coming to a stop


i’d forgotten that if i’ve had a hard year at work, i generally get ill the first day of the holidays. the last four months has been pretty stressful so of course i’ve got a bad cold and am sitting around at home in a sort of daze, trying to write this entry but finding it more difficult than usual.

in an odd way, i find being ill comforting if uncomfortable. as i dont have the energy to do much, i dont feel like i have to do anything at all and as my body is spending most of its time fighting off the virus, i’m not actually bored or lonely. my background mental static is greatly silenced but it’s not replaced by anything very complex. i’m pretty much reduced to a collection of sense perceptions alternately sweating and shivering in bed.

i’m feeling better now of course or i would not be sitting up writing this.

*

my ex came by yesterday and took her cat away. I’ve been minding seow seow for the last 9 months or so and had been looking forward to no longer having to feed and clean up after her. To my surprise, I’m missing her.

Seow seow never did too much. She spent most of the time indoors on my bed and only ever reluctantly went outside as she was afraid of the other cats in the neigbourhood. Her attentions mostly consisted of demands to be fed and cuddle up when it was cold – both of which I attended to with a degree of reluctance.

but now that’s she’s no longer here, there’s a small hole in my bed, a cat sized vacuum that my body still avoids when it is shifting in sleep or getting up to the toilet. When my mind and heart catches up to her absence, i feel a surprising pang of grief.

*

christmas is another vacuum. my ex and i were united in our lack of the family christmas traditions which seem to be both a stress and a comfort for those people who have them. Over the six years, we’ve tried different things for christmas but we’ve always been together. Last year, as we’d only just newly seperated, we spent it with some of our friends in an orphan’s christmas party.

Coming into christmas this year, I felt a certain degree of social panic and isolation. It’s the time of the year when most of my friends do their own thing, some cloistering themselves with their family for the entire period, others reluctantly spending only the minimum amount of time possible.

I do have extended family in Melbourne and I’ve been invited in the past to spend time with them but it’s always struck me as a patched on tradition in the face of christmas expectations / propaganda. Christmas was never part of my childhood experience in Malaysia. Chinese New Year was when the full force of family festival get together obligations was applied. So I’ve always refused and eventually the invites dried up. I have no regrets. My regard for my extended family in Melbourne is such that I do not even front up to Chinese New Year events with them.

Nonetheless, I do feel a certain emptiness and desire for the kind of family that some of my friends have where they look forward to Christmas, where they have traditions that have been passed on down, where people actually seem to have a reasonable time with each other. I realise that this is the ideal that many aim for, that this is the essense of christmas propaganda – that somehow a couple of days of giving each other presents and eating too much can cure a lifetime of neglect and unhealed wounds.

But i do have friends who have good christmases because they have put effort into their relationships through the year and years.

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