2018, America, Opinion, Thoughts

Media Deprivation

This week, as part of my Artist’s Way book course, [which is a self-guided course in creative rejuvenation and recovery], I underwent what is termed as a ‘Media Deprivation’ week.

Media Deprivation could be thought of as the ‘Digital Detox’s’ cousin; similar in many respects, with similar aims and justifications for what they do, but with a slight difference in each.

So what is a Media Deprivation, you may ask?

It’s any stretch of time without any taking in of media of any sort. Kinda like a fast for your mind.

So, no reading. At all.

This is the big point that the author makes. She wants us all to stop taking in information and consuming, and start producing. Instead of reading a novel, she would have us write instead. Or paint, or jog or exercise, take up a class in language, etc. And no news means having to actually get your information from a person, not a newspaper, website or social media site, with the hopes of re-engaging with live people.

No tv, no films, no visual media at all.

I wasn’t sure how I felt about this. I was feeling quite apprehensive. To me, all of these things are so important to most, if not all of us. Many of us rely upon social media for their livelihood, not to mention keeping in touch with loved ones and family, and most of all, for entertainment.

Believe me, I love nothing more than spending hours on Youtube watching anything and everything or wasting time on Facebook and Twitter.

And, at this point of view after having completed this Media Deprivation week, I see that I personally waste so much time on these things, not getting up to much at all.

 

So, how was it?

 

I hated it. At least at the start. The first 2 or so days felt as though I had been crushed by an anvil and deflated of any sort of emotion besides panic and boredom. I didn’t know what to do with myself besides continue on with my job hunt, write and journal, or go out for walks about town and sit in parks with my trusty journal or camera.

I felt resentful. I felt downcast and frustrated as well as panicked in those first few days. I could sense my mood darkening as I struggled to make sense of what I was to do with myself to occupy my time, and more importantly, my mind.

But, after this initial period of confusion, I did begin to notice some change. As I grew to accept the fact that I couldn’t simply google something I didn’t know, I would jot it down on a piece of paper to ask my husband when he got home. We would sit and talk, and he would look things up or inform me of things going on.

I couldn’t sit around and waste time on Youtube, so I wrote instead. It became easier for me to sit down and just start writing or typing. Anything. It didn’t have to be of any magnitude. It didn’t have to be Shakespearean prose. I just had to get writing. I began to think, ‘well, if I can’t read, I may as well be writing something’.

I noticed that my conversations with people became slightly more enriched, as I wasn’t constantly reaching for my phone and being distracted by it and its constant notifications. I was able to look people in the eye with clarity and not look away in shyness.

I felt lighter and a touch better about myself as I wasn’t going on dating apps or on Insta, with its endless parade of gorgeous gay men to make my spirits deflate.

By Wednesday I felt almost giddy as I got dressed and went to perform at the opera that night. A lightness came over me, as though I could do anything, as I skateboarded up to the grand old SF Opera house.

In the dressing room, where I would usually be stuck on my phone waiting for the call to head up on stage to perform, I instead sat there and just took it all in. The way the room looked, the heat of it as it was underground and stuffy, the fantastic costumes sitting on their racks, the din of my fellow supernumerary extras chatting away. All minor details that I may have missed, and that soon enough I would as it was my second last performance. I thought that I may never be back here so be sure to take it all in now.

I spoke to one of my compatriots, who upon asking me how I was, I responded with my being on a media deprivation week and it being a challenge. His eyes lit up and he made note that my attention and spirits seemed far more present than usual, as he noticed that I tended to be on my phone quite a bit.

We chatted briefly upon the merits of media deprivation and digital detoxes as means for clearing out the mind and helping one be aware of their usage of social media, and the repercussions thereof. He too had done some similar work and found it to be challenging yet engaging and of worth.

The next night, I attended my very first Baseball game.

I felt exhilarated and most importantly at all, present. The lights somehow shined brighter, the colours appeared far more vivid and the noise of the crowds heightened.

