Thursday, 30 August 2012

An autobiography of sorts.

Aside from the ability to share our thoughts, fears and daily ponderings, one of the beauties of the blogosphere is getting to know others - to form a connection and identify with complete strangers on such a high level. I've been blogging for years in one form or another but have only just realised that many of you reading this may, as it stands, know absolutely nothing of yours truly.

I suppose in a roundabout way, this post could almost be described as my definitive autobiographical summary; not to say that all posts aren't autobiographical but I'm sure you get my meaning.

I guess a good place to start is with a picture. Taken at my graduation ball in 2010, it takes my breath away to think that over two years have passed already. The eagle eyed amongst you will have already fathomed that I am the one in the middle ...

So that aside, my name is Wayne and as I write these words I am in my 23rd year on this here planet we call Earth. I was born in a rural village in the East of England and resided there my entire life until moving up the midlands to enroll in university back in 2007.

My Father - a humble greengrocer, was well known and well liked around the neighbouring villages. Though I didn't appreciate him as much as I maybe should have done as a youngster, he still amazes me with his relaxed views on life; something I have only really began to recognise as I grow older and encounter other parents with completely different outlooks.

My mother was a solid northern lass, born and raised on the outskirts of Newcastle. She met my Father by chance, fell in love and took the opportunity to move herself and her children from a previous abusive marriage down to the east to give them a better a life. Those children, my three half siblings still live in the village though my relationship with them is not as a strong as I would like. I could come up with an elaborate reasoning, about how we have such different views and grew apart but the fact of the matter is that the youngest is still 15 years older than myself and because of this, we never really had the chance to bond.

Growing up, I was spoiled rotten. Though technically I was not an only child, I was to my Father and he made sure that I always had everything I needed. We didn't have a great amount of money but I definitely never went without - to me, I felt like the richest child in the world. It is only now looking back that I realise exactly why my Father was rarely home; he was out working every hour god sent just to make sure that his family were comfortable and had everything they needed. This meant that I was often at home with my mother and as a result, I was always closest to her - in fact, we had an extremely close relationship and I can't think of any secrets that we failed to share. I can remember many times that we worked together to outwit my Father, conjuring up white lies so that we had extra money to eat out or even to get out of social functions that he insisted we all needed to go to. In some ways, she was less like a parent and more like a best friend - something that has developed into somewhat of a cliche but in this case, it really is true.

As a child I loved school. No-one in my family was particularly intelligent - many had common sense and business ability but there were no real family members that you would call academic. I, on the other-hand, was the definition of academic; constantly reading, writing, watching documentaries and insisting that I received encyclopaedias for Christmas. I often wonder whether my parents questioned this abnormal behaviour as I could never imagine my dear Father wanting to raise a geek but I guess they left well alone knowing that it would benefit me tenfold later on in life. I was encouraged to learn right from an early age and as a result, I excelled in school right the way through to the age of eighteen when I left for university. I think it came as a relief to many that I also proved to be popular with other students during my school life - you would only see why if you were ever to meet my Father but as I said earlier, I really could not imagine how he would have coped with a child outcast. He's a funny man in his own way.

Despite all this, underneath my family was trying it's best to hide a darkness that was threatening to pull everything apart - my dear Mother was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.

Though she had always had it, I never even paid it a second thought as a child. She sometimes had the odd wobble here and there and I remember how she often had to go and lie down for long periods of time. I thought this was normal, I thought that all hardworking Mothers experienced it. It wasn't until I hit my early teens that I really began to sit up and notice. I suddenly saw what this horrific illness was doing to the woman I loved more than anything else in the world and I just could not get my head around why it was happening to her - she had not asked for it, she was in perfect health and there it was consuming her right before our eyes. By the time I was 14, she had lost the ability to walk and I could see that she was beginning to give up. One thing that defined my Mother was the fact that she always took pride in her appearance; she was immaculate and never left the house with a hair out of place. Now there she was, rarely even bothering to brush her hair. Every trip to the bathroom was an assault to every inch of her body. She could not go out, she was left to sit at home each and every day whilst my poor Father worked to help support us. Maybe I did notice it then and dismissed it because I did not want to believe it but it really began to take it's toll on my Father. I could see the sadness in his eyes when he came home each night to the woman he loved being taken from him. If I'm brutally honest, the worst part was the notion that this was not a terminal illness - it was an unrelenting force of pain that slowly, over time attacked every part of her body until she was left a shell of her former self. MS does not even have the common decency to kill you.

At school I was trying my best to not let my home life bother me. I was outwardly happy and carefree and the majority of my friends did not even know that my Mother was ill. Maybe I thought that if people did not know then it would somehow miraculously go away. Funnily enough, my Father was the same but I could tell that he was struggling and it showed. Something that he has never been good at is hiding emotion; I am completely the opposite but maybe that is because I was forced to learn the fine art so young. In many ways, that tough part of my upbringing has made me the hardened individual I am today. Not hardened in the sense that I am cold and unkind to others but emotionally in person I am distant and one of my greatest fears is allowing others to see how I am thinking and feeling. I don't think that this is necessarily a bad thing, I actually quite like it so please save the pity party for the time being.

