On Saturday I cautiously tiptoed, in my Comfy Shoes, into The Barbican for There’s More to Life Than Children. I spotted and overheard two ladies who appeared to be going to the same event and decided to follow them as I had no idea where I was going. One of them looked familiar but the butterflies in my stomach held me back from saying anything until she turned and faced me in full and I said cautiously Chiara? Her smile and recognition of me helped to calm the butterflies in my stomach and I had my first hug of the day.
As I walked with them into The Kitchen restaurant I spotted a few faces and before I knew it I was welcomed into the arms of several people. Hugs, hugs and more hugs everywhere meant my nerves began to subside. I was in the right place, with the right people and so far I hadn’t forgotten anyone’s name. It was early days so the butterflies were still doing a little jig but it wasn’t the madness of a jive or insanity of a mosh pit.
More people arrived, which meant more hugs and more chairs squeezed around the three tables already joined together. And then it happened. As I was moving my chair I accidentally nudged Helen Segal’s arm and she spilt her tea over herself. OMG help me, the butterflies started to head-bang and the panic alarms were going off loudly in my head. I’d messed up and it wasn’t even midday.
Count to ten: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10...
Helen thankfully understood it was a clumsy accident. I felt awful but she gracefully and calmly dried herself off as napkins were handed to her. The chatter resumed with an excited buzz in anticipation of what was to come. I’m grateful that no more incidents did occur that day; I remembered everyone’s names, didn’t fall over or say anything gobble-de-gook (to my knowledge).
The first event was Women Speak starring Victoria Firth and Chiara Berardelli. Two amazing performances that pulled you into their world and their hearts as they shared their stories through comedy and music. There was laughter but there was also a silent understanding in the audience. I tried looking at the ceiling but could not stop the tears rolling down my cheeks.
The second event was Men Speak starring Rod Silvers and Benjamin Zephaniah. Again there was laughter (plenty of laughter) but also moments paused in time when heartstrings were pulled. Men are rarely so open about being childless but their voices were strong as they shared their secrets and spoke honestly from their hearts.
The third event was Fertility Fight Club. Four people speaking openly about a matter that is important to them. Yvonne John started the talks and boy did she start by packing a punch with her words. Blythe Pepino was next sharing a different perspective. Then we had the storm that is Bibi Lynch speaking (as always) straight up without fear of repercussions. Finally Sheridan Voysey added his words of wisdom that gave a positive perspective on our grief.
Then suddenly the day that seemed to have gone on forever was over in a flash. There had been intermissions between the shows and I’d met and talked with some wonderful people for the first time. Someone came and said hello and thanked me for my blogs, which took me back. I don’t write very often and it was heart warming to hear that my words meant something to someone. Perhaps I should write more?
At 7pm I sat down for some food with Berenice Smith, Sarah Lawrence and Sweetie Horne. It was good to have the pace slow down as we chatted about everything we’d seen, everyone we’d met and how we were feeling. I needed that food to fuel me but in relaxing the emotional impact of the day spread through my body. Our energy levels were depleted and at 8.15pm we said our goodbyes and went our separate ways to go home.
I sat at Paddington Station whilst thoughts of the day ran through my head and at last the butterflies were silent. I had to wait a little while for my train and having left my house at 7.30am that morning and not arriving home until 12.30am Sunday morning it had been a long day. I was exhausted both physically and mentally, but would I do it again? Damn right I would; I’m ready to put my comfy shoes back on and face those butterflies again, be it a waltz or pogo!