Friday, September 19, 2008

The Trinity of Me

A daughter first, a girlfriend second and a (wannabe) writer last.

I am a daughter first.

At some point in many people’s lives - I suppose when they start a family of their own - the duties of being a son or daughter take a back seat. But I have not created my own family yet; I have no children, nor am I married, and therefore I still count being a daughter as one of my prime identities. I’m not sure how or when or even if that will change, but I doubt that my desire to please my parents will disappear just as soon as I pop out a sprog or two. However, that remains to be seen.

It was never a question of choosing between FP and my parents when making the decision to move to France, leaving mum and dad in Scotland. I wasn’t leaving them and going to him. Well…okay, physically speaking, it was exactly that, but mentally - psychologically, I wasn’t choosing to leave them to go to him. It was just something I needed to do, to follow my dreams, to begin a new chapter in my life somewhere else. Not for anyone but myself. And this is where my life has taken me, for the moment. That all sounds very philosophical, I know. I’m not one to enjoy writing in airy fairy sentences about my life leading me rather than me leading it, but from time to time I let slip a cheesy line, just to mix things up a bit.

People ask me if my parents aren’t sad that I live in France. The answer is always the same; don’t be ridiculous, of course they are sad. Dad once told me that he was proud of me for what I was doing, but that for a parent there was also an element of sorrow. It broke my heart a little.

There is no doubt that the ideal situation, for them and for me, would be for all the family to live in the same country and to be able to see one another whenever the fancy took us. But after having been so ill from tuberculosis for the last couple of years, my parents supporting me through the lows and the even lowers like only parents can, the main thing was for me to live my life again, only this time, with health on my side.

I try to call my mum as often as I can. Monday and Friday nights are best because FP is out at football training, and I get some peace. He seems to have some sort of disorder that means whenever he sees a phone attached to my ear, he is obliged to talk to me, to start a full-blown conversation about a topic that can definitely wait until the phone call is finished. He doesn’t seem to understand the concept of there being someone else on the other end of the line for the sole purpose of talking to me. So we keep the phone calls short until Monday and Friday nights when we talk for as long as we can about nothing and everything.

My dad, on the other hand, doesn’t do the phone. I rarely get to speak to him when I call home. He speaks to me through mum because it seems he has a variation of FP’s disorder where he cannot stop himself from constantly interjecting our conversation with ‘tell her it was raining today,’ or ‘tell her the story about next door’s dog,’ while I can hear mum shooshing and waving him away. But it’s nice that he wants to tell me things all the same.

He could, of course, come to the phone and tell me himself but as I said, he doesn’t do phone calls. He has some sort of fear of it. He will never answer the phone when it rings, will always leave it to my mum to pick up, not because he’s lazy, but because it doesn’t even occur to him. In the horrific and dreaded case when he is the only person in the house and the phone rings, he will hum and haw before answering after ten rings. When he hears me say ‘Hi dad, it’s me,’ he will reply in a panicked voice, ‘Ah...your mum’s not in,’ and will end the conversation as abruptly as possible. It’s not that he doesn’t want to talk to me, it’s just a man thing, I suppose.

Luckily dad does do Skype.

I am a girlfriend second which means loving the man in all his entirety, including his need to talk to me during phone calls. But that’s not too difficult.

It also means washing masses of dirty football gear, going to family dinners when I want to have a duvet day, forgetting about my 8 year vegetarian past and cooking him lumps of red, bloody meat and taking care of him when he has a man-cold.

In fact, this is exactly what I have been doing tonight because, despite it being a Friday night which would normally mean football training for him and peace for me, he is at home, suffering from a man-cold. He lies whimpering on the sofa bed, which he insisted be pulled out and made up with fluffy pillows and a blanket (‘no, not the pink one, the blue one’ he sniffles pathetically) while I run around making tea with honey and dishing out the sympathy and Paracetemol in large doses.

