Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Good to be normal

Started the year by visiting Suburbia.

Mr Death got there before me. Playfully, he cut down the hostess's father, slicing Christmas Day and Boxing Day into two halves of the same holiday; Before Dad Died and After Dad Died.

Presumably Mr Death hoped to snatch away the rest too, turning the celebratory New Year's Party into a commemorative Mourning Wake; taking with him not only the end of the year but the new start, finishing in one stroke all celebrations of returning life, hopeful dawns, and fresh beginnings.

He failed, of course. This is Suburbia. Suburbia takes death in its stride. They see void, and defy it. They defeat it with normal, laying out the tablecloth, spreading out the savouries, putting out the sweets, and loading the nibble tray with Tesco cheese balls, mini breadsticks and savoury onion rings. Death does not defeat Suburbia. Suburbia defeats death.

The invited neighbourhood attends. Collecting here for New Year's drinks, chat, and nibble, is Brenda from down the road; Joyce from over the road; Gerald from up the road; and the entire family from the street over the way by this one. There is laughter, raised glasses and talk of lounge paint and holidays in Wales.

I am the interloper; I come on a drive of 40 minutes cross-country, to see an old friend of 20 years or more. After a time, I say goodbye with a hug, grateful how Suburbia is, that her normal carries on, comforting, quietly in strength, defying death; grateful there is small talk about things not being how they used to be; grateful there is resilience and determination and fortitude, and it is all expressed in the onion rings, cheese balls, and how-do-you-do's, never minds, mustn't grumbles, and see you again, let's make it soon.

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