One Christmas Day.
In my early 20s.
My ‘early grown up’ years, if you like.
I found myself sat around a strange table.
In a strange house.
With strange people.
Pushing turkey around a plate.
A couple of half-mouthfuls into the meal.
I sensed myself floating.
Well, it felt like floating.
Because as the conversation ricocheted around me.
And across me.
I became aware that I hadn’t looked up from my plate for a good two minutes.
I became aware that I was pushing food around my plate.
I became aware that I felt alone.
And it was part way through one of these plate-stares that I felt the stinging in my eyes.
And the warm tears rolling down my face.
Just a couple of them.
And I remember thinking:
I hope no one noticed that.
And I also remember thinking:
I hope they did.
My new girlfriend was sat to my right.
But I didn’t know her, of course.
She was new.
We were new.
And the beautiful, perfectly Christmassy room.
Packed with her uncles, aunts, mum and dad, sisters and brothers was all new too.
And I remember thinking.
That it’s funny how you can feel so alone.
When you’re not alone.
It had seemed like a good idea at the time.
A new girlfriend inviting me to her place.
For Christmas Day.
Especially because the house I shared with my friends in Newcastle was empty over the Christmas period.
And especially as my mum’s house contained my drunk, bullying coward of a stepdad.
So when the invitation came.
I want to go home.
I didn’t say it out loud of course.
Grown ups can’t say things like that out loud.
But then I thought to myself that.
I didn’t actually want to go home.
What I actually wanted.
Was a home.
On Christmas Day in 2019.
I was sat in my home.
In an imperfectly Christmassy room.
With all the right people.
And my mind floated back 29 years.
To a 22 year old me.
A teary me.
A lonely me.
Sat in a perfectly Christmassy room.
With all the wrong people.
I thought about my journey.
I thought about the people I’d known that would make my homes over the years.
And I thought about the people I’d known that would break my homes over the years.
I tried to dilute the bitterness I can still taste so vividly.
With the pockets of happiness I remember so warmly.
During my teenage years.
And during every decade since.
I thought about The Smiths too.
Singing this: https://www.50odd.co.uk/home/.