S01, Episode 3: The Reunion (pt1)
Old faces in a brave new world
I am a bag of nerves. No, more accurately a shipping container full.
Tonight is reunion night! NO! Not some toes curling meet up in a mouldering school hall with putrescent lighting. Where one-upmanship abounds with over-tight shapewear and braying about the latest Audi.
Meeting up with old, once close, friends with whom I haven't seen or been in contact with for twenty odd years - I have been a bad friend.
I left Aberdeen all that time ago without a backward glance. An aspiring artist trying to live in a city built on fishing and North Sea oil wasn't a match made in heaven. This town stretches majestically from mountain to sea - a Victorian vision of grey granite and social aspirations. It’s common for the visitor to note the greyness and in the drizzle, the light seems dead as withered bone. The character of people reflects this adamantine austerity. A precocious 20-year-old with flamboyant tendencies didn't fit with this backdrop.
I was so desperate to leave this small town, this Dallas-on-Dee oil city. I packed up my paintbrushes, tucked my heart into a small locked box and got the hell out of dodge.
I left behind good friends who could manage the parochial locals, the baltic weather and see the potential of a place like this. They built lives for themselves, nurtured families and each other.
For a creative genius, my imagination failed me when it came to Aberdeen.
Riddled with some sort of strange guilt-type sensation I now had to primp, prettify, titivate and gussy up. Surely the flick-ier my eyeliner the better received I would be, right? Besides my feeble attempt at reconciling twenty odd years of imagined affront from my friends. This is the first ‘Ross and Emma’ public spectacle. Cue the galloping collywobbles and the twittering jitters.
In just over a month I will be 38. No, I have no idea how that happened either. One minute I am running around barefoot in Africa next I’m married, two children, one spaniel (deceased), five house moves, potterings in South America, divorced, more house moves, two businesses (one ceased), and back in the coldest place on earth with the love of my life - who I am desperate to impress in front of a potentially hostile crowd.
I'm not in bad shape in figure terms, I'm passable. Slim, fit-ish, wrinkled but hey...even extract of baby otter harvested under a pink moon in the 13th month can't defeat the ravages of the African sun. In summary: legs - short but good, tits - too big, bum - pert enough, hair - wild. Heading towards my forties I imagined I would become an elegant siren; erudite and funny. Truth is Daisy at 6 years has more sartorial elegance than I will at 40.
I live in terror of becoming one of those women with sensible hair cuts and who live for their children. Competing with other women in snide parent council politics, about whose husband drives a bigger car and what saintly little Jonny did in his billion extracurricular activities. Who the fuck cares?! I want to be drinking whisky, wearing impossibly cool heels, listening to rock and roll and setting the world to rights into the wee, small hours. (OK, I won't be drinking whisky as I am allergic, not the coolest look for a Scot)
Point is I don't want to be ball achingly boring in my dotage. And I'd like a dash of glamour, please Fairy Godmother.
Of course, getting ready with two children under your feet is nigh on impossible. They are hyper in the extreme. So far Ross's appearance in their lives has resulted in Christmas tree delivery, covering him in glitter and lipstick, walks to the beach, mum getting dressed up in something other than tatty old jeans, late nights and more ice cream than an Italian deli.
'Mummy, wear this one, it's soooo sparkly' Daisy drags out a red carpet level dress.
'No, darling, we are just going to the pub' She harumphs. In Daisy-world, red carpet dresses should be worn daily.
'Can I do your makeup, mum?' Lily produces an eye shadow palette in dubious purples and greens. Not sure I am aiming for the Grotbags look.
'Wear this one!'
'Darling, it's January and minus 3!' I hand back the diaphanous silk number.
I pick out some jeans. A collective groan goes up. 'Mummmmm.' I accept I am a failure in the eyes of my girls.
The doorbell rings I panic. Thankfully it’s Mother here to babysit, she takes command.
Realising Ross will be here at any moment I throw on a cashmere sweater, jeans and heels. Attempt hair taming, fail. Attempt makeup, better. Swap out sweater for something with more cleavage. Swap for something where my boobs stay inside the top.
Nope, nope. Nope. My nerves are eating me up, I’m ready to bolt. Back in the day, I had a well-honed ability to vanish mid-event, usually through pub toilet windows.
But Ross arrives.
It is amazing how your worries can melt away around the right person. I know you know this. But I have spent my romantic life being around the ‘wrong’ people. Wrong for me at least, not wanting to cast aspersions on their very fine characters. But with Ross things feel right.
In his embrace, I forget the anxiety and panic. Nothing else exists - just us. Now I am able to face our friends.
I hope they don’t hate me.
The Reunion part 2 - Next Tuesday! Sign up👇🏻
Apart from Emma and Ross. All other names are changed for privacy. This memoir is set in the city of Aberdeen, UK but I have altered some of the place and business names.