I live in the middle of nowhere. Or, let's say, my parents live in the middle of nowhere. I refuse to refer to this as my actual permanent residence. That would be far too depressing.
I'm not completely ungrateful. I know that many, many people would give their right arm to live in a place like this, but to be frank, this is the kind of place you come for a week's holiday to get away from the world. Living here, well, that's another story.
The nearest shops are five miles away, the nearest gym six miles, the nearest actual sizeable town is fifteen miles away. And the public transport system is shite. And by shite I mean mostly non-existent. But none of this is a huge problem, because I like walking. But I don't like it so much in the torrential rain. Moreover, crazy country drivers are far more likely to run me over in the rain. Which is not so good. Drivers don't seem to understand the concept of pedestrians round here. If you're wondering about pavements, you may be assured that they do not exist within a five mile radius of my parents' house.
Last week when I was out walking, a car pulled up beside me.
Woman: Do you want a life anywhere?
Me: No thanks, I'm okay.
Woman: Are you sure? You're in the middle of nowhere.
Me: I know. I live here.
I can't wait to get out of here. Again. I wonder why I keep coming back. You may have noticed the three times in the past year when my blog has taken a distinct turn for the worse, when it's become filled with self-doubt and failure and bingeing. These three times are Christmas, Easter, and Summer. Which are, not so coincidently, the three times I've spent time at my parents' house.
This summer has been the worst. These past few months... I don't know what's been wrong with me, but I feel like I've taken about fifty steps backwards. Hideously, I've gained weight. My fitness has worsened. My confidence has dropped. My self-control has been weakening.
I need out of here.
I kidded myself that a couple of days' escape to another country would make a difference. Nah, I lie, it made a difference, but in the end, it wasn't a revolution.
I try not to blame my circumstances instead of myself, but it's too much of a coincidence that I find everything so much harder when I'm here. Partly I guess my childhood home makes me feel like a child. I associate memory with place very strongly, and the place where I spent all my adolescence is bound to have a fair few bad memories. But partly it's because I come back here to see my school friends and my brother, and I barely get to see any of them because - guess what? They all have lives of their own and are off doing exciting things. While I'm... well, sitting around at home breathing in the stifling and distinctly poisonous atmosphere of my parents' completely disfunctional marriage.
I have my fair share of social anxiety, emotional immaturity, and dodgy inter-personal skills. But my parents and their complete lack of empathy with each other, their passive-agressive snideness, and their avoidance of communication as though it were the plague... it baffles me, it really does. I don't understand how two people can have been married for 32 years and yet know each other barely at all. I don't understand how they can live in the same house day in day out and yet communicate with each other so little. I don't understand how they can't manage the simplest and most innocent of conversations without finding some way to wind each other up.
Moreover, I don't understand how they can have so little understanding of who their children are and what they feel. I don't understand what went so fundamentally wrong in our relationship, and when it happened, such that I can't imagine ever confiding in either of my parents any of my private thoughts, problems, or circumstances. I cannot even imagine such a conversation. It saddens me, this. But it also frustrates me. Because there are lots of people I do feel I can confide in if I want to, people my age, and people younger than me, and people much older than me. But not my parents. Because all I see is the distance between them and me, and the distance between the two of them, and the distance between them and all other functional relationships and friendships. And I do mourn the lack of closeness, but also, I can't help thinking... would I be less emotionally fucked up if my parents had been just a bit less disfunctional? Would I be an opener, more confident, more trusting person, if my parents had ever had a conversation with me more serious than what's for dinner? If I'd ever seen them having an open and honest conversation with each other? Philip Larkin was right, as we know.
This is the last summer I'm spending here. I can't handle this sort of length of time stuck here in the middle of nowhere. I feel like I don't have my own life here. I don't feel like myself here.
You want a lift anywhere?