 

By the weekend, [which was San Francisco Pride], I felt pretty great. I’d not been on Facebook or Twitter the whole week and felt no compunction to check back in, I kept my checking on emails to a minimum and I had logged out of the apps; I enjoyed a weekend of sipping beers in sunny, packed with people Dolores park with friends; attending the Trans march, and dancing the night away.

 

The lesson that I learned from this week was that we have killed collectively the idea of ‘boredom.’.

 

We are always stimulated, much of the time overly, if not terminally, so.

We are bombarded every day, every moment from when we wake to when we sleep with imagery, sounds, visuals and new fads and memes and celebrity gossip and bad news over and over in wave after wave.

 

It feels like some kind of dystopian sci-fi nightmare sometimes. I often wonder what someone from any point up to the early 1990’s would make and think of our world today, and how we are quite addicted to social media.

Just slightly jiggling out of this all for just even a week was like taking a great big breath of fresh mountain air.

It has made me aware of how I consume and use media, specifically social media. Of how much time I waste there, how much of my life is there, and how it has caused the death of boredom. Of how neglectful I can be of interpersonal relationships.

 

Believe me, I know I won’t get rid of social media for a very long time, if at all. It is all something we do really need, and it has made our lives all the better in many ways.

 

Perhaps I’ll make it a more prolonged experience in future.

 

Still, I recall as a kid mum always saying ‘only boring people are boring’. She was kind of right, as I would always go back to my mainstays of reading or playing with lego or going bike riding down the park back in those pre-internet days of the early 1990’s. The point was, I always managed to find something to occupy my time without just simply consuming passively.

 

This last week, I found boredom to be a good thing.

It got myself busy, it got me to be more productive, thoughtful and importantly, social with everyone I came in contact with.

 

It helped me to see life a little more clearer, and to be a bit mindful of how I use all of this technology, as we’re all people underneath this shroud of social media, and I feel we are easy to forget this.

Advertisements
Standard
2018, Gay, Gayblog, Life, Opinion

The Person I Want To Become

It can be great to think of the kind of person you want to be, and picture that image framed in your mind’s eye, and hold it as a kind of fuzzy objective.

However. Your mind can wander out of focus and enter the enchanted lands of fantasy, far removed from reality when picturing the ideal that you want for yourself. It can intoxicate and drug you, and leave you disappointed with your reality.

I find it both alluring yet galling, pondering on the type of person I imagine I want to become. There is an inherent sense of unreality when you think about what kind of person you wish to be in the future. And a sense of dread and fear that you may never reach this pinnacle of ideal.

Naturally, you would want to be the best version of yourself in the future that you can possibly be. This might be different for us individually, but I’m sure most if not all of us want to be successful and prosperous, fit and healthy, wise yet humble and yeh why not, attractive, both in personality and soul.

I feel as though out there somewhere in this world, or a parallel one just mirroring ours, there’s another version of me of whom embodies those qualities above.

He’s confident in himself and his abilities. He smiles more than I do. He hates himself far less than I do, and in fact isn’t too proud to admit that he loves himself. Obvs, not in an egotistical kind of way. More the way someone who exudes self-confidence would be able to make that sort of self-acknowledgement.

The person I want to become is successful both in terms of career as well as personal life. He works a job, or better yet, has a career that he enjoys which also happens to keep him comfortable in life. He doesn’t worry or stress about his financial situation, and is savvy when he needs to be, thrifty yet not a miser.

He is generous to a fault to those he loves and holds dear, yet is a good judge of character, and has no problem standing up to himself when he perceives he is done wrong by. He is an ardent believer in loyalty being the number one quality and virtue in a friendship or relationship, yet will be able to deal in a fair and adult manner when he feels a friendship is not being reciprocated.

This personage of the future goes to the gym regularly, looks after himself and eats well. He likes being social and goes out, and doesn’t suffer from anything as silly as social anxiety which has made past Alessandro fill with fear and stay home, missing out on at times a lot of fun.

