one.

I was fortunate enough to have been given my beautifying treatments as a birthday present so before I knew it I was back on a bus and heading to my old home town again. At least for once I was travelling light as my mum had offered to bring my luggage with her the next day when she and my dad would be travelling down for my brother's wedding. Ao it was just me, Zack and an overnight case on our way again.