But then being a girlfriend to Himself is not such a bad thing. If I were to be totally truthful - and I think I’m about to drop another of my cheesy lines in here - it’s the best damn thing that ever happened to me. Being his girlfriend means cuddles and kisses. It means love and happiness and never being lonely, always having my best friend by my side. It’s sharing the ups and the downs, supporting each other through it all, and coming out the other side still holding hands, still smiling.

A wannabe writer last. Which explains the fact that since I came to live in France I have written very little. It’s not for lack of want, or lack of things to write about for that matter. It’s simply due to the fact that between working, being a dutiful daughter and being an attentive and loving girlfriend, there is not much time to sit down and write a blog post, never mind a masterpiece novel that will take the world by storm. (Not that I have the capability of writing a masterpiece novel that will take the world by storm mind you, but that’s besides the point.)

Due to lack of time - and peace and quiet (if it’s not the man it’s the cat) - at home, I spend my lunchtimes at the office sitting at my desk, scoffing a sandwich down my throat and writing as much as I can in the measly hour I have to myself before my colleagues come back. It’s not much, not enough to get a significant amount of writing done, but it exercises my brain, gets my imagination running, and gives me the escapism that I need just to get through another day at the office.

I don’t know if I will ever be a writer; a writer who earns money for the words they produce, that is. It is, I admit, unlikely. But I think that I will always be a writer in the true sense of the word, that is to say, someone who writes for the love of writing. And as long as I still have the ability to write for the joy of it, I will be ok either way.

The trinity of me may shift around in the years to come, but as long as I have family, the man I love and the ability to find pleasure in small, simple things such as writing, life is all good.


Anonymous said...

What a great post! Really well written and I really enjoyed reading it :-)

I have a question ... do you plan your posts? (ones such as the one you just wrote) or do you just write as it comes into your head? How long does it take you to write a post? It always takes me ages to write a blog post that I am happy with and I am always changing stuff around. It would take me forever to write a post such as the one you just published!

Jane said...

It's unlikely that even some of the best writers in this world will have success, but I don't think you will be one of the unluckly/unlikely ones. And I'm normally right about this sort of thing :P

Princesse Ecossaise said...

Aw thanks Sallymari, it's always lovely when someone else enjoys what you write :-) To answer your questions;

I don't really plan my blog posts on paper, but rather a quick brainstorm of what I want to say plays out in my head first and then I write. It's the editing process that I put importance on so that I end up with a blog post that finishes up as something I like, I cut and paste, move paragraphs around, take out sections, change words, add in a point I forgot to make. I always feel that once I have written a skeleton of the post, it's easier then to pad it out. Although that is for big posts like this one. For some of my posts I just write, do a quick read over and edit misspellings etc and then publish. I guess it depends on my time, how important the post is and my mood.

It can take me a long time too to write posts, this one took a while, but it's difficult to say how long because I started writing it at work and then finished it at home. Maybe an hour and a half to write and then another hour to edit and pad out. Et voila!

Wow Jane that is very very very very very very very super nice of you!!! :-D You give me hope!

Leah said...

Twas a very good post, you really are a terrif writer. I really can relate to your sitch with your parents. Though I didn't move here for the same reasons as you, my parents have had pretty much the same reaction. They are happy that I am happy, but they are sad that I am not there with them. Despite their sadness, they just have learned to accept it and only want the best for me. However, it does break my heart a little every time I leave them or talk to them on the phone or even think about all the things I'm missing out on over there. So, I know I can't be away forever because the distance is just too great for me to live the rest of my life like this. On verra. I also hear you on the phone thing, I do talk to my dad on the phone, but it's a fraction of the time I talk to my mom. He just doesn't do long phone convos...but that remains true for anyone calling, really. Oh, dads and their dadness! Anyways, I just wanted to say I understand where you're coming from on a lot of what you said and it really was an excellent post!

Princesse Ecossaise said...