He is calm and collected, and doesn’t have anymore negative dialogue in his mind which once plagued his mind. He sleeps and rests fully at night, and will more often than not get a full night’s sleep.

This is the kind of person I want to become. Basically a pastiche of all the things I see in people I know, like or admire.

 

And yes, an amalgamation of pretty much every self-help book I’ve come across and read.

Which is quite a bit.

I know that this person would come across perhaps as too perfect, however. Maybe he’s just the end sum and total of the concepts and ideals of what I want to be, but not a whole package in terms of what makes up a person.

If there’s anything I’ve learnt over the past few years, it’s that our imperfections make us who we are. The imperfections form our character and that thing that makes us special. It’s the little scars, the wrinkles, the furrowed brows or laughter lines and that lived experience and foibles we all have that make us the best we can be, however.

This then, is the person I want to become. Not perfection manifested, a character akin to an old family sitcom or worse yet a character from a Brett Easton Ellis novel, but a person trying their best, and doing their best in life.

What kind of person do you want to become?

Standard
2018, America, Gay, Gayblog, Life

Decision Making

What’s the biggest decision you’ve ever had to make? How did you make it? Was it the right choice?

 

The biggest decision I’ve ever had to make was to decide whether to go with my partner of 8 years to San Francisco, possibly for an indefinite time, or stay home in Sydney Australia. It’s really been the biggest, monumental and life-changing decision I have ever had to make. We’ve had to make. It was tough. It was draining.

 

It was also exciting and something to look forward.

 

It’s been just about six months since we moved. I still can’t believe that we’ve done this. I still can’t believe that I’m here. That we’ve made this seismic shift, this gigantic earth-shaking change that has indelibly transformed our lives. It’s not been easy. There have been second thoughts, concerns, arguments and fights.

Moving with a partner to another country is a very challenging thing, especially when you move so far from your home. Home for us isn’t a short plane trip away. So far from the familiar, from the known and from what is comfortable. You only have each other for support and guidance, and that can be quite a lot for just two people.

There are times when I miss my family, my home city and friends and logical family too. I’ll see a post on instagram and my heart breaks a little. Blue skies, beaches, Victorian terraces, pubs filled with people and queer parties where everyone looks so happy and bright.

We came to this decision after months and months of unending talks and discussions. Almost a year of back and forward in fact. We went over everything. Every possible outcome, scenario, issue and challenge. Pros and cons. At one point the entire thing was cancelled out as we thought it wasn’t going to happen.

We spoke and spoke and disassembled, had little tussles about it, and tried to be as honest to each other as we could. Even once it was all confirmed, we had months and months to go till we moved, as the move date kept getting pushed back. So yet more time to think and deliberate. Originally we were to move in April. Then May. Then September. And then finally November came around, and our ticket was bought. We had so much to do and take care of.

I remember the printed calendar I made and all the tasks we needed done for each day on little post-its.

No wonder we both felt so frayed and worn once we finally arrived here in SF. And in the middle of winter to add. We really don’t give ourselves enough credit.

 

Yes, at times, we have both questioned what we have done, and the choice we have made. The first few months here especially so. It felt as though we were thrown into a washing machine, spun around, rinsed repeat spun, then thrown out into this new and strange place.

We fought, we got on each others nerves, emotions became frayed as we tried our hardest, our best, to keep ourselves and our lives together. We tried hard to stay upbeat and positive, to get out more and meet people. It wasn’t easy at all. Again, really this move has been the hardest thing I personally have ever done, considerably so as I’m quite the reflective person. It is in my nature to think upon life, choices made and those encountered upon the way.

 

But, do I think this was the right choice we made, to come halfway across the world, and leave all those we love and all that we know?

 

Yes. In a heartbeat.

