Holiday letter to Jess
By elsie katz
I bought a camera for myself after our holiday. Because it's the images that stand out.
You holding Fifty Shades on the shuttle from plane to airport and the grubby middle-aged man wisecracking true to type about brown paper bags.
Initial greyness. Driving rain that cleared. Watching the arid scrubby bushes on our way to the hotel, trying to build up a picture of Mallorca.
Our hotel, nine balconied floors, a giant boxy re-assuring landmark monolith two blocks back from the seafront.
Marble floors, big mirrors, plants on the landing. Semi-sprinting up to our room on level six, not queuing for the tiny crowded lift. Your legs were faster.
Our room. My side tidy, yours not.
Our balcony with its back view of buildings and plant filled yards. Site of the endless photos you demanded I take for your Facebook. You would hand me your camera whenever the mood took you offering me no choice. Initially I was bored and angry. You had to show the perfect face to your many friends.
From up here the traffic was peaceful. I studied the morning and evening sky guessing the weather. Hanging out our swimwear and towels to dry. My swimsuit, your white bikini.
Our pure white bathroom. Instant roasting water, swathing my body in huge pineapple Body Shop bubbles. I love hotel baths as I have a shower room not a bath, in fact I love hotels, everything about them.
Morning and evening half board buffets. Fresh fruit and unappetising cakes. Lots of hot and cold choices.
The satisfying gargle as I pressed the machine for another frothy, slightly sweet cappucino.
Feeling provided for, looked after.
The beach. it was so much a beach holiday. Shallow water with small shoals of slim grey fish. The wide vista of Alcudia bay. The freedom of sea swimming as if I could swim to eternity.
Lilo-ing. Batting a pink ping-pong ball between our rackets, improving our rally skills, me keeping count; over fifty! You said you bought the racket set so we could do something together.
The pedalo. Sliding down the chute into the sea, toiling to heave ourselves back on board.
Evening beachside treats, cocktails and sharing a banana split. Paella. When we remained in the hotel you chose to read in our room scorning the in-house entertainments but caught a little of Scunthorpe Elvis. He was good!
Shop browsing. Three little stacked absinthe bottles in rainbow sweetshop colours, a present for Jake but you sampled the red one first! Heaving gallonsof bottled water back to the room. Sending postcards in the shape of the island, me hoping the yellow container I had posted them in was a postbox and not a public litter bin.
The day we separated. We boarded the tour bus then your cystitis flared up. I toured with chatty strangers and bought a wallet I didn't need from the leather warehouse. You took a cab back to the hotel and a bottle of Coke to the beach. It exploded, everyone heard the bang and turned round.
Our last day. The waterpark. Jess' last chance to perfect her tan with her bottled bronzing lotions. Walking round cooking yourself for a full timed hour before chuting big slides. I liked the big bumpy one and the unlit twirler best.
One last walk to the timeless Old Town with its large cemetery, Roman ruins and tiny museum. Narrow lane and stately stone terraces with wrought iron gates, a sense of classy 'old money' here. The final snap of you seated on a barrel outside the Tapas Bar.By now I had become used to all your Facebook pouts and poses and enjoyed photographing you in front of the past. You took some of me in my your sister's long red and white horizontal striped beach dress.
The airport. A small row flaring from our impatience in queuing. My fear that it would become your main memory of our first time back together in three years. Good plane food. A warm arrival back in Devon. After your carer collected you from the airport that afternoon I swam in a cooler sea.
The picture I liked best was you in your white bikini grasping a metal hand rail in each hand. Classic holiday snap,a sweet sixteen, good-time sporty girl.
My beautiful daughter Jess
I love you
MUM December 2012