I have wanted The Mom to come and visit me since I’ve lived in the UK. Which is around about twelve years. I don’t know why it’s taken her this long, maybe by not visiting my living here seems less real. I mean, it’s not like I’ve managed to achieve anything as permanent as Indfinite Leave to Remain or a second passport, but for now, my life is here. I’m sure that must be weird for her. Sometimes it’s very weird to me too.
But I was tremendously glad she made the trip and got to see what my life looks like here, meet some of my friends, and generally get a more tangible understanding of where and who I am these days. And it’s even better that she had an absolute blast. It was exhausting – I don’t normally do that much in a month – but it was indeed worth the effort.
And it was a Herculean effort to get her back to the airport. Now, though I drive at home, reluctantly, and only under duress, I don’t have a driving licence in the UK. Which means I don’t have a car, which normally doesn’t mean anything at all, but on this occasion it might have been helpful because I could’ve driven us to the airport, dropped her off, and then headed back to Bristol.
But as it was, there was no car. Before she arrived, I had assessed our options. There is a bus that goes direct from Bristol to Gatwick, and it’s cheap, and so I considered it. But it’s three hours each way and I didn’t think I could do it. Plus, I like the train because there’s a bathroom I can use without having to futz around. This is important.
Plus, with my hearing aids, I have a disabled persons railcard which is just about the best thing, so the train was actually £20 cheaper than the bus so I opted for that. It also shaved a half-an-hour off our journey.
I didn’t want to be the harried adult rushing The Mom back to the plane, but in the event I let myself down and I was that person. The Mom likes a heartfelt and emotional goodbye and wrapping up, and I must admit I always feel awkward in those situations. I know she loved it because I was there, and I know it meant the world to her to come and see me because I know her. If there’s anything else to add, fine, okay, maybe, but generally, I’m more comfortable with a hug and trusting what I see on someone’s face. Besides which, I’m a bit deaf and having to repeat things like that lessens the impact somehow.
Anyhow, the journey to Reading was fine, and the scenery was pretty, and The Mom got to see what I meant about the clouds here and how different they are from home (and yes I still call Canada home, but I call here home sometimes too, it’s a changeable thing, home). And when we got to Reading, which is a big station, I had prepared her in advance for what I had anticipated might be a bit of a sprint. Luckily, we were in good time.
The second leg of the journey was one of those stop and start routes that can be quite nerve-wracking when you don’t want to miss a flight. But everything worked out and The Mom arrived at Gatwick in good time. And through her ridiculously large sunglasses that she insisted upon wearing even inside the airport I knew she wanted to have a teary goodbye which I pre-empted by saying, I’ll see you for Christmas in like ten weeks.
I repeated the journey back to Bristol on my own and though I was glad to be able to sleep I was waiting for someone to pipe up about the sheep out the window or the clouds or the whatever else. And as I walked round Bristol in the following days I kept remembering things I hadn’t shown her that I had wanted to and was struck by the fact that now there were places here that she and I had stood together on and that this was a rather wonderful thing.
Though, I don’t think I spoke to anyone for a good two days aft she left. Recuperating you see.