After spending a weekend on what may well have been a mini high I have now entered free fall. Last night the boy and I had a horrible fight over the “future”. Admittedly I was probably being a little irrational. I wanted him to show me in some way that this is going to work; that we will be able to get through the next 18 months without falling to pieces and that this will all have been worth it in the end. It just feels strange a month ago we were considering the possibility of moving in together and playing house and now I am looking in the local paper for flats to move into by myself.
Though I am quite excited about the prospect of living alone for the last time I am sad to see our little dream end before it had really started. I know we can make this work but when I’m feeling low and pessimistic its hard to persuade myself of the positives. I do feel for him, I know it can not be easy going out with a girl whose head is so often in the clouds; the dark and the thundery as well as the light and the fluffy. He has always been the realistic one of the two of us. Though I might run away in my mind with schemes and plans about trips away to Cuba and a home in the Lakes where he can teach and I can write, he will be there holding my hand, ready to pull me back down to earth when the schemes become too wild.
Yesterday we argued because he is frustrated at how little I have been looking after myself. He hates to see me go into decline and understandably gets angry when he thinks it might be because I have been staying up too late, forgetting to take my tablets or just taking on too much. Although he has upset me this weekend by choosing to spend the Easter holiday at home rather than coming down to be with me, considering how much of a mess I was last weekend I can hardly blame him.
So often with mental illness it becomes all about the person who is sick. It is we who are given the tablets, the counselling and the coping strategies, all to often it is our partners, family and friends who fall by the way with little advice or explanation on how they should cope with the giant grey elephant in the corner who can not seem to stop crying their eyes out or talking at a hundred miles a minute. There are groups and websites which can help friends and partners but it is hard to know where to turn. There was one stage when I was living in Manchester when the boy was having to spend so much of his time making sure I was okay. I wasn’t seeing a Doctor, I was no longer on any anti-depressants and I had started having panic attacks. When I am a wreck it is all to easy for me to forget how much he has done and continues to do for me. I never want him to be my carer but there has been times when I know I couldn’t have coped without him. We work the best when we are both happy and I hate it on days like today when I sink so low that I refuse to believe anything he says. I tell him he should not be with me, that he should find a normal girl who is not so high maintenance but because he is sweet he tells me I am not and that he would not have me any other way even if I was.
I do love him dearly but I am so afraid of what the next eighteen months will bring. I am terrified that one day I will shoot us in the foot by saying something I do not mean and he will walk away for good and find himself a girl with fewer issues. One day he tells me he will write a blog which he hopes will help the partners of other people with problems, but at the minute I think he might be a bit too mad to write.
- Today’s dress comes from Lara. It is beautiful and I put it on because I knew the boy liked it when he first saw it in the bag of donated dresses. I wanted him to get on the train with a happier memory of me than the tired, tearful, weary eyed woman he went to bed with last night.
The Alps are so beautiful, I wish the boy was here. We have never had the chance to ski together but I know he would love it as much as I do. Today was a bit of a trial. It is horrible falling out with one’s family especially in a far away land where there is no room for escape.
My sister and I skied together today, for whatever reason we have always been a lot quicker to fall in than we are to fall out. My sister is a gem who is extremely forgiving and tolerant, I think it has something to do with being good at yoga. I was so glad she gave the piste another go as she has come on so much over the holiday and I didn’t want her to miss out on the last day to play at being nurse. We never got to ski together when we were children because she had gone off the sport by the time I was old enough to come along. The giants method of teaching is very much the die trying variety which my eldest sister did not take well to.
A couple of years ago however she decided to give it another chance and now she has her confidence back there will be no stopping her. I took her down a red run after I had checked it out to make sure it was suitable and she handled it better than me. I was half asleep after last nights drama and I fell over at least three times on the way down; at one stage my sister had to try and prevent collisions on the roadway as I was giggling too much to get up and had fallen foolishly on the corner of a particularly speedy hairpin bend.
I wish we could have just a little longer out here. It is so peaceful; every morning when I draw back the curtains the view is so fabulous I am convinced I am staring out at a giant scenic picture postcard.
- Today’s dress is from TK Maxx. It probably could have done with some kind of petticoat under it but thanks to difficult-jet’s luggage allowance I am rather short on accessories. The boots are Kurt Geiger and the tights are from Peacocks and though they were a bargain at only a pound they have unfortunately already fallen to bits but at least this means I hav one less thing I need to pack come tomorrow.