Leah why thankya for the compliments missy! I think, re the parents situation, we will always feel a little bit guilty for having been responsible for the distance in between us and them. I know I will always feel guilty about it anyway, and it really breaks my heart when I hear from them and they are having a down day, saying they miss me. It's hard, but no one said this was forever.

Dads and their dadness indeed! It's kind of adorable, the way they don't really know what they are supposed to do with a phone. Ah ye gotta love 'em!

L'oiseau de perles said...

I think you're a really talented writer and I really enjoy reading your posts. I agree with jane, you'll be one of the successful writers for sure! ;)

T.D. Newton said...

I sympathize to the Nth degree on this one. I try really hard to visit my parents as often as I can and they're only 650 miles away. I just saw my dad yesterday (he came to town to babysit my sister's kids so she and her husband could have a weekend away) but only spent a measly hour of lunch with him and my niece-and-nephews (which is a bit of a chore). But we're going to visit them for the Thanksgiving holiday in November so that's cool.

As far as being a busy writer with a family, a mate, and a day job, that's what I relate to most I think. Frankly, I'm not even sure how I finished ONE novel, let alone dream of finishing more, including the one I'm working on now. I read blogs and books from authors that say their "ritual" is to "write every day" and I just scoff - not only am I not organized enough to remember to write daily, but I don't have the time! I have two dogs that constantly demand to be walked or fed or played with, a fantastic and beautiful wife that is fun to talk to and walk movies and cuddle with, and a job that, while it pays well, is not conducive to the writer's atmosphere.

My ideal writing day is spent entirely at a coffee shop with phone and blackberry turned off and with my laptop not connected to the internet. Headphones are in, people are ignored, and coffee is always hot by my side (preferably decaf, otherwise I get sweaty and restless).

Ultimately, you will find a way to balance it all, with time. What I find best is to actually schedule time to write, put it on the calendar, and let your mate know that this is "you" time and you can't be bothered because you want to focus on what you're doing. It's all a balancing act, especially when you factor in phone calls to your mum, but you can do it. Write that novel. Change from a writer into an author. But life is good, either way.

Princesse Ecossaise said...

L'oiseau de perles that's so sweet of you. God I hope you are right, it's my ultimate dream career, but there are so many talented writers out there, and if you don't do anything, you will never stand out from the crowd. Unfortunately I have done nothing in the past four months to stand out from the crowd!!! Ahhhh if only I could have an extra couple of hours in the day...

TD I thought you might be able to relate to this part as I know you have Micah and the dogs and your job and then writing has to come in somewhere under that, right? So I'm glad you can relate to my writing time problem and it feels so good to hear you - actually I didn't hear you I read you - say that you don't write every day. God who has the time to write every day except those lucky enough to actually be full time writers? Argh it's hard. But the challenge, I suppose, makes it interesting.

It truly is a balancing act, and I have been saying for the past few months to FP that surely at some point, things will all fall into place concerning our routine. At the moment I just can't find a routine that suits me, but I really do feel that it will come in time. It's got to, right?

"Change from a writer into an author" I like this sentence a lot. And you've given me encouragement, thanks!

Esa said...

You are a fabulous writer, one that I love to read whenever I get a chance! Also, as long as you LOVE to write, you ARE a writer.

It's also refreshing to see someone who has such a lovely handle on all the roles she has in her life, as well as someone who appreciates them as well. Your parents, FP, and your friends are lucky to have you in their lives.

And as the wife to my husband, who is the father of our 15 year old daughter, I can tell you that when she moves away one day, after I get him treated for depression, he will probably have a difficult time speaking to her on the phone, too. He's already having a hard time watching her grow up and get more independent. It's hard, but heartwarming to see our daughter become her own person. Your parents are lucky to have a daughter who loves them enough to stay in touch.

sweetche3ks said...

you're a talented and entertaining writer, i would buy your book if you rever wrote one! xo