01 Dec Memoir of a Possible Future
It was late on a Sunday night after a long, rainy drive home. I arrived at my house and decided to make a tea before bed to warm myself up. I sat on my old raggedy chair, weighed down by my thoughts and old memories of family that I missed. Although I remembered my family – how they acted, how they made me feel and my connection with them – somehow it felt so distant in the past that it has become untouchable. Half of me believed it didn’t exist. Half of me believed everything I know is a figment of my own imagination, an outcome of an overactive thoughtful mind that found life too boring and dull for my liking. In turn, I forgot about reality and moved into a preferred one instead. A reality where I never moved away from my family, severing my connection to the ones I held so dearly. A reality where I still lived there, where I’m still at home. I miss home. I miss the warmth of home, the feeling of a loving hug as soon as I walk through the door. I miss celebrating holidays with family like everyone else does. I see everyone else leave my life for a week or two to go home and celebrate Christmas or Thanksgiving or just to visit family. Once they leave, all that replaces them is loneliness and envy of what I don’t have anymore. They get to see the ones they loved so dearly when all I am left with is a faulty, faceless memory of who they were. It doesn’t really matter anyway. Like my therapist told me years ago, “You shouldn’t get caught up in what you don’t have and instead focus on what you do have.” To be honest, I’ve always felt as if that advice was defective and untrue. It felt like receiving a get-well-soon card for a deathly illness. But I followed it anyway because what else can I do, right?
In an attempt to forget about these depressive lonely thoughts, I decided to tend to the pile of forgotten mail that I’ve failed to open. As I slowly went through the pile I found a mysterious old letter that I’d never been bothered to open. What better time than now I guess. Perhaps it will save me from the melancholy purgatory of this chair. Perhaps it would deliver me the exact reality that I’d rather be in.
As I picked up the letter I saw it was sent from someone with my last name, Reynolds. Could it be from my family? Have they finally reached out? Could I finally be able to feel the warmth of a home again filled with laughter from relatives. I ripped open the envelope with desperate haste and took the letter out. I frantically read through the letter as a smile was chiselled onto my face, followed by a tear that slipped out. It fell into my tea, diluting it slightly. The letter was from my family inviting me home for Thanksgiving tomorrow night. This can’t be true, it’s too good to be true, right? I’m most likely getting lost in a defective mental simulation that will crumble at any second. I had to know though, if I didn’t follow the narrative that was written out for me in impossibly perfect penmanship then I’d always be left wondering if it was real or not. Perhaps, if it was real, it would save me from this pathetic night. From every pathetic night.
As I drove over, the rain seemed eerily similar to the night before. It made me question once again if any of this was real or just another tea-induced, raggedy-chair fantasy before bed? Although the thought scared me, it was a fleeting emotion as I arrived at my grandparent’s house. I saw the old 1900s wooden door accompanied by the colonial style house, painted with a coat of chipped olive green paint. It was real. This isn’t just my usual fantasy, instead it was a dream come true. I was met by a warm hug from my grandmother as I walked in. I forgot how much I missed her. I could never fully put my finger on what she looked like before this moment, I still kind of can’t in a weird way. After I walked in I saw all my blurry faced family members who now had a bit more form to their facial features. They all met me with jubilant hearts and smiles filled with joy. Even though this is what I’ve always wanted and fantasised about, it somehow felt a little off. Slightly too perfect and ideal. This thought was quickly cut off by my grandmother offering me a cup of tea. She always knew how to make it exactly how I liked; scolding hot, milk with two sugars and ever so slightly diluted. I sipped my tea as I walked to the dinner table and observed the Christmas dinner to come, filled with every delicacy expected. Ham, potatoes, green beans, stuffing. Perfect for a celebration. As I sat down in my old familiar childhood chair with my tea, I reminisced over all the distant memories of my family. Playing baseball with my uncle, he would always let me win but I still enjoyed it. My aunt who always had the best baking that would fill the house with immaculate scents. My cousins who I’d go into the gardens looking for salamanders and insects with. I took one last sip of my scalding hot tea as I pensively wondered what my old therapist would say now. All that desperate need for family I felt had finally extinguished itself. In retrospect, I realise that all those Hallmark gift cards of advice she gave me were simply to pass time until it was a non issue anymore.
I noticed a slightly salty aftertaste from my tea that was unexpected but quickly forgotten about. Everyone had seemed to have vanished from the table like ghosts. It didn’t matter, I had to get up anyway and meet my family in the lounge for the birthday celebrations. I could already hear them singing. I walked into an eerily empty room and sat down on the old ottoman looking at my presents. This didn’t seem right, none of it did. Why did I even come here, how did I even get here? I only remember pulling in. Everything else somehow seemed to evade me, it was unreachable. Nothing added up. “No this is wrong” I thought. This can’t be real. This isn’t real, is it? I’m just in my own head again, aren’t I? Nothing has changed. I’m still sitting on my old chair at home, still lonely, still pathetic. In seconds I’ll wake up after finishing my tea and this false world will crumble and soon stop existing.
I opened my tear-soaked, lonely eyes to see that I’ve finally finished my diluted salt tainted tea. Poetically I found solace in how truly pathetic it was. The tea was far too hot for my tongue with the original taste diluted away by the heavy stream of tears. It had been replaced with an out of place salty taste. It pained me with its heat. This unfitting, salty taste of my own tears (that the tea ironically welcomed with a lucid embrace) left an off putting expression on my face. I somehow felt as if the tea perfectly related to me. I always come home and pathetically sit, thinking about the life I’ve lived and the life I could have lived instead. This ritual of sipping my scalding hot tea and compulsively reminiscing about my past did nothing for me but elongate the pain it offered and leave me with an off putting taste, the thought that I had ruined everything. It was truly pathetic.
Perhaps my therapist was right.
Aedan Reynolds – Year 13