I wanted to go anyway as I love the idea that one day we will have a Brady Bunch style holiday where the most exciting thing that happens is my mother burning the toast. Because of this tragic dream I assured the boy things would be different and I actually believed it, there would only ever be four family members together at any one time and there was going to be partners and friends to force us all to be on our best behaviour.
For the first four days everything went well; there were no sulks, no snarls and even sarcasm was kept to a minimum. I started to feel smug at how dull we had become and even considered making cookies for us all. I should have known it would not last. The giant enjoys his space as do we all and in the absence of yoga, Facebook and Sky television the tensions began to mount and all it would take for things to explode was a happy hour combined with an empty tummy too many.
As I am not really meant to be drinking I usually try to back away from situations where I feel obliged to drink. Après ski however is a traditional part of mountain culture and is one of the nicest parts of the skiing day. After the lifts have stopped the skis come off and people gather together with their friends, family and travelling companions upon the terraces which look up to the slopes and swap anecdotes of a day spent with their heads above the clouds. When everyone suggested an après ski drink I could not resist and over a cold beer we had a great time dissecting our day and congratulating ourselves for surviving a blizzard to come unharmed through the other side of the mountains mist.
The problem with drinking after a hard day on the slopes is how quickly the alcohol goes to your head. I have fallen foul of the beer fairy before and in doing so have ruined myself for the slopes the next day; with this thought in mind and an overwhelming desire to finally get up to date with my blog I headed home leaving the others at The Rhododendron; the cheapest and most cheerful pub in the whole of Le Praz. I was feeling quite proud of myself for recognising the limits of my liver and treated myself to a strong coffee and hot shower to ease the aches of the slope.
I do not know why everything went wrong but I do know when it started to slide downhill. I had curled myself upon the couch after returning to the apartment alone and was looking forward to spending some time alone. I had just finished coming up with a concept for the day’s blog when my thought structure was interrupted by my sister’s partner crashing through the door upon the arm of my father’s godson. Admittedly he had been moaning while we were in the pub and had asked for a cold pack but we had all assumed he wasn’t too injured as he had skied down the mountain on it just fine only an hour before. One look at his face convinced me he was not faking, he was pale and acting as though he was in total agony. Though I do not have the most maternal of bones I felt I should at least attempt to care for him. His knee was the size of a tennis ball after all and with my sister absent and my mother back in the UK I applied the medicine of every good Irish woman, a cup of tea and a sandwich.
After adding to my cure a couple of painkillers and some snow packs, (my father’s godson’s innovative invention) ,it was clear he might need more medical attention than I could provide. Although I did a first aid course when I was twelve all I could remember was something about a triangular bandage and I didn’t really see how that could help us now. It was about this point that I started to panic.
My sister and the giant were over at the bar with no idea about the deteriorating knee situation. Though my sister had said she would return home after one more drink I had little faith in her keeping this promise. I have echoed the same spiel myself when the boy has rang to see when he could expect me home. Though one likes to believe one will be home in a jiffy the craic of the bar will always outweigh any call to come home, especially as the caller will usually be a cross patch by the time you get back and be none too amused when you tell them you wuv them very smuch indeed.
As I feared she may not be in the mood for problem solving when she returned I had sent a messenger to find out whether there was any hope of getting help on a Sunday and found out that the nearest hospital was forty minutes away. When I heard this I had another unpleasant realisation; I was the only one capable of driving and I haven’t been in a car since December. I was beginning to feel rather overwhelmed by responsibility and upon hearing another groan from my sister’s partner I realised I had no choice but to get the doctor involved. When she arrived she seemed quite concerned and advised a hospital visit for X-rays and painkillers. After deciding it would be best to wait till the morning to take him I began to feel relieved that something had been done.
My sister had returned just before the Doctor got there which left me free to return to my writing whilst she played at being nurse. Just as I had settled into the couch however and opened up a monthly magazine, the giant returned. If it wasn’t for his rosy cheeks I probably would have jumped out the ground floor window upon seeing the look on his face. The giant had been unaware of the developments in the knee situation and as far as he was aware I had called out a seventy-five euro doctor for no reason and was a bit of a fool for doing so.
There is little point in going into detail about who slung the mud and how deep was the colour but what got said tonight has destroyed the delicate peace of the last few days. I feel foolish for coming away and annoyed because come the morning I will be the only one who will remember the harsh words spoken. The boy is perhaps right, maybe the time has come to call a day on the annual family hell-a-day.