 

Sometimes I imagine what life would have been like if we stayed in Sydney, and the opportunity to move to America never came up. Life would be sublime. Comfortable. Bucolic. Fun. Always full of laughs and light and sun. That rhymed. I actually didn’t mean for it to.

 

But, nothing would have changed. I know this. I would have stayed in this comfort zone for such a long time. I feel as though my growth would have been stunted, and we would be in static. As much as I miss the place and the loved ones there [really I do], moving to another country and town has been the best thing for me. You need change in life in order to evolve and experience. Sometimes we need to be picked up and shook about.

 

My regret would be if we didn’t do this. The regret would be impossible for me to live with. I would hate myself for not giving it a go. I picture myself in this alternate world where we never moved, and I imagine myself living in San Francisco, and I can feel the envy.

I’m in the right place. I can feel this with every part of me, and I don’t regret our decision for a second.

 

What’s the biggest decision you’ve ever had to make?

Standard
Uncategorized

Ten years ago.

We often look ahead without taking the time to look at how far we’ve come.

Today I thought on what my life was like ten years ago.

 

Ten years ago, in 2008, my life would have looked like this:

 

I would have been about a year into my Photography degree back in Sydney, which I can say I remember fondly. I did have a lot of fun going to the art college I attended, and living the life of an art student.

Relatively carefree, at the peak of my creativity. Living life in a light and harmless manner.

Sometimes, I do miss that carefree aspect of life that many like myself were lucky enough to have had, even for a few short years. I really do wish I had made more out of it and experienced more of life back then, but I refuse to put myself down anymore, as life only gets better with each passing month and year.

I remember the flexibility, the freedom, the time spent working on tasks that felt so very important in my life. I remember the staff there, including the sweet and amiable head of photography, as well as the arrogant teacher whose ideas were terrible and lied about his past experiences [he once claimed to have taken photos of Twiggy and designed an Electric Light Orchestra cover], as well as his almost opposite in the form of the most capable, sweet and genius teacher whose skill in lighting was phenomenal.

How to light something correctly. How to edit something with finesse in photoshop.

The irony is, all of that is pretty much now done away with.

It’s a funny thing, realising you may have wasted years of your life on a discipline that was dying, and now a decade later, really kind of is in its death throes. Instagram really did a number on photography. At times, I do regret having not switched over to graphic design as I know it would have been far more applicable and adaptable for a career. Mistakes are made to be learnt from.

However, the truth is, I write this in another country and in a relationship with a guy who would change my life just a year later.

Had I not attended this art school or even did photography there, the chances are we would never have met, and I wouldn’t be writing this in San Francisco. Most likely I would not be writing this at all.

Ten years ago I would have been right in the midst of agonising depression. I spent years living with this without any help or assistance or outreach, and it would be a very long time indeed until I would work on this part of myself. My moods ran to darkness very easily; I found it difficult to enjoy life. I found it difficult to make lasting friends.

I felt so isolated and alone. This is the aspect of this time in my life I recall vividly. I craved any human contact with anybody, and by this point in life I was almost entirely celibate. I worked weekends at restaurants owned by relatives; a gruelling, thankless and difficult line of work I now refuse to go back to. I rarely had the opportunity to go out as after a shift on a Saturday night I tended to head home from exhaustion. Sometimes, we may have gone to a local pub for a drink perhaps. I think I may have been to a gay bar only a few times at this point.

Besides attending bars and clubs, back then there was really no way to meet people like today with apps and social media. All of that was still in its infancy and only just starting to gain traction. I still had a flip phone Motorola Razr which I absolutely adored and consider the best phone I ever had.

So, meeting people was tough.

I did have a friendship with someone in this year; which in hindsight meant something very different for the both of us. It was a very heightened, almost manic friendship. We hung out a lot and did a lot together. This time was replete with emotion, and confusion, and a lack of awareness and intention that I subsequently learned from. We had a lot of fun, yet this friendship ultimately ended for a number of reasons, and did not end in the most positive manner, which took quite the while for me to work through and process.

