Even from the double doorway, its clear that the room that smells of sawdust and electrical current, or perhaps ancient floor polish combined with brand new dust. Just the aroma was enough to release a weight into the pit of my stomach, and its name was social anxiety. Social fear, to be precise. Or to be even more precise, the dislike of leaving the house after dark and the even stranger dislike of attending school meetings without a child in tow.
I enter the school hall and find myself a chair at the side, half way back. As I sit I realise that turquoise spray paint decorates each brown chair’s rear. Presumably intended as a blob of identification, the paint has dripped and dropped like the liquid plastic it is.
With aching stomach and creaking back, I watch as the Amazonian in front of me sweats profusely. She wiggles her feet with skin yellow-dry and scaly, and for a second I’m sure that she’s an entirely different form of creature than human. Still, she seems very nice – smiley, chatty and sociable – so she’s better than I am.
As the hall fills with the white noise of other peoples’ unintelligible chatter, I feel as though I’m the only person alone. The only person resentful at this time imposition, and this weird return to high school education that all parents must tolerate. But, I’m not tolerating.
A man gesticulates in front of the projector screen. His black jacket with red arms makes him look like a superhero. I realise I’ve forgotten my glasses and know I’ll need a superhero to see the PowerPoint’s text. It isn’t just the blindness that makes me feel out of it. I’m just lost. Dazed. Unseeing. Unhearing. I want to go home.
A beautiful tattooed woman takes the seat next to me and I am temporarily distracted by her punky purple hair and multitude of silver rings. The youngest child of two snuggles contently on her lap and I hear him telling his mummy that he loves her.
My eyes blur as I look at the school’s handout. None of the words make sense.
I look again at the Amazonian as she presses her feet onto her soles, and for the first time I notice her ankle tattoo – a lizard climbing. I’m grateful when a latecomer takes the seat next to her as it enables me to concentrate instead on the smoothness of the young lad’s fuzzy scalp. He’s a little lad, but big too – on the verge of adolescence or perhaps just past it. He rests his head on her shoulder and she kisses the top of his head.
My heart melts and the school presentation begins.
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