After all this time away in Japan, you’d think my world would have expanded. Instead it’s shrinking sharply. From the first sting of realising I had to return home to the numb gnaw of Gatwick International Arrivals empty of anyone to meet me, my world folded inwards like precision origami. It condensed so rapidly I was certain that the 7 times only rule was sure to apply: there was surely only a finite amount it could continue. But, as unflinchingly as Britney Gallivan, the initial few days disproved what I carelessly mistook for fact.

There was an ugly pit of anger as I stared down into my (as always) disappointing Costa soy latte. The good emotions are always the first to disappear. I’m left with the dull ache of frustration, annoyance. This is compounded by an hour wait as actually he got the wrong airport. I know it is an innocent mistake but it feels like proof of what is to come.

I didn’t realise how much I have always wanted to be greeted by a cardboard sign with my name on it. It is not the way my family has ever done things. There are no discernible occasions to mark life events. This in a sense turns them immediately into non-events. In an uncomfortably quiet drive back to Gloucestershire (uncomfortable for him because he thought I was angry at him being late – uncomfortable for me because I’ve just passed the 7th fold threshold), I developed the ability to see the future.

I saw immediately that I would walk into the house that nothing will have changed. The crushing sense that the worst thing is not that nothing here has changed but that I had not changed. It bundled tighter and tighter into my chest.

Then I whisked away to Scotland, to the Mother-Land. More flurries of the same. None of it should have hurt because none of it was new, but the snipping dsyfunctionalities furthered untethered me. Two sibling disagreements later, I find my routine has reduced to the following list:

Daily Positive Things (I scrawl, in black biro, on the back of an empty envelope)

  • Brush teeth x 2
  • Healthy brunch
  • Shower
  • 30 minutes Wii Fit

As an afterthought I add:

Extras

  • Wax 27/04
  • Ring doctors

Sometimes I watch Australian Masterchef. If it isn’t on the Sky whatever-it-is channel, then I watch a prerecorded Masterchef (UK). I don’t enjoy it as much since reading that Gregg and John don’t get along – although, this is not as distressing as the time I discovered that Jools Holland’s Hootenanny wasn’t live for the NYE countdown.

Mum and her partner flick over from Classic Radio (switching off mid-Baker Street sax solo – sacrilege) to a C-rate horror film they’ve recorded. There was a toss up between Attack of the Lederhosen-Zombies (yes, real) and Dark House. They’ve gone for the latter.

Next I’ll go and make a hot chocolate. Always in the oversized Simpsons mug, there’s some sort of pun about donuts. 5 teaspoons of mixture, boiling water to dissolve the powder, two thirds almond milk and one third water. Microwave for 1:10. I scoop out a teaspoon of nutella and suck on it like it’s a lolly pop, it’s a pretty good timer. Takes me until 14 seconds usually. Enough time to throw the spoon in the sink and grab a handful of little pink and white marshmallows to scatter on top. I’ll be honest, it doesn’t taste that good. The marshmallows turn to gloop and underneath is a watery imitation of hot chocolate.

Later I’ll sleep. And maybe tomorrow I’ll go through the same routine. Except with the lederhosen zombies instead.

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