I sit here wrapped up in a thick fleece blanket and sipping a mug of Twinings Superblend Calm – it’s about all I can bring myself to manage right now.
I got invited out for a dog walk with my mother and brother today, and almost straight away I knew it was a bad idea. Why the hell did I even agree to go?
“I’m not driving today” my mother said. Initially, I was confused. But then it made sense. She isn’t – my newly qualified brother is.
I was forced to sit in the car and coo and ahh and say nice things about my brother’s new driving capabilities. I was happy and proud for him, really, I mean it.
“We’ve both things to be proud of, bro. Perhaps should celebrate?” I said grinning. I made a comeback yesterday, and I was proud, so proud of Ten Shades & Me.
“Mmm, but when do you start making money?” my Mum asked. Instantly, I felt my good mood plummet. In my family, subscribers count for nothing, and how much money your earn underscores your success. If you aren’t making money from it, your biggest passion can be considered as nothing more than a hobby.
As we walked around the park, I fell back and held in the tears. Nothing I did, nothing I could ever do in my family would qualify me for being good enough. No money? No hope.
Mum and my brother walked ahead and talked among themselves. Very occasionally they checked back to see how I was doing, and then they carried on.
“You alright, sis?” my brother asked.
“Hmm? I’m fine” I said quietly. I wasn’t, I was tense, stressed, angry. The tears welled and threatened to come out.
“You’re not, are you?” he said softly.
“I just.. it’s all about the money,” I began, “but I can’t sell shit if I don’t have a fanbase. Nobody wants to read from someone who writes if they don’t have a fanbase behind them.” I went on. The tears were no longer held back, they were there.
“And anyway, I don’t give a fuck about money. I like helping people, that’s all I care about! But that counts for shit around here..” I whispered, glaring harshly at the back of my mother.
By the time we got halfway around the park for the second time, I was back on my own. My mother and brother were talking among themselves, and no amount of talking to my brother about fanbases and collaborations was going to start a conversation. It was a no-brainer, if it’s not earning me money, so they just don’t care for my blog. I could feel the tension building up, the ache that needed to come out. Inhaling and lifting my face into the cold air, I remembered how wholesome it felt to surrender control. I remembered why I do what I do. I remembered what I love.
This is it. This is me. Home.
All afternoon, success was defined by learning to drive. If you drive, it seems. You’re an adult. If you don’t, well, then you’re not an adult, you’re just a failure. Ah, the Maggie Thatcher mentality.
Truthfully, I’m 31 now and I’ve done just fine without a license. The only use I’ve had for my license is the occasional bit of ID, and even then, it’s not always necessary. An oldie like me doesn’t need ID to buy a drink these days- sad times.
Most of the time, my outings are a matter of joining my family, getting the bus, getting stuff delivered or walking. Occasionally, we also depend on a local branch of executive taxis. What? You thought Ten Shades would repeatedly expose me to the weed-scented, tracksuit-wearing drivers we’ve had twice with Uber, really? Oh no, it’s all leather interiors and LEDs for this lucky lady.
Part of the beauty of not owning a car is that when we do travel, we can afford to travel in class. Who knows? If we don’t hitch a ride with family in October, we might travel by first class train, maybe. Silent carriage, leather seats and free tea and biscuits? Yes, please. We’ve already had whispers of saving up and hiring a caravan with a sea view. When in Rome..
So why do we want or need a car, really?
As I said to Wolfie this evening, driving seems and feels so.. mainstream, and expensive! Why not explore other options?
My first suggestion was that we look at electric bikes. They’d cost a small fortune, sure, but I liked the idea of something that wouldn’t produce so much carbon dioxide, and we wouldn’t need to pay through the nose to maintain them each year.
He wasn’t convinced. How about taxis? Public transport? car sharing?
Buses were the least favourable option. Understandable as a long-term solution, perhaps. I offered up a compromise of a motorcycle and a sidecar and Wolfie’s face lit up.
“You’d trust me with two wheels? After years of not trusting me with two wheels?” he asked, bemused. I mirrored his smile.
“If I can trust you to be sensible, sure. No wheelies on black ice like your Dad did” I warned. His Dad was lucky. Shaken and bruised, but fortunately otherwise unscathed.
Wolfie called me to rest on the bed for a while and I cuddled against him, finally and completely home at last. This is where I belonged, this is where I needed to be. Here with my love.
“I needed you earlier,” I whispered. “I was in such a bad way and I was really worried that I was going to do something… you know… wrong.”
Self harm isn’t ‘wrong’, but it is against the rules. Our rules.
“Oh love, you should have called” he said, squeezing me.
“I know, but this is where I needed to be” I said, burying my head against his chest, “here, here with my Ten Shades”.
Wolfie sniffed, his watery eyes and runny nose some of the gorgeous symptoms of his current cold,
“Ten-ply right now, more like” he teased.