- Today’s dress is another loan from my sister who also took the photos from today. It is from Hennes and though it looked great with a beret all of us were feeling a bit too bitter about the rugby to promote French culture any more than we had to. The mountains in the background by the way are Swiss.
- FYI – The reason I am smiling in the pictures is they were taken before everything kicked off when we were still on speaking terms. I do hope our family will be at peace again., I just find it hard right now to imagine how.
Though the giant and I have a terse relationship when we are skiing we somehow manage to put our differences aside and enjoy each others company. When I was nine-years-old my father decided it was time to take me along on the O’Neill family annual skiing holiday. My mother has never been a big fan of the sport so she tended to stay at home with whichever tot was too young to come along. Although I was a daddy’s girl when I was younger by the time my first skiing trip came round my feet were planted firmly at my mother’s side and the idea of leaving her to go away with the giant seemed to me like an act of treason. In the end our darling Catherine managed to convince me that skiing was “really good fun” and I conceded to join her and the giant in a trip to Austria. I must admit I did not immediately take to the activity, it was freezing cold and no matter how many times I sucked on my gloves my fingers felt like icicles. By the end of the holiday however I was hooked; I loved the way the wind whipped through my hair as I hurtled down the slopes, I loved how fast me and my sister could fly down the flat runs, pausing only to size up the best path for show jumps and I loved how well we all got along without the pressures of two other siblings, housework and homework. My sister, my father and I would get up and out by half seven and stay out on the slopes till the last lift of the day. The flights back then used to cost a fortune so we would save our money by bringing Mars bars from home and the occasional slab of Milka to keep our energy levels up throughout the day. My father would share it out between us on the chair lift and we would chomp it down before embarking upon another run.
The best holidays were always those where we split into ski school groups during the morning then met up at lunchtime to swap stories. I do not know why it is we get along OK when we are skiing, perhaps like our shared love of football, having an activity which we both enjoy means we have something in common other than blood. Whatever it is we always seem to have a good time up on the mountains and we have spent whole afternoons together tearing down The Alps, racing and seeking out new challenges, chasing the sun and attempting to escape the cloud and the mist.
I feel privileged that I have been able to go skiing from a young age, although me and my sister were taken out of school I do not think we missed out on any where near as much as we gained from going. Some of my favourite and most traumatic childhood memories are from these holidays, such as all the times my sister and I used our sunglasses to check out hot men on the slopes or the time my father fell over the side of a cliff and we had to beg passing skiers to stop and help us drag him up. For some time my father and I were at a level with our ability but sadly he has now overtaken me and it makes me a little sad that we no longer ski in union. We had a race today and for the first time in years he beat me leaving me with a burning desire to get my fitness back on track as soon as we get back to the UK to make sure this travesty never happens again, I mean for goodness sake he’s practically retired!
- My sister kindly took the photos for today and we tried to get a backdrop of The Alps but the railway crossing got in the way a little as well as some rude drivers who seemed to think they had the rights over the road . Today was supposed to be Little Black Dress Friday as started by The Uniform Project a couple of weeks ago to promote creativity and sustainability. Unfortunately it has been postponed till next week but as dress supplies out here are as scarce as the snow in the valley I decided to wear my long black dinner dance dress regardless. My mother bought it for my dinner dance when I was 16 and since then I have worn it on only five other occasions; four of these were to dinners and evening dos with different boyfriends, the last was for a visit to the opera in Verona with my father, my brother and my mother. I love it to bits and even though I look rather different in it now to when I was a slender sixteen-year-old, I still think it is one of the most beautiful dresses I own.
Today I fell off the wagon rather dramatically. In my defence I have been doing fairly well; other than a few drinks on a couple of special occasions over the past four weeks I have been surprisingly sober. I can not deny that I haven’t missed the drink; I love the grape and the grain as I do a long overdue conversation with a good friend so being without it has left me feeling a little lonely at times, particularly when my society consists of the suitably sozzled.
Though I had decided to do my best to have a booze free holiday it turns out not drinking in France is nearly as depressing as not smoking. When I tuck into a long lunch with a baby bubble beverage rather than one of their sweet stumpy beers I am looked at like a leper and feel like a right old bore. After all I say to myself I am on holiday and after all surely occupation of a different country means one must adopt their laws and customs. Surely I think by not drinking their delicious vino I am causing unintended offence.
