“A stone on the path means the tea’s not ready, a stone in the hand means somebody’s angry, the stone inside you still hasn’t hit bottom.”

I haven’t really done much this week.

I went to Japanese class on Monday evening, and I went into uni for the day on Tuesday. Then on Wednesday I overslept and missed lectures, and then I had to rush to get ready so I could go to my driving lesson before catching the bus to go up to Leeds. I had another assessment centre on Thursday. I wasn’t looking forward to it, although I was looking forward to a night in a fancy hotel.

The train ride was fairly quick but it was boring. And packed. I was packed in with another lady, both of us with our suitcases wedged in front of us, both of us reading. It was quite nice in a way, to be doing the same thing. But not particularly comfortable. Eventually I felt a little sick and more than a little moody, so I sat and listened to music and stared out the window for the rest of the train ride. I got into Leeds in the evening, and it was strange being there again. My sister had gone to university in Leeds, so I associated Leeds as her city, and as a place I have many memories of spending time with my sister there.

As I stepped out through the ticket barriers I fully expected to see my sister waiting for me there. I’d never been to Leeds and not had her there. I saw her so clearly, right down to the details- her clothes, her silly hat, her smile- that I had to stop for a moment and try and bring myself back to reality. Nothing had changed in that station and it was like stepping back in time. There was my sister waiting, there was the McDonald’s she brought me to for breakfast before I got my train that one time. That memory made me smile: it had only been around 7am but I had insisted that she buy me a mcflurry, and naturally I felt nauseous the whole train ride home consequently, much to my sisters amusement. And then the other memories came and I longed to be with my sister. I wanted to go back to her house and spend the whole weekend lazying about marathoning The IT Crowd. I wanted to go buy cheap £1 cheese pizza slices with her. I wanted to go see bizarre French films at her local art cinema with her. I wanted to take selfies with her in front of her uni. (Well actually, it was our reflections in a glass building, which only made it that more ridiculous.) I wanted to go see Dir en Grey with her again, my first concert, taste vodka for the first time with her at that concert, curl up and go to sleep beside her and wake up to my sister annoyed because I’d punched her accidentally whilst I’d been sleeping, although we were so tired we ended up laughing over it. We’d always laugh over the fact that she slept like the dead whilst I am a violent sleeper who moves around a lot, all flailing arms and cold feet pressed against her.

There were so many good memories. I remembered that one weekend I went to hers after fighting with my mother, how she took me in on less than a days notice, the way I went to see her on my birthdays – she took me to see Dir en grey and complained the whole time, but sat through it and took videos for me. She took me to a comedy show for my 18th birthday and introduced me to different types of alcohol and let me get drunk, but also told me when to stop. That that was my limit and I must always stick to it. (I decided after that not to drink at all, but I still appreciated it. )

OK maybe I’m making the memories more glossy than they should be. There was that time she wanted to go to a bar with me and some of her friends, but I was too young so we all had to go back to hers. Her friends were being drunk and rowdy and I hated it. But even then my sister made sure to attend to me- to give me something to eat, to tell her friends to back off if they were being too much. That’s why my sister is my sister, but also my best friend, and even a second mother to me. I was always aware of how she nurtured and protected me. It made me feel so loved. It blew me away really- how much she loved me. How lucky I was to have that kind of relationship with my sister. I thought things would always stay that way between us. That we’d never drift apart. Other siblings, but not us. Nothing would ever be able to break us up. She would always be there. Her standing in front, protecting, and me standing behind, being protected.

Except something did change. She grew up and entered a new stage in her life. I remained the same. And I am taking the changing nature of our relationship hard because I need my sister so much. Probably more than she needs me. Grief is such a weird emotion. I didn’t know it was possible to feel so devastated over something so intangible and hard to describe as sisterhood, and the loss of whatever it is.

Arriving in Leeds was like arriving home to something, something familiar about it, but also strange because that familiarity was long gone. I stepped out of the station, shook of the memories and focused on finding the hotel.

