The Unofficial Birthday

The past few days I’ve been back home Up North. It’s been a good time on the whole. Two full days of work which will earn me a not inconsiderable sum. And a chance to recharge my social meter (for all Sims fans everywhere) before returning back to the dullness of The South.

On Wednesday we sort of had my second birthday. After my original birthday was so crap a couple of weeks ago, this one was a little better. I had some presents to open. And then we all went out as a family for a nice meal. OK, it was only the Harvester but the company is what matters.

It was the first time in quite a while that we have just sat down, the six of us (my older sister is kinda forgotten about, but that’s because she has a husband and a son!) and chatted, gossiped, and had a great laugh reminiscing about good times gone. I was amazed and slightly pleased to discover that my nearest brother (in age) loved the family holiday to Austria as much as I did.

I do miss all this. Every time I come home I have to get my fill of joyous family life because I know I’ll be without it for at least a few weeks. While I’m here now I can take advantage of it. Even if we are all changing, and my youngest sister now has a boyfriend who occupies every waking thought of the day, and my other brother acts so stupid half the time, there are still occasional glimpses of the goodness we all had and may still have if only we fight to keep it…

How can I get around this? Well, there are a number of options, most of them completely out of the question. The real answer is to try to get my own family. That also seems out of the question, but it’s probably the only feasible medium-term alternative.

The sad thing though is that it’s merely an act of substitution. By replacing the family I enjoy being part of up here with another, I would be removing a major aspect of my life. Just like my sister sort of has. Well, it’s a bit easier for her, still living very close to my parents’ home. With me, I get the feeling that once I had other drains on my time, I wouldn’t have any more room for what’s left.

As I’ve got through life, I’ve realised that there only seems to be enough room in the heart, and the brain, to cope with so many relationships. Friends, family, acquaintances. They all eventually get replaced with something else.

Devastating, but true.

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26

It’s that time of year again. The time when I consider why it is I even carry on existing.

Today I am 26 years old. In what might possibly be one of the most uneventful birthdays I’ve ever had, today has come and gone without me doing anything of any note. I’ve had to do work. I’ve had to do housework. The sun didn’t shine until late in the day. And I didn’t go anywhere, apart from to a neighbour’s house to help them with – what else – their computer.

Most of this is my fault. Most of it is a direct consequence of me being a total bore, living in an area in which I don’t have any real friends. Certainly no one around my age. I have older adult friends, including some of my neighbours and a couple of customers who have become friends, who I now get on with well.

But the problem is simple: they all have their own lives. They all have their own friendship and social circles. I’m very much a peripheral character.

Not working in a workplace, the chances of this ever changing are absolutely remote. The only way it could change is if I took up some form of social “activity”. Something, or anything, that might just get me involved with other people. That might happen, as I’m being nagged by a client to join the governing body of the local school. I’d probably be a good school governor, because I’m boring enough to study the associated forest of paperwork. Yawn.

It’s hardly going to set my social life on fire though.

Meanwhile, the rest of my life is… OK. Business is decent, and that keeps me somewhat sane. My family life is reasonably good. Finances are also steadily improving month by month.

What isn’t is the relationship with my housemate. I desperately need to get out of here sooner rather than later. We don’t really talk any more about anything other than work. Somehow any semblance of having common interests has vanished. In fact, the more I analyse it the more I realise we don’t actually have anything to talk about. That’s probably why we avoid each other. We don’t socialise like normal friends would, mainly because of the awkward silences.

I’d love to be able to afford my own place. But being self-employed, I can’t see it ever happening any time soon. I need to have a good few years of books behind me, showing continual improvement and a very solid income, especially if I was to try and buy a house on my own. Then again, I’m not even convinced I’d be brave enough to plough all my savings into a house. It’s portrayed as a risk-free investment, but I don’t think it is any more.

What I need is for house prices to come down around 20%. That’s not gonna happen Down South. So I will continue renting. But maybe I can try and rent on my own.

In any event, 26 really is time I sorted my life out, one way or another. At current rates, this next year will be no better than the last. And that is a worry. I always like to think there has been some progress as the years go by. But now there is a very real danger of stagnating.

If I’m still in this position this time next year, then I will have to force myself to reassess.

Until then, maybe I’ll have a much more enjoyable “official” birthday when I next go home to see my family.

Dull.