After running through similarly logically sound arguments all day I finally fall well and truly off the wagon during dinner. I manage to convince myself that holidays are technically a special occasion and after all I have cause for celebration and this is the first time I have shared a meal with my family after getting my good news. It may be an excuse and I am perhaps kidding myself but it certainly feels like an occasion. We go to our favourite restaurant in Chamonix. Although The Hotel Eden do some of the most fanatic dishes in the whole of The Alps, their prices are pretty high and although I would love to go to their restaurant until I am employed it is just not realistic. Our favourite restaurant is one of the best value in the whole of Le Praz, a small village just outside of central Chamonix. It is only a five minute stroll from where we stay and their menu has I think stayed the same for the last five years.
It is one of those restaurants where as soon as you walk in you know who the owner is. The family who own it are often eating there themselves when we come in and the television stays on the sports channel for their pleasure. The y have not changed their menu or themselves to accommodate the influx of tourists into their village. We order in our very best French, desperate not to seem like the atypical arrogant anglais who can not be bothered to stretch his tongue to please his hosts. If we make a mistake she kindly corrects us and when there is an issue with translating the puddings she will switch to sign language and indulge us in our guessing games but she will not use the English tongue and for this I admire her. Once when we had fondue there the lady who owns the place along with her sports fanatic husband took pity on our peasant ways and showed us herself how best to coat the futons in the melted pot of cheesy gold.
We usually have the same, a special salad which has a poached egg on top as well as little bits of bacon and croutons drenched in oil. It is delicious and if I was more of a fool I would ask her for the recipe. The salads are followed by steaks, chips and more devilishly dressed salad, I do not want or care to know how many calories I consume in this meal but every squat, sit up or stair climb I have to do to burn it off will be totally worth it. Even I, the ketchup queen, will happily go without red sauce because everything is cooked so well it would seem an insult to injure it by adding one’s own accompaniments.
Tonight, there was just a little bit of tension at the start of the meal and as I have been fearing a repeat of last years family feuding I turned to the drink as a distraction. I find it hard to relax and just be and whether or not it is wrong or healthy having a drink just brings me down a level and loosens me up. I am always on such a tightly wound string it is nice to lose a little control once in a while and as I had told myself earlier that day I am after all on my holidays. Though I did my best to take it easy, technically speaking the tablets I am taking do not exactly advise alcohol. Two glasses of delicious table wine later I was feeling fabulously free and when the owners decided after our drunken debate with a table of Irish men about who would win the rugby the next day we all drank to France’s victory with a liquor from 1946. It totally finished us all and the walk back was hilarious. I am standing in the photos but many did not work as I was swaying ever so slightly.
On the plus side on our return to the apartment rather than falling into the trap of desperately trying to keep the party going I got myself a glass of water, watched a bit of the football until I was forced to admit that all I could see was a red and green blur I slid under the duvet, typed a few words of my blog and slunk into the loveliest sleep I have had in days. I may well have fell off the wagon, but at least I didn’t get hurt.
- Today’s dress is a kaftan borrowed covertly from my mother whilst she was away in Chamonix. Knowing the only way she would find out is if she read the blog I decided to chance it as she should be doing her essay so should certainly not be browsing through her daughters drones. I know it is ridiculous but I wore it with a beret as when in Rome and all. The green jumper was loaned to me, with permission and everything from my older sister. I love it and am thinking of accidentally acquiring it during the course and the panic of our packing. We are sharing a room at the moment and it is great fun. The top is apparently from Asda and the shirt dress is from Marks & Spencer Autograph collection. I think it is meant to be a top. The pictures were taken by my sister’s boyfriend, James Cornish who is quite the amateur photographer and kept doing strange things like practice shots.
My mood has been all over the place today. The first part of the day I was feeling as high as a kite, after having a luxurious lie in and bubble bath I started snooping around the house for dresses to wear which were conservative enough for my visit to my new place of work to sign the contracts. After having a bit of a snoop in my mothers wardrobe I came across a combination of flowery shirts, one old dress which I know is her favourite and a kaftan top which is quite long. Though the shirt was too short and the dress was just to desirable to steal without first asking the long kaftan dress fitted just right and I added it to my pile of packing along with my dinner dance dress, a silk 1920s Vintage ball gown or bridesmaid dress and a jumper dress which may well be a tad too transparent. Having had such a productive start to the day I set about the task of finding an outfit for the day again. I tried on countless nighties with fancy belts and slimming slips, attempted to turn a skirt into a dress and even raided the giants wardrobe for shirts with “shirt dress” potential. Whatever I tried though just wasn’t right, although I was rather keen on one nightie when combined with a silk cotton 1970s French Connection sleeveless top, there was no way of getting around the behind issue; whichever way you looked at it the nightie was see through and as the contract I was signing was not an agreement to enter rear of the year I started to despair.