But, like everything, we all learn from our past transgressions.

Thinking back to this point in my life, it was rife with aimlessness, a sense of airiness, confusion, insecurities. And a lackadaisical attitude generally towards the future. It’s difficult for me to reflect too much on this time. Yet I can see just how far I have come.

Physically, mentally and emotionally. I’m a far more centred and relaxed person. I am far more confident in myself and my abilities. I am in a great relationship. I have lived and experienced life in as best a way I can and will continue to do so.

 

What were you doing 10 years ago?

Standard
2017, America, Gay, Gayblog, Life, Thoughts, writing

My Writing Process.

My writing process is quite simple. I try to set aside some time, preferable each day, and preferably somewhere light and airy. My work space will typically be quite organised, clutter free and minimal in what needs to be there. The less ‘stuff’, the better.

I find that I write best and most effectively when I have a clean and clutter-free space. To me, this is paramount. My mind works best when everything is organised. I tend to concentrate more, gain inspiration and let those streams of thought enter into the room. I guess I’m a creature of order.

Some prefer a degree of chaos and a ‘organised mess’ as it were, in order to get inspired and to really get those creative juices flowing. To me, a chaotic mess means an unorganised mind, and an inability to analyze or complete tasks.

And that’s my biggest fear, as well as a massive motivator for having such a precise and agreeable workspace. It seems that without this, I can’t get a thing done.

Having only just recently moved countries, all the way to San Francisco from Sydney, finding a place to sit, work and process has proved to be challenging. For the last 6 weeks we were staying in a temporary flat, and to be honest, as lovely a building and place as it was, it felt uninspiring, dull and not amenable to me feeling comfortable or uplifted enough to write. It had an air of being generic. Knowing that its sole purpose as a temporary abode felt disheartening to me.

This space proved its worth as a short-term home, but even so, trying to get off my backside to write was incredibly difficult in this time.

I really did drop the ball. As part of my day, I wanted to write for even at least a half hour. I would bring my husband’s unused laptop downstairs to the luxuriously appointed common lounge, which looked like a ski lodge, replete with fireplace and comfy oversized chairs.

I’d set the laptop up on the communal table, get myself a glass of water, and try my hardest to put words to screen as it were. Yet I found myself more often than not simply staring at a blank screen, somehow unable to get thoughts into the laptop. I was at a roadblock.

And as it stands, in that whole time, I only ever managed to get two posts out.

In some six weeks.

Funnily enough, I ended up using my old back-up of a small Moleskine notebook and started writing thoughts in it every couple of days. It’s proved to be invaluable, having that small innocuous notebook around. I make sure to carry it about wherever I am.

I always remember my old photography teacher would say you must carry a camera everywhere you go in order to consider yourself a true photographer. Well, to be honest, I’m not going to lug an insanely cumbersome [not to mention expensive] piece of equipment about in my semi-sketchy neighbourhood.

Rather, I’m happy to carry about my small and highly portable notebook, which in a way is far more valuable than any camera.

We just finally found and moved into our new place, and have finished unpacking and setting it up. We’ve taken everything from home and brought it here, including my trusty desk and now ancient, ten-year old iMac which I’m using to write this post. Which to its credit, just keeps on truckin’ along.

My desk now resides in our bed room, a far cry from my little alcove back home. Our bedroom is a simple room with large windows that face the sun and let light great big dollops of light into the room. The room itself is simply appointed. Two bedside table flanking our bed, a mirror leaning against the wall and my desk next to that. All I have on my desk besides my computer is a desk lamp, an old camera as a reminder of the past, a hard drive, and a glass of water [on a coaster of course].

I feel some affinity with my favourite author, Haruki Murakami, whom also keeps a quite understated and a simple set-up desk. Everything he needs is there, as well as some decorative items of significance. There are no piles of books or paper, or anything that appears out of its place. I feel as though his desk is therefore a reflection of his manner of writing, which is everything I admire: simple yet effective, minimal and understated yet so subtle and with an intrinsic inspired genius who will make you spellbound in his prose.

