Ever since I was little, I’ve always been able to tell when uncle Mick is in town by the way mum’s eyes pinch up at the corners. Her usually bright, carefree smile gets an odd strained look, as though she’s carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders but doesn’t you to know it. Mick is family, and mum would never do anything to hurt family, even if they hurt her, and Mick has always known his presence hurts her. Not hurt, exactly, but strains her. Brings her back to a different time when she was a very different person.
From what I understand of Mick, he didn’t really do very much for a very long time. He used to be around town a lot more those days, leeching off mum’s hospitality even though there was never really enough to spare when we were two. He was a bit of a drifter, I’ve gathered. He fell in and out of a range of different things, but never stuck at one long enough to build up any real skill in it. These days, instead of ripped jeans that hung over his muddied runners, Mick is usually in semi-formal attire. He works in an office now, one of the up-and-comers of the south east suburb conveyancing scene. He’s got his life together, mum says. He’s finally living up to what her parents saw as his potential and making something real and concrete out of himself. Of course, he’s still something of a junior where he works. With all the right degrees and qualifications under his belt, he’s relegated to the property transfers side of operations, or so mum tells me in our preparatory dinner before the showdown of Mick’s next visit. Not to worry though, she says. A bright young man like Mick is sure to rise high.
But I know Mick and I’ve had this conversation before. I just wish mum could see the world as I do.