My age is young enough to be ridiculously naive, but old enough to be stupidly cynical and bitchy, and in-the-middle enough to be effectively a child…
I rediscovered blogging at a good time. My age is currently twenty. This time next week, I will be 21. And that’s okay.
For the last several years, my birthday has been plagued with guilt. The guilt comes from the memory of a scrawled entry that thirteen-year-old me made in her diary, which I do not currently have in front of me, but if memory serves me well it was something like: ‘I don’t want to make it to 14. 13 has a sort of quiet dignity to it. End it before you get to 14.’ I definitely said ‘quiet dignity’ but the rest is paraphrasing.
Effectively, carrying this guilt about my own survival has soured the concept of my birthday since then, and I suppose this is the first year I’ve come to terms with my stubbornly continuing existence. However vehemently I have tried to destroy the meat suit, it has carried me this far.
Present me feels torn. This feels like a confession. Dirty. How dare I accept the fact that I am alive. (Fact…eh, well, evidence indicates that I am alive, there’s time for existential angst in another post). Where did this audacity come from. What a disappointment to thirteen-year-old me.
I finally feel able to challenge that. Gently, because thirteen-year-old me was unsustainably sensitive and buckled under the slightest hint of confrontation. Let’s not be too mean to her.
So, Smol Bailey, who does not wish to survive to see the age of 14. Things have changed a lot since you were around. You have moved away from home. Crossed the Atlantic eight times (four trips). You’ve got a little bit taller, but not much. I’m sorry you grew so early. That did not help things. But I finally saw the tenth Tall Lady Wearing Heels a couple of months ago, so I now own a pair of heeled boots. You would not have made that decision. That’s okay, you weren’t ready. This is what acceptance is.
Your left arm, I am sorry to say, is richly textured in a pattern that looks like tweed (according to Alice). I carry in my wallet the note that she scribbled and tore out in the shape of a tiny heart that says she loves tweed. This is what acceptance is.
Additionally in terms of arm-decoration, you have a small bee tattooed on your left wrist. His name is Arthur, like Arthur Dent. He helps you cope and reminds you of two things. One, that you quite like bees. That’s why you got the tattoo. Two, it’ll remind you of your friend Sami, who you’ll meet soon. Sami is going to change your life. I am still waiting to return the favour. Sami said, ‘You can fly despite what they say’. Everyone’s heard the urban myth about how bees shouldn’t be able to fly, that it goes against the very laws of physics, that the scientists are simply baffled that these precious tiny workers manage to leave the ground. Bees shouldn’t be able to fly but they do anyway. I’ve been told that my stuff is similar, in a way. I shouldn’t be able to keep going after everything but I guess I do. There isn’t a way to phrase that without sounding terribly egotistical. Apologies.
Further research has given me this Wisdom Nugget: ‘They found that a honeybee typically flaps its one-centimetre-long wings 240 times a second, each beat covering an arc of only 90 degrees. Other insects flap at no more than 200 times a second, with each stroke beating over a 165-degree arc.’ (Ian Sample, ‘Secret of bees’ flight revealed’, The Guardian, 29/11/2005.) Me too, bees. Doctors, therapists, counsellors, psychiatrists, psychologists, pharmacological-supervisors etc etc have told me that my condition makes basic things – eating, socialising, working, having fun and letting go, enjoying life – harder for me than for most. My condition makes it look as though everyone else is an albatross. Soaring. No effort. 10,000 miles in a single journey (Ian Johnston, ‘How the unflappable albatross can travel 10,000 miles in a single journey’, The Independent, 17/11/2013). I shouldn’t compare their ‘dynamic soaring’ with my own frantic, frenzied flapping. I’m flapping my hardest. That’s okay. This is what acceptance is. (Some, I know, are hummingbirds in albatross suits. I see you and I respect you so much.)
So, Smol Bailey. There’s more to tell you but I have to go and do things now. I hope you don’t feel too let down by my decision to live. We’ll go through that another time.
Present me is here for a reason. I must be. There must be an explanation for all this somewhere, I just have to keep looking. /reflecting. /sifting the temporal flour of my past in an attempt to add texture and substance to my incomplete present.