Telling Gloria

London. Amanda and Andrea say over and over they don’t want me to go. I will miss them, although, of course, there’s Facetime and phone time and…. I don’t know …emails? …letters with stamps on the envelope? We have words, what else do we need? Their pleas only make me feel more unsettled. I didn’t realise that was possible.

There was just my mother left to tell, but first I drove to Aix-en-Provence, for my birthday. I was on a sort of farewell Tour de France. I love the country, and have probably seen more of it than of Britain. Sometimes I wonder why I didn’t move there.

There was a late-summer heatwave, and Aix looked at its best in the warm light. There are many fountains in the city. They trickle or spout, the soundtrack to the boulevards, making everything cooler and even more beautiful. My favourites look like boulders covered with moss and lichen, a broadleaf plant sprouting here, maybe another one there, until it is just so. They are, I suppose, a conceit, a sort of joke on the natural world. Look, they’re saying, nature is good, but we can make it even better. I dipped my hand into the water and my whole body shivered with cool pleasure. Sitting in it would have been lovely, but I resisted.

After Aix, I drove to Bordeaux, a city I love, for two nights, then back to London in one tiring, stormy day. I’d spoken to almost no one in ten days. I’d hoped that the quiet would help clear my head, but it didn’t work. I was in some denial that there were two weeks until I had to move out of my flat.

Another dawn email from Susan, who owns the flat I rent. She wants to arrange a time, on the 6th, for me to hand over the keys. I’d been planning on moving on the 7th, my leaving party is on the 5th and the best way to move is without a thunderous hangover. Emails pass back and forth. She won’t budge, even by an inch. She accidentally attaches something from the letting agent that talks about ‘getting rid of him’. Him, of course, is me. I remind myself that all this is temporary. There is sunlight, somewhere, ahead.

Moran emailed to say my application to emigrate had been accepted. I never really doubted it would be, but this made it official. She thought it would be impossible to move before November. I will be homeless in London for almost a month before I leave.

Dinner with Camilla, something I know I’ll miss. We talked about where our personal, just us, leaving party will be. We wanted a day return to Paris, but it would cost £170 for each of us on Eurostar. We’ll do something else.

I’d put it off as long as I could, it was time to tell my mother I’m moving.

Eighteen months earlier she did something pretty unforgivable to me which, of course, I’ve found hard to forgive. She let me know how unimportant I am to her. My brothers and their wives haven’t spoken to me for two years, I honestly don’t know why. I expect it makes them feel better about themselves, somehow. I don’t admit this to myself for another year, but one of the reasons I’m leaving is to put some distance between me and my family.

I may sound blithe, telling you this, but, really, I’m devastated by it all. I’m sick with hurt. I still lie in bed, deep into the night, troubled. By three, maybe later, I can keep my eyes open no longer, until I close them, that is, and then I’m wide awake.

I’ve only spoken to my mother a few times since our argument, only seen her once. I need to tell her I’m moving, so I call. Her first reaction was to be excited for me. She phoned me a few days later and was still excited, so I guess it was her second reaction, too.

She said she’d visited my father’s grave and told him my news. He was, I understand, thrilled by it. I imagine he would be, actually.

Today’s word: mish-puh-chuh – family – משפחה

See also: A year agoMy mother: a toe joband The brothers grim.

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Fountain in Aix. Photo by Simon Wilder
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