Having just about resigned myself to a “shirt dress” with a long coat which would never come off I traipsed downstairs for some tea. Imagine then my delight then when I stumbled across this dress which I had only received yesterday from my lovely London based friend. I had somehow completely forgotten about it and although it is a teeny-weeny bit tight and shows off every hump lump and bump it is a dress and it is black. To ensure the look was completely conservative I classed it up with some blue Marks & Spencer tights which I bought in one of their outlet stores for £1.50. I had to pour myself into the dress so I quickly did some evil squats and sit ups to prevent the seams from splitting once I felt confident enough to breathe in it. Once I got the hang of sucking in my stomach and throwing my shoulders back I loved wearing this dress and by the time I was ready to head down town I was feeling like a slinky with a hill to master rather than a set of stairs.
Unfortunately a slight damper was put on my day by the usual troubles with getting a prescription and having a uncomftarble conversation with a doctor I had never met before about why exactly I was on weekly prescriptions. ”I think it might be because they were worried I would take an overdose.” Que awkward silence followed by me grinning in a misguided attempt to lighten the mood which probably left me looking a little loopy. Couldn’t be helped but not the easiest start to an acquaintance by any measure. In spite of this little awkward moment I had a really rather lovely bubbly day. As well as signing my contract without bursting into tears of joy, I also found a bar in Market Harborough which has WiFi. It is called The Square Bar should anyone ever be around the area and is as pleasant a place to work as any. Delicious coffee, plenty of natural light and unlike Cafe Nero two doors down does not charge for internet access and gives you a warm glow for doing the right thing by local business.
I do not know when the anxiety started to kick in. It might have been after I got home and realised just how much I had to do. I have been putting off a couple of reviews and doing the women’s week proved more difficult than I thought. I am trying to find decent quotations and if possible direct quotes from the women in question particularly in letter form to give the postings more warmth and authenticity but all of this takes time and as we all know so well time has a habit of hurrying on regardless. To be fair the anxiety may have well been much to do with being alone in the house for a couple of days and having little contact with anyone other than shopkeepers and cyberspace. Usually there is at least one person in the house or even the dog to keep one company and I find it difficult being by myself for too long. I love the idea of getting my own place once I start work but perhaps I am more suited to the social aspects of sharing a flat.
Though I managed to get quite a bit done with a little help from the Glee massive, by the time I went to bed my head was ticking with all the things I wanted to do the next day and it was impossible to switch off. By all rights the dose of the dreaded nauseating Quetiapine should really be all that is required to send me into a near comatose state for eight hours but for some reason tonight it just never kicked in. Perhaps it was the eight cups of tea I drank whilst trying to stave off hunger pangs; the tablets stimulate ones appetite but I am desperate not to gain any more weight even though I know its shallow I just don’t feel I look like me and it makes me feel fed up. Whatever it was I ended up lying here till three am, trying to get to sleep and desperately trying to ignore all the unanswered questions in my head. I think it was about three that I gave up on getting any shut-eye and just decided to do the work I wanted to.
For months now I have been considering getting business cards but have not yet found a suitable site. Last night however whilst tweeting through the witching hour about my desire for prettily designed cards of my own with lostinnotation as my home I was sent a tweet from a stationary angel from across the pond. She writes a wonderful fashion blog called Prim Knickers and recommended me a decent site. I do not actually remember ordering them as I was so tired but here within my email is a confirmation of the 500 business cards I ordered. The difficulty of the internet for occasional insomniacs like myself is it allows you to do pretty much everything 24 hours a day. Decisions which would previously be denied to the sleep deprived are now available and openly promoted. Once after not having slept for five days I booked my boyfriend at the time a trip to Amsterdam for his 21st birthday, it cost me around £800, nearly all of my savings and for some unholy reason I had booked us in to The Botel, a boat which is also a hotel because I thought it sounded romantic. It was not, but there was no getting out of it because they had my card details and I had confirmed it. I sometimes think there should be a universal law for those who suffer from instances of mania no matter how brief that once they have emerged from their spell they should be allowed to take back all their ridiculous purchases and get a free refund. Alas they do not and so soon I will have 500 business cards, at least they look pretty.