I did a literal double take when I saw the hotel – the company had booked me a room at the Queens. Which is one of the best hotels in Leeds, according to both google and my sister. It had a red carpet to the door and spotlights shining down on the entrance, a concierge in a top hat and suit waiting before the door. I couldn’t bring myself to enter for a moment and when I did and the concierge greeted me as madam and wished me a good stay I felt desperately anxious that maybe I’d got the wrong place. That only got worse when they couldn’t find my booking. Thankfully they eventually did and I went to the lifts – which were lined with golden mirrors inside if you please – and to my room. It wasn’t quite what I was expecting. Lets just say that 4 star in Bangkok is very different from 4 star in the UK. It was nice though. I was taken with the décor – all bold patterns, reds and creams and dark wood. I looked forward to a quiet evening in doing work.

I went out to get Mcdonalds, how classy am I eating cheap mcd’s in my four star fancy hotel, and then sat back and did not work – but watched kdramas and enjoyed my crappy food, being able to have the heating on really high and the quiet, clean atmosphere. The next day I couldn’t get the shower to work and had to phone reception to get someone to fix it and lets just say it wasn’t broken. That was embarrassing. I think I realised why it was a four star hotel then, and even more so at breakfast. The service was impeccable. From the polite front desk staff, to the friendly concierge (who remembered me the next day!) to the service at breakfast. Man, this was the first place which has had a disclaimer about allergens on the menu. So I didn’t feel too uncomfortable asking the waiter if I could get porridge made with water. And he was so nice about it. I got my porridge with water. I got green tea. Fresh cut fruits. It was delicious and the service was friendly and helpful and so wonderfully aware of and accommodating to different dietary requirements. It was the first hotel breakfast buffet where I had that luxury. After that I packed up and checked out and waited for the taxi. There was a mix up with the booking which was stressful but I eventually did get to my assessment centre, even if I was unfortunately 20 minutes late.

It didn’t go badly but it could have gone better. Of all things to go wrong I ended up having a coughing fit in the middle of my technical interview- a full on eyes watering, snot dripping, cannot breathe, choking, kind of coughing fit. I had to excuse myself from the meeting it got so bad. It was not the image I wanted to present. The day was turning out to be embarrassing in all kinds of weird ways. After the day ended I went back to the hotel to pick up my luggage and get changed in the cramped hotel bathroom stalls, into something comfortable, because I still hate wearing work attire. This time I wore a skirt and it was good for keeping me sitting up straight, but also so tight around the waist it was hard to move or like, breathe. I was wearing stockings too and they kept shifting down. Such a pain. I got subway for a hasty supper at the train station, very healthy eating these pasty few days right, and joined the crowds waiting for the train. The crowds were so thick that they came almost to the edge of the platform, and I felt worried watching anyone walking past, as they did have to walk right on the edge of the platform to get past. Eventually the train came – late- and I was squished up into my seat again as it was again packed. I have always wondered, ever since I commuted by train and every time I use the train since, where all these people are going and what for. Train stations get so busy, even the long distance trains get packed up daily, where is everyone going? Why? It fascinates me.

I was exhausted, too exhausted to really care about being uncomfortably cramped, and so exhausted even that I passed out and only woke a few minutes before the train pulled into my stop. On one hand, lucky me for waking up then. On the other hand, I could have easily ended up in Plymouth. Can you imagine? I dragged myself and my bag to the bus station, it was pouring with rain just to make my life that more fun, and very dark and quiet in the back streets I had to walk along, which was scary. I got the bus and eventually got home, went to bed.

Haven’t really done any work this week. Have managed to send off a few more job applications. Have mostly spent a lot of time in bed, exhausted and not feeling very well. (I have my third cold/possible virus in three months. My body hates me right now.) It does not really feel like I’m at university right now. I feel distant from it. I feel distant from everything, to be honest. I am aware that I am becoming reclusive. I haven’t been to work in a couple of weeks, I have only just been keeping up with my driving lessons, I have been skipping a lot of lectures and meetings and not studying. I get this way when I get sad and start feeling like whats the point. I start withdrawing. I want to quit everything and just stay indoors and never, ever leave. Its not good. Again, I’ll have to set the deadline as Monday and hope that this week will be the week I can do better.