I started going to his New Year’s Eve concerts years ago. It was just me in the beginning. No, not just me as the entire audience but me as in before marriage and kids. Before Emma and June existed and called my best friend Uncle Tea because they couldn’t pronounce his name when they were tiny and also because Uncle Tea always drank tea. Kids can be very literal like that sometimes.
In retrospect, everything happened so fast. Here we are 10 years later and I still can’t wrap my head around it. 10 years passed in the blink of an eye, the thought hits me while we sit through another New Year’s Eve concert. I know there was a time where I couldn’t imagine my life changing like this, full of domesticity. Not even being able to imagine wanting kids. Opinions change though just like people change.
The other people in this church are old or older; lines run across their faces framed by grey hair, listening intently. Even now, that I’m older, Mara and me are still amongst the youngest people in the audience. Every year though I get closer to the ‘old’ people in the audience even though I still feel like the 16 year-old girl who met Tea in school.
I can’t help but think how Tea was the first person I told. He was always the first one I told anything to, not just that I was gay. I even practiced proposing on him because I was a bubbling mess about the whole ordeal even though I knew I wanted nothing more than to marry Mara. He managed to calm me down, like he always did. He’s like my brother and his whole family feels like my own. Tea’s mother is always happy to have us over. I think, she’s still a bit mad at Tea for not having given her any grandkids just yet. But then again, June and Emma became a member of her family as easily as I did when I was a teenager.
I glance to my left where Mara is sitting, holding my left hand in both of hers, absentmindedly stroking my knuckles with her thumb. She doesn’t even notice me looking at her of which I’m glad because sometimes, I can’t fathom how lucky I am and when she catches me looking at her like a sap, she just rolls her eyes at me playfully. June and Emma are on my right so they get an unobstructed view of their uncle. I plant a light kiss on Emma’s curly head of hair because she is closest and she doesn’t even register it. Maybe it’s because they were so used to the classical music from even before they were born but sitting in concert like this is the most natural thing to them even if it means sitting still for 2 hours; something they have a hard time doing under normal circumstances. There aren’t a lot of kids in the church at this shindig but I’m glad Tea had that kind of influence on them. He gave June her first piano lesson when she could barely sit still and every time he comes over to our house, she demands him teaching her something new even though she has regular piano lessons at the local music school. Her Uncle Tea is still her favourite teacher and he loves the interaction.
Once the concert is finished, June and Emma dash forward toward their uncle who knees down and opens his arms waiting for them to hit him full force and you can see a big smile come across his features. Emma is first, as she is the oldest and fastest but June isn’t far behind and they laugh and giggle as their uncle envelopes them in a tight embrace. It’s scenes like this that make my heart melt and remind me how lucky I am as I wrap my arm around Mara’s waist and hold her close.