“He wanted to bar his doors also, to seal any windows he might own, to be a tower strong and certain, untouchable, alone.”

Yesterday I had my presentation. I slept through all my alarms and only just woke up in time to have one last run through before rushing to my maths tutorial. I ended up walking into maths late, which was terrifically embarrassing when I was all dressed up. OK not dressed up but I’m such a slob on a daily basis that I’m fairly sure I shocked the guys with my more polished appearance. She’s wearing a skirt? And makeup? Indeed. I actually do not know why I bothered going to my maths tutorial, as it wasn’t like I could concentrate. I was super worked up with nerves. The hour crept by slowly, and then I had no choice but to head to my presentation. The venue was my tutors office and the audience the other members of my tutor group. 6 people, excluding myself.

The first guy went up to present and he was really good. His presentation was well put together, attractive and technical. He was confident and talked about his subject with ease.  Another guy went, with another technical, confidently presented presentation. Then I volunteered myself. I knew that if I left it any longer I’d be too nervous so I decided to go for it. It turned out to be quite awful. Standing up there presenting to a room full of strangers was so different to presenting to just a room. I rushed through it and I am fairly certain I missed out a couple of important points, though I was hardly aware of what I was saying, if I was fidgeting, if I was even breathing. I felt self conscious about everything from the way I was dressed, to my presentation itself. My topic was a little different and I did not know what they were making of it. Others had chosen to look at technologies and I had chosen? Energy generation in South Africa- how demand side management and energy efficiency are important to South Africa’s future. Yes, I knew it was a little out there but I did not realise what an utterly random topic I had chosen until I was standing there, trying to present it. Once it was over I had two questions which I managed to answer, but not well. Then I got feedback from my tutor. She said it was very interesting but rushed. I said sorry, automatically but she brushed it off, saying again that it was interesting and she actually appreciated that it wasn’t technical! She said she had heard lots of people do renewable and energy generation, but few who looked outside the technical side of things. I was so glad she saw it like that because that is how I see it! The amazing thing about engineering, for me, is that you can make an impact on the world around you with it- both positive and negative. And it is important as an engineer to think about that impact. I found it very interesting exploring the real world impacts of generation, and lack of generation, for this presentation.

I sat through the rest of the presentations, though if you ask me what any of the topics were I would not be able to say. Afterwards I went back to my room and tried to relax, then later I went out to attend a guest lecture the uni was hosting. I rushed there thinking I was late, and it was going to be this huge prestigious event and it would be very embarrassing to walk in late and maybe there wouldn’t even be seats… Turns out it was in this very random, very small little room in a random location. When I got there it had not started and was not even close to starting and the room was half empty. I sat down at the back and got out my phone to look busy. An acquaintance of mine was there but he was sitting with his friends so I did not wish to bother him. To my surprise, he came over and sat next to me. We started chatting and I rambled on about my presentation and how awful it was, still quite worked up with nerves and awkwardness. I would not be surprised if he got not one word out of 10.

The lecturer eventually showed up and the lecture started and…it was not what I was expecting. My friend leaned over to whisper to me and instead of telling him to shut up, I ended up talking to him for almost the entire presentation. Yes, I know. it was terribly rude. But hell, I was presented out. I’d sat through 5 presentations, and hosted my own. I was still a bundle of nerves and restless energy. My friend seemed quite hyper too, I think it was because he was hungry. Either way his energy made my own restlessness worse, and I found myself going from being irritated at him for talking through the lecture, to relaxing into it, and even prompting conversation. it wasn’t even a great conversation- with both of us frequently going “Huh? What was that?” and likely having two entirely separate conversations at several points..But it was kinda fun, just talking about this and that. It has been a long time since I’ve had a friend I can whisper to in class. To be honest, I wonder if I am getting too relaxed around this guy though. I’m fairly sure I end up saying too much to him and he remembers and I think he tells his friends. I don’t quite trust him, just like anyone, really. Friendship terrifies me, I try so hard to distance myself from people, yet I’m only human, and when someone makes the effort to come to me, to not  get annoyed by my iffiness, that makes me happy and I cannot help but relax, begin to trust. :(  Well, the lecture ended which meant I could escape the social awkwardness, back to my room, and my books and dramas. Later, I kinda felt like crying. It drains me being around people, and I don’t like that.

Anyway, now for today. Today I woke up and checked my emails to find my dad had dropped a bombshell on me- he wants to come to Japan with me. At first I was shocked, and then I started to cry. I have no idea what prompted such an extreme reaction. I guess I really wanted to do this alone. I like travelling alone, and all the freedom it gives. And I guess I was looking for what my last Japan trip gave me- time to be myself without anyone around to judge, time away from everything and anyone, time to heal. I came back from Japan a different person last time and its probably foolish to expect that again, but I suppose there was a part that wondered if once again I would leave Japan feeling that same sort of contentedness that had gotten me through my foundation year and started to get my through my first year…before how difficult my degree was caught up with me and I once again started to waver. That’s such a deeply personal reasoning for my dad not to come though that I could not admit it to him. And at the end of the day? I’d feel cruel saying no to my dad. It pisses me off no end that he tells me this now, after I’ve spent hours researching and putting together a solo trip catering to myself and without a car. If I had known it was both of us I would wish for an extra day in Tokyo and Sapporo both, but now we have these time limits and I am going to have to give up certain things I wish to do. And yet, I know I am being selfish thinking those sort of thoughts. Reading his email there is something vulnerable about it and that always scares me. I’m used to be dad being strong. I wonder what is going on home now, with my mother grieving over my grandmother. I realize now, many hours later, was that it was the tone of my fathers email that made me cry. By the tone of his email is seems clear to me that my dad needs this holiday.

But I also think my dad wants a holiday, he wants to see somewhere as different as Japan. He wants to travel and see things, just as his daughters have. It must suck to be the one stuck at home, whilst your children are off seeing the world. And I cannot fault him that. Japan is a beautiful, exciting place. I love it so much and to be able to share that with my family, to be able to let them see why I love it so much would be amazing. Of course, it would also be great being just me and my dad. You know how it is when you have siblings- its hard to catch your parents alone. I like spending time with my father. There is also te benefit that he can hire a car which would be helpful in northern Japan. So I said yes, of course he can come. I have no idea what is happening to my plans now.