Life, sings Lennon, is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.
Well, I’ve learned that lesson. In fact, I’m sure there’s no one who hasn’t, because everyone has had some plans interfered with by life, fate, God or whatever name you want to give the energy that keeps the world going round.
I had a plan. I would go to college, finish my degree at 23, study a master’s degree in education for one or two years and become a Secondary School language teacher. This would hopefully give me the means and time to write on my spare time and maybe have some work published, even if by some small editorial.
Sounds good, right? It didn’t work out.
I did go to University, I studied Catalan Language and Literature in Girona – a thirty-minute ride from home -, I even changed to UOC, a long-distance online University, half-way through my degree when I started to work full-time; but I didn’t finish at 23, or 24, or 25… At some point in my plan, I got stuck.
Since the beginning, it was chaos at home. My now-recognized bipolar mum seemed to have forgotten the usual duties of a parent: get the children ready on the morning, feed them at meal times, take them and pick them up from school, put them to sleep… When she was down, she wouldn’t wake up early, she would be always too tired to clean or do anything, and sleep at unusual hours, often forgetting to be at school at five. When she was hyperactive she would never be home, she would leave before the sun came up, stay for lunch at some friend’s house without previous notice or come back at late hours.
I didn’t want my sister to be affected by this, so making sure that she was ready for school before heading to Girona in the morning became part of my routine until I was sure she was able to take care of it herself. It was my responsibility too to be back in town by the time she got out of school, so I never got to hang out after classes; I would get her clothes ready for the following day, shower her or make sure she’d showered, attend her school parent meetings – either alone or with my mother – because it was preferable than my mum going alone; I would take her to the doctor because my mother’s memory or capacity of attention had become unreliable… You get the picture. I went from being an involved big sister to becoming a mum without being an actual one – other parents from school usually thought I was my sister’s mother because they saw me more often than her -, and, although I admit I did it voluntarily and that I would do it again because I felt it was the right thing to do, I don’t think it was my place.
Where was my dad? You may ask. Well, he was working, making sure we had a house, and food, and clothes… and he still helped a lot with the house, but he never managed to deal with my mum and her illness – to be honest, neither did I.
So, in 2013 our chaotic situation got to a ridiculous point of drama and my parents divorced – again.
This time my sister stayed with us. She was 9, old enough to comprehend, too young to understand. The first year was hard, she spent every second weekend with my mother and part of the holidays and every time she came back she would miss her and cry, which would upset my father, who’s never been good at handling emotions, so he would yell, and I would get angry at him… as I said, it was hard.
Also during that time, the manager of the supermarket where I used to work in the summer offered me a full-time job and I took it, because money was going to be tight and I wanted to help as much as I could. So, I was 23, my parents divorced again, my mum still ill, my sister still young and my degree still not finished.
Like Lennon says: life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.
Did you have a plan too? Did you accomplish it?