volume one hundred and seventeen
to the men who raised me, comedically
📍Written from Australia, in a room that is mentioned a lot in this volume, with the sound of the morning birds being picked up in my microphone and landing in my headphones at a loud morning song volume.
I am probably seven or eight years old and sitting on the lounge that folds out into my bed each night in my home away from home. The small television in the corner, with its rounded screen, click-knobs to change the channel and non-existent remote control faces on a diagonal towards us. My sisters are on either side of me and our knees are tucked under our chins with our arms wrapped around them holding them tight. Tears stream down our faces and onto our pyjamas as we squirm in our place, trying to wrap our legs one around the other like spaghetti to hold it all in, to hold it all together, to make sure we do not wet our pants.
We have forgotten the mini cereal boxes that we fought over that morning, all wanting Coco Pops and there only being two and that being a cereal we never saw in our usual home. We are no longer concerned with their little cardboard doors that open in our imagination to be Barbie wardrobes. We no longer care that we had to leave the beach earlier before we were ready or that we had to wash the sand off us in the yard with the cold hose before being allowed in the house and straight to the shower. We aren’t fussed at all anymore that dessert wasn’t allowed unless we finished our dinner.
All of that is because Billy Maddison is on the television and we are laughing so hard we are unable to contain ourselves. We have never known humour like this, we have never known laughter to this extent, we have never known silliness to exist in adults on this level, like it does in our minds still untouched and unchanged, ready to play at any opportunity.
Every time an ad break comes on we are desperate for it to be over, wishing the movie to come back so we can enter a place of utter joy and ecstasy. Additionally, every time an ad break comes on, we fight for the bathroom, while simultaneously unable to peel ourselves out of position in case our tiny bladders let go before we are ready.
We are in this room so that Nan and Pop can enjoy — what I can only assume despite not actually remembering if it is so — watching the news. The wooden door that keeps us in this space and therefore out of trouble, is slightly ajar and it rolls across to open loudly on its runners, to reveal Nan who tells us we are being too noisy. We try to hold in our laughs for the rest of the movie which will, unknown to us at the time, produce the dialogue for many family dinners to come.
I am thirty-two years old, coming up to thirty-three. I have just returned home, the only consistent home I have known my entire life, after living abroad for almost a decade.
The sunroom layout is exactly the same. A lounge sits right where we huddled years ago, but it is now smaller in size to allow a desk next to it. It is no longer a fold-out, given the guests that arrive now are far fewer, grown up and spread all over the place. The art on the walls remains the same, faded scenery from sun-soaked days streaming in on them and held in white frames, black and white photos of Poppy winning trophies, grandparents aging through photographs and framed awards for Nan and Pop’s hole-in-ones over the years. The walls also hold some new additions: school photos of my sisters and I as teenagers, Santa photos of my sister's children, and artwork produced by Poppy when he was in respite a few days a week. The TV in the corner now has a remote and a flat-screen and a cloth cover on it as it hasn’t been used in who knows how long, given I am grown enough now to join the adults watching the news.
Despite this room turning into Poppy’s room over the years as his dementia progressed, it has been transformed again now he lives in full-time care. Nan has told me on every one of our weekly calls for months that the room is all set up for me — ready to work from, do morning yoga from and sleep in given the same bed still sits at the other end of the room that was my older sister’s on those childhood visits and then it became Poppy’s and now I guess it is mine — despite the fact that both of us have said I will not be living with her. I know she likes her space, and I know I want to travel the country, but I know we are both excited for me to be popping in to visit, even if only one of us says that directly.
I sit here feeling the energy of the funniest man I ever knew, surrounded by his life from golf victories in his twenties, to starting a family, to becoming a grandfather, to becoming a great-grandfather, to winning awards, to taking more and more naps that got longer and longer, to arts and crafts he’d bring home from his “day at work”… and think about how just yesterday, even when he had no idea who I was, he told me “I like you” and most of all, he still wanted to make jokes with me.
I think about the joy it brings me to write jokes, to tell them, to be on stage and how fear of my past and that judgement has caused me to shy away from that feeling that uncontrollably bursts out of me, just like it did on the lounge when I was little.
I think about the untouched bliss that I felt as a child, and that I felt again seeing Adam Sander live last week. I think about how when he walked onto stage, for the first time in all of the hundreds of comedy shows I have attended, I cried. I think about how the entire night felt like a message from something far bigger than me: HAVE FUN.
I think about how Poppy, despite being many other things over his long existence, managed to hang onto that childlike splendour and quip his whole life, and still does. Even when so much has been taken away from him, he has hung onto that.
That is why I feel like I can harness all the delight that has been felt in this room, and the energy left here for me to soak up and believe in myself enough to know that life is far too short to deny myself a happiness that is so strong it wants to burst out of me.
Lovely reader, what do you love so much that it bursts out of you? Do you allow it to do so?
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here are three things I struggled with this week:
🪅 Saying goodbye, for now, to the people who know me better than anyone: my Vancouver besties.
📅 Adjusting my calendar — it is all for the better — I just have to adjust.
🪰 Why do the flies in Australia love me? Is it my face cream? Anyway, it is good to be home.
here are three blessings from this week:
☀️ Clothes hung on the washing line to dry are just so much better than clothes put in a dryer.
🕰️ Jetlag coming to this side of the world always works in my favour.
here are three goals for the coming week:
🐚 Toes in sand numerous times.
↖️ Follow my “why”.
🤙 Trust my gut.
pics or it didn’t happen:
I love you. Now I am off to get caught up on the latest dating/reality show airing in Australia soon so that I can watch it with Nanny.