Living on the other side of the world, away from friends and family
is a mixed blessing. Initially it can be a very lonely place, most
of us, however, soon make friends and a whole new life opens up.
There are, of course, occasional visits from those we leave behind.
And this is where it can get very weird and extremely stressful. In
normal circumstances we see our friends and family for a few hours
of an evening or for a day at Christmas or other special occations,
and this is often time enough, especially where family is
concerned. Visits across the world by necessity involve a minimum
of two week stints, often a lot longer; this can stretch the
patience of a saint let alone mine which is generally frayed and
ragged around the edges at the best of times.
We have had numerous visitors in the past, some more successful than
others. And one where we have vowed to leave the country if they
ever decide to return. And it was with some dread that the
countdown began for a visit from a long time friend and my mum, both
at the same time.
It has been a weird time. I knew it would be difficult but not
quite how difficult. I have known for months that mum and Hugh
were coming to visit and I knew it was not going to be easy. Having
one visitor in the house can lead to frustration but two is just
Hugh arrived mid-December, on a a Wednesday; a wet, windy, early
summer day. My first impression was that he has aged considerably in the two years since I last saw him. Hugh is tall and has always been on the lean side, but now he resembles a stick insect or one of those nylon blow-up men used along the roadside to advertise tyre shops, all long flailing limbs and bobbing body. As I gave him a welcome hug I nearly wretched. He smelt repulsive - pungent cigarettes and nicotine. I put this down to the fact that he had been waiting for us to pick him up and he had been passing the time - we were late to the aiport after all. Brent was with me and he dropped me back off at work as I was finished off my last week before mum arrived. I had to do this as I do not have enough holiday otherwise and I thought it would be good for Hugh to be able to adjust to the time difference. Nonplussed by the rain, he was overjoyed at the warmth, having left a freezing UK which was promising unseasonable snow and more snow.
I got home from work on that first day to be greeted by the smell of
acrid smoke in the family room. Although he knows not to smoke in
the house, smoking on the deck with the French doors open is
tantamount to the same thing in my book. In my normal blunt
way I asked him to close the doors to stop the smell getting in to
which he replied 'yes mum'. Over the next few weeks this request
met with varying degrees of success and the retort of 'yes mum'
would really start to get on my nerves. Its not that he is actually
older than me, it just seems to, oh I don't know, maybe I am being
over sensitive as usual, but it just pisses me off after a while,
maybe because I am bossy, but then again it is my (and Brent's)