“And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so?
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth.”
I know what you’re all thinking: just leave already! You’d like to get to the interesting stuff – a voyage down the Mekong where the raft breaks and we nearly get killed by a poisonous snake on our trek back, or an amusing description of a hospital visit during which there’s at least one suppository story, and a funny bit with a camel.
So I’m sorry to disappoint you. The Bigmores are still in Forest Hill, and really and truly, still saying goodbye. This weekend, with apologies to my Canadian ex-colleague Kara Gammell, who always used to use this phrase when starting a feature she wasn’t looking forward to, we’ve been ripping it like a Band Aid – taking the end of the sticking plaster and pulling. Hard.
So over the last three days we’ve had not one, not two, but three parties. Daisy turned eight on Friday, and for some reason, in a weak moment we agreed to a a sleepover. We celebrated Clover’s sixth birthday today with a small gathering in advance of our trip, since she turns six two days before we go. And in the middle we had what the girls termed the ‘Big Party’ – a leaving do on an epic scale.
Perhaps sensible people would have spun it out more, and certainly at 3am on Saturday, when I was trying to persuade Daisy and eight friends that a sleepover should do exactly what it said on the tin, I heartily wished I had. It turns out, though, that just as ripping a plaster off all at once can give you a tiny feeling of exhilaration, so can having three parties in as many days.
We’re truly grateful for every one of you who came this weekend – just crunched the numbers and there were well over 150 of you. We’ve talked, drunk, laughed, cried (the tiniest bit) and been so bowled over by your help, good wishes and love. I’ve also never seen so many children’s shoes in one place. In other news, Daisy now thinks it is fine to eat cream tea for breakfast, and I know that the decking is stronger than I thought. Thank you for every scone, every glass washed, every hug and every good wish you’ve given us. They mean the world.
There’s nothing like going away to make you really appreciate what you’ve got at home (and I’m not just talking about the clean bathrooms, but about every one of you we’ll miss). If it’s not bathetic to begin a post with Raymond Carver and end it with Joni Mitchell, I’ll point out that ‘don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone’. Or nearly gone. Two weeks to go.
As the young people say O. M. G.