Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Graduations, cats and bags

Towards the end of January Katie, my younger daughter, graduated at Durham University. Sally and I … and Katie as well … enjoyed the day enormously.

There were occasional moments of drama.

Sally had just finished showering at the hotel … just after I had finished showering … when there was a knock at the door.

A maintenance man needed to get at the bathroom … downstairs was experiencing a bit of a flood.

In a way this wasn’t a big surprise. To get hot water the shower needed to be on full power. When it was on full power … well … there was a lot of water.

At the time both Sally and myself were … I was going to say scantily clad … but the word unclad is closer to the reality.

I wrapped a towel around my waist and let the man in to check out the bathroom.

It wasn’t until after he’d gone that I realised my toenails were a bright shiny red nail polish kind of colour.

Bill Bryson is the Chancellor at Durham University … and so Katie got to shake his hand and be congratulated by him. One of the new Graduates gave Bill a high five rather than a handshake.

In his speech Bill explained that sometimes he even got a hug or a kiss.

He joked that the most important thing that the new Graduates needed to do was to work out a way to actually beat Germany at football.

He lamented that we seem to not be able to plan for the future … even though the architects of Durham Cathedral, where the graduation ceremony takes place, had planned way ahead into the future … so long ago.

Of course, this is an over simplification. Katie and I talked about this later … and … unusually for us … actually had similar views and admitted it.

Needless to say, it was a very proud … in the nicest sense of the word … day.

In mid July Sarah … elder daughter … graduated at the University of Manchester. Just a few days after Sparkle … so it was another trip to North West England for me. Again the graduation was a very, very special occasion for us all. Another proud day.

We spent the night before the graduation with my brother and sister in law who live near Manchester.

It must have been about 2:00 am when we were well into a bottle of Bushmills Whiskey that my brother asked me about my fingernails.

Why are they so long?

Have I got nail polish on them?

Have I got to nails that are extremely long as well? In fact I don’t … but they do have red nail polish on.

“So … what is it all about?” he asks.

I’ve thought about this moment a lot. But haven’t rehearsed any answers.

“Do you really want to know?”

He says that he does.

I remind him of a trip that M (my sister in law) had made to Brighton with a friend a few years ago.

P (my brother) doesn’t remember.

M smiles … recollecting the conversation. They had ended up accidentally calling in at a bar where there was a singer that was a tranny. She doesn’t say anything, though.

Me and my brother head to the kitchen to get a glass of wine.

I look at him … and … a little hesitantly … say “I’m a transvestite.”

He is a little gobsmacked.

But not appalled.

The door opens … M is about to say g’night. But before she does … I tell her as well.

A little gobsmacked but not appalled.

Then M (P & M’s younger son) wanders in. I tell him.

“So?” he says. Not even a little gobsmacked and fine about it.

P & M haven’t worked out exactly what they feel about it all yet. They need some time. I don’t know if they’ll ever want to get to know Andrea. That’s up to them.

But it’s good to have been able to take the opportunity to tell them. And for them to be able to accept things … even if not able to embrace them.

We talked as little about things like … how long? Why? Who knows? Sparkle.

Next day we met up with them for a meal to celebrate Sarah’s graduation … no opportunity to talk further … but also no tension.

The cat, as they say, is getting more and more out of the bag.


Pretty Sissy Dani said...

Congrats on the graduations! My younger son graduated college in May (he wants to be a screenwriter); elder son is studying for a doctorate in computer science. Does it seem to you, too, that they grow up awfully fast?

Andrea said...


Thank you so much ... and congrats to you and yours also.

And they do grow up awfully fast.

I remember and still sometimes experience the conflicting feelings of how good it is to see them grow in confidence, independence and all that they achieve ... and how hard it is not to feel so needeed.

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