Saturday, 16 June 2012

Back Home, Day 3: All You Can Eat

Prior to waking up on my third day home, I had a strange, feverish dream. I was back in Vancouver, dressed as female and making out with a male friend of mine. I left the room to get ready for more action when, suddenly, two very stern psychiatric nurses arrived with a kind of beige slime which paralyzed anyone that got near it. The next thing I heard was my friend suffocating. I began to feel myself slowing down, but overpowered the slime and the nurses. It was a hollow victory, though, as I survived alone.

So the day finally arrived. After twenty-five years of being together, my father and stepmother got married officially. The wedding itself was happy and low-key with close relatives from either side of the family.

Most of today, leading up to it, was spent hanging around the apartment in the sweltering heat and haze. The tension of the previous day having eased somewhat. Still adjusting to the time zone change as well as the difference in climate, my appetite was sporadic: a light breakfast followed by a snack for lunch. I had moisturized my hair so that straightened out and lay flat on my head. I then pulled it into a pony-tail and held it in place with one of the thick bands I bought yesterday at the drug store. I stayed in shorts (cut offs) and a t-shirt for most of the afternoon. My head was swimming, knowing that once this wedding was over, the space would open up for the Conversation to happen. My thoughts swirled. Between this and the heat, I felt fatigued and took a mid-afternoon nap.

Soon afterwards, a few of my stepmother's relatives arrived to help her get ready. Groggy, I got up and went on to the balcony for some fresh air. After about fifteen minutes, my energy had come back and I went to get dressed. I had packed my white linen jacket and pants along with a short-sleeved, beige cotton shirt. Surprisingly, and by complete happenstance, most of us seemed to have some combination of beige, white and a darker colour (blue or purple) on. In my case, my shoes, belt, hair band and watch provided the dark contrast.

When it was finally time to leave for the restaurant where the wedding was going to take place, I calmed my mind and followed my father and stepmother out the door. As the restaurant was only two blocks east of the apartment building, it was only a short trip. My stepmother's relatives were gathered outside the restaurant, my father's were already seating themselves inside.

Meeting everybody was, in 60s parlance, a real trip. I was great to see everybody for the first time  in four years, since my last trip home; there were even some folks I had not met in years, or decades. Kids had grown into adults, adults had become seniors, former children now had children of their own. I felt my own age pretty acutely.

But the most awkward part was being complimented on what "a handsome man" I was. I smiled, trying to look appreciative (I probably came across as shy); inside, I felt very uncomfortable. My suit began to feel like armor: the evening's heat began to close in. I decided to use a mental technique I had learned years and years earlier: I shut myself down, cut my awareness off from the neck down. I, then, could carry on through the night. Afterall, this was my father and stepmother's night: my moment could wait, for now.

I took pictures of the short ceremony, including the marrying couple, the officiate (a notary), two young relatives who were holding flowers and bearing the rings, and an aunt and uncle who were witnesses. Then, I sat down and drank and ate with my family (new and old), sharing laughs, and catching up as best as I could (leaving out some big details, of course). At some point, my father made a brief announcement thankinh everyone who had shown up. Then, the meal courses were served, the cake was cut and handed out and the pictures continued. The favors, candied almonds in paper boxes shaped like grooms in tuxedos (for the guys) and brides in dresses (for the ladies), were handed out to guests as they left. I hugged each relative goodbye, promising to keep in touch. By 9:00 pm, it was all over, and my father, stepmother and myself, all tired, headed back home.

Back at the apartment, I nearly tore my jacket off in desperation. I sat down at the computer for a while and did some of what I call YouTube therapy, playing favourite songs on the various channels as a DJ would mix tunes on a turntable. Then, I took a shower and put on the sweatpants and oversized t-shirt that I have been using as makeshift pyjamas. Secretly, as I have been the past three nights, I popped a Spiro pill with some apple juice (I changed my Estradot patches last night) and sat down at the computer again. I began to write my next post, feeling slightly bloated and very drained.

As always with food and emotional issues, I knew how to pack it in when I wanted to, but you can only eat for so long.

To be continued ...