I love his writing, as he makes the simple act of cooking a meal for one alone a grand affair.

My workspace, as you can see, is my writing process incarnate. If I’m somewhere attractive, relatively peaceful and homely, I am able to get myself writing and more importantly, posting for the world to see.

If you write, what is your process? Like me, do you need your own space, your own aerie, or do you prefer to be out in the world?

Standard
2017, Australia, Gay, Life, Thoughts

Family Ties.

My relationship with my immediate family has been strained of recent, if I can be honest. Moving away to a brand new country soon has made me anxious and nervous, and in all truth, my family haven’t really been as involved or supportive as I thought. There doesn’t seem to be much dialogue happening past the obligatory freak outs about me not being in the same town, or country any more. Mum carries on a treat, loses her cool and breaks down into what I see as melodrama, wishing I wasn’t going, simulating crying over the fact and generally lacking real empathy for me, or the fact that this is going to be the biggest, most difficult challenge I have ever had in my life.

 

I know she’s happy for me  but all she seems to want to say to me or display is the fact that I’ll be going perhaps indefinitely. She will mock-cry and moan, as though I have literally stabbed her. Typical Italian Catholic guilt tactic.. I wish she was more understanding and perhaps took more time out to see me. I get frustrated when I tell her we only have so much to go till we leave, yet we are never able to spend much time together. And when we do, it feels forced and it is always inevitable a short length of time. Maybe I’m just getting older, and have less connection with her, and same with my dad for that matter. The way I’m treated at times it’s as though I’m still 16, not 33. Perhaps if I was a straight man with a wife and a child things would be different. Perhaps I would be treated akin to those cousins I have with children and conventional marriages. More respect, and less sickly sweet condescension. I really don’t know. It just irks me and frustrates me when my mother feigns a breakdown, [albeit a very poorly acted out one] about how she’s never going to see me as much and how she’ll miss me. Not how happy and excited for me she is. It seems as though she doesn’t understand how much this hurts and how debilitating it is, and just makes me see clearer that my family and I really do have a tenuous relationship. I’m simply too far removed these days, in spirit and mind, and soon distance. I’m going to be very far away.

 

Maybe mum will be happy for me when I go. I hope so. Perhaps she’ll not take me for granted. I just wish she would just come see me even unannounced. I feel like this is a natural family occurrence, yet is something my family never does. I’m just as to blame for this. I would never just turn up at my sister’s door for a coffee. And neither would any of them. We’re just not that kind of family. We’re far too independent minded, our lives have simply grown apart, and the truth is we don’t need each other as much as we used to. It remains the fact that my only sibling, an older sister and I are getting older. We’re both in our 30’s, work hard, have partners and a social life outside of family. A life, in short. For me, it has taken a very long period of time to get to this point. I’m sad to leave it all behind, but I know I have to do this. My heart tells me that in my parents eyes, we will always be children that need them and depend on them. Especially so for my dad. I feel so much guilt at the thought that our relationship has grown strained and estranged. The harsh truth is that it has. I rarely see him. He has a way of making me see the bad parts of myself, glaringly and jarringly so. I know he wants what is best for me, but doesn’t get that I think I’m doing OK. He will straight up tell me what I’m doing wrong, why I don’t do something else instead and will do so in a condescending manner. He lectures me on the failings of my life every time I see him. And this makes me feel rather bad about myself. I tend to leave feeling deflated and spiraling into melancholy. It takes me so much energy and will to go see him, and every week I don’t my heart pangs with regret and guilt. I don’t know how much longer the guy will be about for. He’s getting on and isn’t the spry, energetic figure he once was in my adolescence. Hearing second or third hand about his plight and how he’s sad and suffering depression because he rarely sees his kids makes me feel terrible. I sometimes feel as though we shouldn’t even be a family at all because we are such disparate creatures.