- Dress today is on loan from Clara De Los Acres Diez. She is an utter legend and the dress is a great shape from Zara and with blue tights and Kurt Geiger boots it looks extra special. I wore my hair up today as I think it makes me look more serious plus it has started to get on my nerves and if it continues to fall into my face I will be getting a bob before you can say limp lank and lifeless.
This post has been difficult to put together, not because I have too few friends but because I am blessed to have so many. The only way I could think of to prevent this post turning into another never-ending essay was to try to decide which of my wonderful friends I would choose as bridesmaids if I was ever to get married. Although I am sure this list will put the fear of God into my parents financial five-year plan I couldn’t help but include so many and would have included more if I had not been trying to stop this post becoming a bore. Here in no particular order, other than the first who will always be my best friend, are the women in my life who have moved me to tears with their kindness, their generosity, their jokes and anecdotes and by always being there to clasp my hand tightly when everything around us has been falling apart.
Katharine Ryland – Whilst I was at university myself and Katherine lost touch for some time. It was inevitable in a way, although we had been the best of friends since we were 13 we both had such busy lives and it was hard to find the time to stay in touch. If I’m honest I always felt it was my fault that we’d drifted apart, she had started going out with a guy who I struggled to get on with and though I tried to hide it I’m sure she sensed it and ultimately I’m sure it effected our friendship. In spite of this we still saw each other from time to time and on my twenty-first-birthday she called me up to tell me she was pregnant. I was delighted for her but I still had another year of study up North and it wasn’t until I moved back home that we got properly back in touch.
We went out with her beautiful baby boy to Cafe Bruxelles and ended up having such a great day that I remember feeling really rather sad about all I had missed sharing with her and I made a decision to make more of an effort to get on with her partner; she was too good a friend to lose and after all she loved him and he made her happy so how could I not.
Not long after this lunch she got engaged and I was so pleased I got to share in her happiness when she told me her news. A few months later whilst out on a girls night in Leicester she turned to me and asked if I wanted to be her maid of honour. I can honestly say that even if I ever get engaged this will remain the happiest moment in my life; we had made a promise to one another when we were 16 in a bar in Lanzarote over a jug of sangria to be each other’s bridesmaids. I had assumed when she got engaged that she might ask someone else to take the job as we had been out of touch for so long so when she asked me I was ridiculously happy.
Although my dress ended up being made by her mother, when we first went shopping to find a dress I could wear she assured me I could pick anyone I wanted and whilst we were in the shop she tried on the dress she had chosen and I started to cry like a child at how beautiful she looked. The night before the wedding I stayed the night at her parents house and we shared her bed together as we had done years ago when we were kids. In the morning I helped her with her make up and getting dressed and did my best to soothe her little boy when he had a tantrum minutes before we were due to leave because he wanted to try on Mummy’s veil. There is a picture of the two of us arm in arm leaving the church and it looks as though we have just emerged from a civil ceremony and still cracks me up when I see it. She made a beautiful bride and I was inspired to give a speech after her husband and father had said their piece about what a wonderful woman she was and how truly lucky her husband was to have her by his side.
We have always shared everything with one another, although to begin with as an only child she did struggle with the concept of sharing clothing. We once had a massive fall out because she refused to let me wear her top as she was convinced I was going to stretch it. There was no secrecy or privacy between us when we were younger; after we got badly burnt on an overcast day in Devon after falling asleep together on the beach we got home and had to rub after-sun into each others ridiculous tan lines. As we soothed each others skin with aloe vera and very gentle application we were simultaneously cracking up with laughter at how silly we both looked.
We found the results of all our exams together and when we were on holiday in Lanzarote we crammed into a telephone booth on the sea-walk of Lanzarote giggling in disbelief at the amount of As Katherine had got. We also helped each other through the dark days; through heartbreak and troubles at home. It was Katherine who held my hand on the way back to my home after my parents had rung hers to ask if they could bring me home straight away because my sister had gone downhill fast and the doctors were concerned that she wasn’t going to make it through the night. She is hilarious, intelligent and caring and even with a baby boy to care for she did so well in her degree that when she graduated she had two jobs waiting for her. I will always be pleased we got back in touch, my life would be nowhere near as fun without her. I will save sharing some of my favourite memories of our friendship as she has asked if she can write a post about her three favourite memories of us but I imagine they might include the time I went skinny dipping with my sister on my sweet sixteenth in Eastbourne at midnight. Other than my sister it will be Katherine who I will tell if I ever find myself knocked up and it will be her who I will want by my side on the day of my wedding.
