School holidays. This week we have been in Ballarat, visiting my mother. To be honest, I was dreading this. I like the idea of being home, in the familiar, spending time with my mum and all affection that entails, but you and I both know from past experiences that these things never go so well. I know it’s my fault. I react, I argue, I try to change how she acts, and it never works.
So this time I’m trying something new. I’m staying detached, I’m not engaging with her. Smile and nod, smile and nod, go to my happy place, and if it gets too much (like when my aunts came over, and the opinions reached critical mass) leave the room. And if it’s really bad, that’s where my duty free bottle of Bailey’s comes in. Instead of saying anything, I go take a swig. It’s like a fucking drinking game. Council rates too high for no reason? Drink. Bitchy gossip about a relative? Drink! Homophobia/racism/discussions about how her iPad works? Drink! Drink! Drink!
I did pretty well, I didn’t even start the game until day 4, but it’s now day 7 and my bottle is empty and I still have 12 hours to go. It was the discussion about upgrading her iPad that did me in. Did you know it has the GBs? But not enough GBs. So she keeps getting messages about needing to put more of the GBs in. You can get a thing to do the thing and the other thing. I didn’t say anything, not after the time I’d said she didn’t really understand how data worked on her mobile phone and she rolled her eyes hard enough to dislocate them and said, “Oh here we go, yes I’m just stupid and you know everything, I’m sorry I asked.” Come to think of it, that was what started the game in the first place.
So the bottle didn’t last to the end of the visit, which probably means I lost, but on the other hand there was no screaming, and there were no tears, so maybe everyone won.
It has been nice being back home though. I do love Ballarat. As a town it’s big enough to feel like it has everything you need, but small enough to feel homey and nice. We have some lovely friends here, whom we normally don’t get to see anywhere near enough, but this week we’ve spent quite a bit of time together and it’s been wonderful. They are very much our people. I would love to live in Ballarat just to be close to them. If only the trains would make commuting more viable. Theoretically there is a fast train that should make the commute not much longer than we had when we lived in Melbourne, but Dave tried it this week and not one day did it run on time.
(Actually that reminds me, way back in the day I suggested we could live in Ballarat and Dave could work in Melbourne, staying in town during the week in a little studio apartment in the city, and he said, “nooo, I could not be aways from you that long.” And then I brought it up again a couple of months ago, and he said, “hmm, that could work!” WHAT CHANGED?)
Of course, one person is missing. It was so strange coming up here, knowing I wouldn’t see Pete this time round, or any time. There’s a massive hole here where he used to be.
Next week (tomorrow (I can make it)): Melbourne, more family, lots more friends, lots to do. I’m really looking forward to it.