 

I don’t know what’s going to happen in the future. I imagine it will just get worse and worse, as I won’t be about for birthdays, Easters and Christmases and the like. I hope things can change.

Standard
2017

Family

I can’t actually remember the last time my immediate family were together, it’s been that long. My parents divorced in 2003, which is now a decade and a half ago, if you can believe that. It feels like forever ago as well, the fateful days when I was in my early twenties, living without a care on my own, working weekends at my uncle’s restaurant and studying at uni during the week feeling far removed from life presently. I feel as though I didn’t spend my days well back then, and now I’m frantically back pedalling for lost time.

So, it’s been a very long time since my immediate family were even in the same 3 kilometer radius, let alone together in the same room. I think, if memory serves, it was in 2009.

A sole 3 weeks after Adrian and I started dating.

One night, after what could only have been described as a romance-filled, sweet evening of walking around the city to see the Vivid festival [the first one held mind you, which was much more of a simple, art-student affair than the multi-million dollar event it is these days]; we came back home and were accosted by someone who followed us from the train station on the street where I was living at the time at my dad’s place.

Long story short, I ended up in Concord Hospital in quite possibly the most acute pain I have ever felt right up to this day. My jaw was smashed. I had black eyes which meant I wasn’t able to see very well. Blood was gushing out of my face, and the only way to stop it was clamping my broken jaw down on to gauze in an attempt to stem the flow.

I still remember clearly the sensation of my teeth not being in a neat row. I could move my broken jaw like tectonic plates. The sensation of this is something that still makes me recoil slightly. They rubbed up and down each other. One side was much higher than the other, as I probed it with my blood-sodden tongue. It was a clean break right through my jaw bone. Still to this day the left-hand side of my jaw doesn’t clamp together quite as uniformly as they once did, and I will permanently have a strange tingling sensation on the left side of my lips and lower left hand side of my face. Especially in the morning when I wake up, for some reason.

It’s funny how quickly, simply and with even some degree of finesse and elegance one’s life can change in such complete finality. I was bisected. The night before this incident was one of the most enjoyable and love-filled I had experienced yet. The remainder of the night was crushing, traumatic and filled with an absolution of dolorous pain and disbelief. Similarly, I feel as though my life has been bisected into -pre and -post periods. The post me became a much more wary, distrusting and introverted character than its ‘-pre’ forerunner.

This is the rather dour context that would have been the last time my immediate family and I were together, in a cold and austere patient ward in a run-down ramshackle hospital. It took me being assaulted and being hospitalized for a week for my parents to be even in the same room together, even if only for a brief period of time, namely, under an hour.

The mood was stark, uncomfortable and bare. Like the hospital room, the general tone was devoid of anything warm or decorative. There was a lack of love or closeness or any affection at all. Tension pervaded the very air.

Very little was spoken about, and what conversation or even communication was minimal, necessary and bizarrely efficient. My parents had no volition to be there at all. I was the only reason they were persevering with this experience.  Since this uncomfortable and necessary collaboration, I think my parents have only had minimal contact when absolutely necessary, and even then it seems brief and only to the point.

Family for me then has become a concept of receding and vestigial importance. A wave rolling back out into the ocean after crashing on to the shore. At least with regards to blood ties. I feel as though my friends are now more familial and close to my soul than my own family. They know me well. This hurts me to say, but I don’t think I trust my parents or would be able to count on them if things went awry. And this is ok. I’ve become a fiercely independent creature, something which was first seeded and incubated that day when I was 20, and told my parents I was moving out, with literally just my mattress clenched in my arm.

Definitions of family and familial love differ for everyone, I’m extremely lucky to have had a family at all, not to mention a roof over my head. Yet there was a definite strain in my family since I was a youngster. A sense that all was not right, and that an invisible expiry date was stamped on us. Which turned out to be true.

Standard