AC: When me and the boy first got together i always felt a little lonely when I was round at his house. he lived with six other guys, nearly all of who had long-standing girlfriends and I felt a bit of a spare wheel. The one girl who I immediately clicked with however was Anna. She had dreams of being a musical theatre star and although she enjoyed singing as much as me, people actually enjoyed it when she sang. This shared love of singing and a tendency to live our lives in a rather dramatic way means we have spent many a taxi ride home singing away even when the boys beg us to stop. When I met her I remember speaking about her with one of my friends and concluding that she was a natural beauty and that we were actually really rather jealous of her perfectly shaped eyebrows, white teeth and dancers figure. In the early days of our friendship I was rather worried that I might be a bit much for her, when I bumped into her in the library one day and started talking at her at a mile a minute about dissertations and exams and nights out I had been planning she appeared to be somewhat terrified. We became firm friends however after the boys moved to a smaller house and I think it may have helped that I opened my entire wardrobe to her and did my very best to put aside my reservations about vegetarians and would happily make her hippy friendly food whenever we had a dinner party.
The time I realised I had a friend for life was when she agreed to join me in getting dressed up as a witch to go and queue outside Waterstones for the release of the last Harry Potter book in the series. There are few friends who will partake in this kind of humiliation just to keep someone company but Anna came with me in spite of never having read any of the books. We spent the next fortnight driving the boys mad by shutting ourselves away in one of their rooms and banning them entry until we had read at least another four chapters. I think it was whilst we were lying on a bed repeating lines to one another which made us giggle that I realised I had got myself a friend for life who felt as much like a sister as my own blood.
Anna is one of those rare friends who will be by your side even when you have done everything in your power to try to hide away from the world. Three nights after I’d had a nervous breakdown and ended up in hospital I went to the launch of the boy’s first single. I was only able to do so because I had Anna with me the whole time, holding my hand reminding me that I wasn’t crazy and that everything was going to be OK even if it didn’t feel that way at the time. She is able to make me laugh at life events which are otherwise tragic and when me and the boy were having a heap of troubles last year it was Anna who held me whilst I cried my heart out over loss and love still to raw to share. We have both followed our dreams in life and I am sure I would not have had the guts to carry on going for mine if I hadn’t had her for inspiration. She never once gave up on her dream of playing a role in a musical and now she is touring the country playing the part of Neil Sedaka’s wife in the hit play, Laughter In The Rain. She is my Scrabble companion and the only one who is sweet enough not to tell me how dreadful a singer I really am.
In spite of my efforts not to make this an essay I have noticed that all to quickly the word count has crept us and so I will save the other five for another day, I promise you they are worth the space.
- Today’s dress has been donated by my Auntie Bridgeen. It was originally from Primark and thankfully has a slip to preserve my modesty. Katharine and my friend Monica took the photos and the reason I am cracking up in them is because Monica has just told me that I am in trouble with someone because of something I have said on the blog. The gingerbread man was made by Katherine’s son. Katherine gifted me another dress to wear whilst I was at her house, proof indeed that her issues with sharing have been resolved.
Come this Saturday me and the boy will have been going out four years. In spite of me having a fair few up and downs and in all honesty a couple of quite serious breakdowns during this time, I think the reason we have come the distance; aside from the fact that he has the patience of a saint and we still quite fancy one another; is because we have always right from the start applied the basic vows of marriage to our relationship. Now, I’m not one to say that marriage is essential to make a relationship work; I have plenty of friends who have got along quite nicely thank-you very much without ever feeling any urgent need to put a ring on it; but nevertheless I think that relationships work best when you apply principles such as “in sickness and in health”, “for richer for poorer”, and unless you have a really very cool/ liberal lover, “forsaking all others”.
When myself and the boy first met I was flat broke and though I was not looking for anything serious as tends to be the case we accidentally went and fell in love. At the time I was spending all my spare pennies on cigarettes and alcohol and because he was a sweetie and probably because he didn’t want to see me lose my rather curvaceous figure he kept feeding me fry ups and insisting on cooking me dinner. I remember one day when I was about to set off for home he slipped me a tenner to go and buy food. Ten minutes, 20 Marlborough mediums and a bottle of red later I came to the conclusion that yes 12p chicken noodles were a suitable source of nutrition.