In August 2005, our worst fears were realised. It is the most vivid memory of my life and to this day, it has never ever lost its colour, despite carrying it with me wherever I go. I could go into fine detail right here, recalling that memory as though I were reliving it all over again but I feel that would be unfair - something that has effected me so much does not deserve to be a side note within a much larger story. Maybe one day I will post about it; in fact I think I need to but for now I'll just inform you that my Mother passed away.

Obviously, it turned my world upside down in so many ways. Life changed but I can't sit here and say that it was all for the worse. Relationships were torn apart and others were brought together. Suddenly I was forced to interact on a much greater level with my Father, a man who I had never really shared anything with. They say that life is a learning curve; full of ups and downs and twists and turns - I just wish that life had allowed me to reach a state of adulthood before it began to teach me any lessons.

I left school with successful grades. Though my career options changed multiple times, I still managed to become the first person in my family to go to university - an experience which has, again, shaped me beyond belief. I chose to study journalism due to it's close links with the english language and despite finding out that it was not necessarily what I wanted to do with my life, I loved my course and would not go back and change anything for the world. During my time at university, I learned so much about myself and met so many amazing people - when people say that university is 10% learning and 90% life experience, they really aren't wrong. I guess my only qualm is paying thousands of pounds for the privilege. For those three years living away from home, I had the time of my life and no doubt my tales of uni life will creep in from time to time on this little old blog.

(with my Father and Nan)

After graduating with an honours degree, I said my goodbyes to the friends I was so used to spending every waking hour with and prepared to move back home. Though it wasn't too long ago, I really can't remember how I felt about this at the time - the reason being that life once again decided to throw me a curve ball. A few months previous, in a desperate bid to tie down the prospect of a job during such a dire economic downturn, I had embarked on a frenzied session of uploading my CV (resume to the Americans out there) to what seemed like every available online agency. The fruits of my labour were few and far between with most agencies turning away graduates as they were already having enough trouble finding work for the rest of society. I had literally just driven back to the village ready to unpack when I received a call from a particular agency asking if I was interested in a graduate position within a private firm based in the city where I had attended university. Without second thought, I said yes, attended several interviews and the rest I guess you could say is history.

Now I'm back in the rural english city of Lincoln, living happily with my partner Adam. My struggle with coming to terms with the fact that I am gay is a complicated one - in fact, I'm still not 100% 'out' but  all I know is that I have finally come to a point at which I am happy and I often wonder what I would do without Adam. A few years on, he still overwhelms me with how much he cares.

At the risk of sounding like a stuck record, as mentioned in my 'Taking Stock' post, I sit here now unable to believe how life has worked out for me so far. There were times in the past when I truly believed that my world was about to crumble and if someone had told me then that in just a few years time I would be holding down a successful job and be sharing my first home with the person I love, I most certainly wouldn't have believed them. Of course, there are many many elements that I have left out of this brief synopsis of my 23 years, many of them happening just one or two years prior but what good would a blog be if I ran out of material after my third post? I suppose this small insight has helped to shed some light on the person behind these words and in some way, I hope that it adds some relevance to the tales I'll come to tell.

It all boils down to the reason I blog. Like most human beings I have a constant longing to make my mark on the world, to look back on life at a grand old age and be content with the fact that I have used my time wisely. In an ideal world, this would be easy - pack up, make your own decisions and choose your own path but life has a sneaky tendency to throw you off course and guide you in directions that you may not necessarily be happy with. More often than not, these reluctant decisions are based on the fact that, despite the desire to do as we wish, we still need to keep ourselves afloat and occasionally that requires self sacrifice.

Currently, in my early years, the tedium of life is still the dominating factor in every decision I make but, one day, the roles will be reversed and I will be in a place that allows me to direct life as I see fit.

Believe me, I cannot wait for those days to come but until then, I'll look forward to documenting every step of the way.


Ms. Moon said...

I'm so glad you did this post. I feel as if I know you a little bit and you have had so many experiences that are obviously strong parts of why you are the person you are.
I am glad to meet you, Wayne! You sound like someone I would like to know in the "real" world. And I am happy to know you here in this one.

Elizabeth said...

Thank you for your kind words on my blog. I so look forward to getting to know you -- this is a wonderful way to start! I am charmed by the way you've described your parents --

Wayne said...

Ms Moon - I'm glad that the outcome of the post is that others can understand me just that bit better. The beauty of the interweb; we can get to know others from all across the globe!

Elizabeth - You're an inspirational person, the pleasure is all mine! Thanks for stopping by :)

liv said...

Wayne, what a lovely way to start your "blog life" here. I'm so honored that you've shared what has made you, YOU, in your 23 year journey. And look forward to getting to know you better.

Your Mum sounded like a wonderful woman and from the sound of your writing, she left a lot of herself here in you. Keep writing, it's wonderful!

liv said...

And PS: you are cute as a button!!

Wayne said...

Liv - Thank you so much for stopping by and leaving such kind words! Your blog is charming and I look forward to getting to know you too!