This is the most extended period of time I’ve spent with just my parents since I was three-years-old, since the first of my two younger brothers was born. Just over a week. We are staying in a sixth-floor apartment that overlooks the main beach in the town my Dad’s brother’s wife grew up in. It is larger and fancier than most of the places we stayed in when I was a child — there are two double rooms, two bathrooms and a walk-in pantry that I’d love to have in my own kitchen. There is a roof-top patio.
For the first few days, they apologise for their oddness, perhaps not realising that my silence is a quiet appreciation, rather than embarrassment. I love that they are mad. Perhaps because it explains my own quirks.
We go to the supermarket to buy things to put in the walk-in-pantry. Somewhere in the middle aisles, it becomes a rule that we are only allowed to look at one side of the aisle as we wander down it, necessitating a doubling-back so we can view the other. ‘Like Job,’ one of us says. ‘If you look at the other side, you’ll turn into a pillar of salt.’ To move from one side of the aisle to the other, we have to touch the end, like touching the end of the pool before swimming another lap. We traverse the rest of the supermarket in this fashion.
In the last aisle, Dad walks ahead, doubles-back before Mum and I.
‘You should see all the amazing things on this side,’ he says.
‘I can’t look,’ Mum returns. ‘I can’t! It’s against the rules!’
I run, exaggeratedly, to the end of the aisle, touch the wall, and double-back so I too can see the varieties of toilet paper and tissues. There is a woman, a stranger, walking towards me. I don’t look at her face, but I imagine she is either baffled or smirking at the adult woman running like a child through the supermarket, her parents laughing at her, and I couldn’t care less.