I recently had the good fortune to go to Barcelona for a long weekend, such are the luxuries of living in the UK. Though, it wasn’t so much to go and see Barcelona, rather, it was to go and see Mr Mr, the chap who is, for all intents and purposes, my British brother.
When I first moved to England, over eight years ago now, Mr Mr was on my course and after some convincing, he moved in with me and my Japanese friend. We immediately, and naturally, formed a little family unit. Mr Mr did the cooking and if one wasn’t home for dinner on time, one was subjected to a lot of text messages.
We spent our days together, and our nights, carousing around town, shouting, drinking, and carrying on. We took care of each other – the three of us – when one, or two, or all of us, was hungover, ill or just feeling a little bit schloopy. To this day, both Mr Mr and my Japanese friend are part of the group over here who form my family.
Mr Mr is also well-versed in dealing with me and my urgent bathroom needs. He’s been through it all before and, to his absolute credit, doesn’t even bat an eyelash.
A bunch of us were wandering around Barcelona around lunchtime and I’d made the foolish choice of eating some food. As we were heading toward the Metro, I said, “Mr Mr, bathroom.”
“Okay,” he replied. “I know a place just up here.”
“No. Now.” There is a special tone I reserve for these sorts of moments and he knew it instantly.
He pointed to a nearby bar and off I ran. Thankfully, I knew how to ask for the bathrooms in Spanish, and when I re-emerged, I found my friends at the bar, happily enjoying a glass of beer. Mr Mr looked me up and down and cocked his head to one side.
“Alright?” he asked.
I nodded and he handed me a small bit of medicine he’d just rolled (the laws for these sorts of minor indiscretions are different in Spain, thank goodness) and shuffled me off outside.
“Is this going to be one of those days where it’s every half an hour?” he asked.
I shook my head. “This should sort me out.”
“Good. And we’ll get some protein into you. Meat, you need meat.”
From that moment on, the rest of the holiday involved him carefully ordering a bunch of meaty dishes and not listening to my rather feeble requests for salad.
Now, this is of course not to say that any one of my good friends over here wouldn’t take care of me if something happened and we were out together. The point is, though, that Mr Mr and I hadn’t seen each other in over a year. And it was like we’d seen each other yesterday. All our habits came back in a flash. Which is, of course, why I consider him family.
And it’s funny. It’s the sort of thing that I’m never entirely sure how The Mom will take. She loses her mind if I ever refer to London as home, even in the most off-hand way, so I’ve always been ever so slightly trepidatious when mentioning that I’ve got people over on this side of things who will rush me to hospital or help me bury a body.