Although he was the provider at the start of our relationship by the time I graduated I was making a tidy enough package so that if he was skint we could dip into my privy purse to pay for cinema outings, bottles of wine, nights on the tiles and steak.
The boy graduated two years after me, not because I am seeing a toy boy you understand but because he was rather more keen in being the drummer in every Mancunian band around the way than getting all academic. It was because he was still a student that when our one year anniversary came round, I ended up treating us to a holiday to Rome and when we were too lazy to cook it was me who paid for us to eat out in West Didsbury, Manchester’s one stop haven of heavenly cuisine.
When I lost my job though, both times, it was the boy who helped me pick up the pieces, kept me financially afloat when I was too proud to go to the job centre and who even helped me search through the rubbish to find a new role.
Although most of our relationship has been spent just below the poverty line we have always found ways to entertain ourselves; games of Scrabble where JB, Onions lead singer always wins; games of monopoly where I always win; tea and music; my ever more elaborate attempts at dinner parties for ten even when we have no table; gigs; walks in the woods; running (failed after one attempt when he smoked throughout whilst I had a series of small heart failings) tennis, technically not necessarily legally sound movies and more gigs. Although we loved it when I was making a tidy package money never brings happiness and as Neil Sedaka’s wife says to him in Laughter In The Rain, “Sometimes I miss the cold days.” Struggling together is terribly romantic and there’s nothing quite like playing cards through the night with nothing to fuel you but a pot of decaf tea.
The other issue is of course the sickness and the health. Luckily the boy is fine and dandy other than the occasional sulk and the dreaded man flu, according to the boy he has single handedly fought off swine flu and is a pillar of strength in the face of modern medicine most of which he views as being in some way linked to a conspiracy of making us weak. Maybe because of this, when we first met I waited till June to come clean with him about my crazy. I didn’t want to scare him away and if I’m honest I thought I had completely recovered, love does wonderful things for your brain and your body; eating becomes a chore and your entire mind turns to mush. if you don’t watch out you end up boring all of your friends to sleep by talking about how fabulous your lover is. Luckily however, by the time me and the boy got together I was a cynic about love and when he etched the words “I love you” on my back I told him to, “Get a grip”.
When I told him about my poorly head it was because I had decided to come off the anti-depressants I’d been taking for two years. Buoyed up by love and the wonderful newness of it all I didn’t think I needed them. With his approval and no advice from any medical practitioner I came off the drugs. Within a month I crashed so hard and so fast that some days I couldn’t even look in the mirror because I felt so ugly and frustrated with what I saw. I put on weight and because getting out of bed was so hard I would sleep for hours and rather than looking for work I would watch West Wing episodes convinced there was no point trying because I was useless. In the end I had to move home so I could survive. The boy did try to support me but he was still a student and one part-time job shared between two people equals not a lot left to live on.
With the help of some friends in the know, my family and the boy I managed to pick myself back up but it wasn’t easy. Every time I go down hill it is always the boy who has been there over these last few years who is there straight away to drag me back up again. Every time I get poorly he’s there to wipe away my tears, calm me and convince me that the world is a good place and that things will get better.
On one poorly head occasion when we somehow found ourselves at A and E after a particularly bad reaction to Sertraline, (the name still gives me the shudders), we came face to face with a psychiatrist who had obviously decided he was not a fan of women. After deciding, from looking at me rather than my notes you understand, that I was anorexic with father issues he banned the boy from hugging me, told me there was nothing wrong with me and then finished by telling me I should just go ahead and give up then and live in a mental health ward. Thankfully both the boy and the psychiatrists assistant realised I was just extremely anxious in a very scary place and needed to get some sleep and the boy got me the hell away from him before had a chance to lock me up and throw away the key.
I have never forgotten what he did that day and acknowledge that what ever happens with us in the future, without him being by my side that day I could still to this day be living in a closed ward, misdiagnosed and miserable overseen by the most tyrannical mentally unstable medical professional I have ever come across.
We never signed any contract when we got together but both of us always find a way to work it out, scream it out or just forgive regardless. I like to think that its because he like me knows that whatever our problems with us when its good it’s so very good, though at times we can of course both be wicked.