From the old blog:
From earlier in the year – and I sit on the other side of the mirror, now.
“I’m in the city you hated
My eyes are fallen
Counting the clicks with the living dead
My eyes are red…
Is it weird to be back in the south?
And can they even tell
That the city girl was ever there –
My favourite track, Slipped, from The National’s most recent album, Trouble will Find Me. It sums up all that I have experienced this year – alone, with the fella, at work while waiting for the person on my shoulder to dry their eyes. Sometimes I feel more than myself; in a position far larger than I was hired to. Other times, I feel small enough to be part of the dust that gathers on our decaying windowsills. The Nick is a maligned old girl, a relic of the 60’s; thrown up to quickly accommodate, and just as quickly fall apart. Yours truly can sympathize.
They’ve been good to me lately, my workmates. I couldn’t ask for a better support system, in lieu of blood family in the south. Oh, don’t get me wrong – I still have connections there, still speak to them every now and then, with that fly-by-night fairweather charm, since it’s all my parents can take. I gave them hell in my childhood – wandering off in supermarkets, getting lost in parks; picking up broken glass I’d mistaken for jewels, slicing my fingers wide. Rubies and emeralds, running down my clenched little fists. I found the shiny pile under a slide.
I’m always picking up sharp, shiny objects. Small wonder I get cut.
In my teens and early 20’s, my father became a ghost of pale memories and absent eyes. He’s never been one for emotional items, stuffed in his pockets by other people; he’ll drop them, just as readily as I pick them up (oh God yes, I’m a magpie for feelings – other people’s, not my own. Those, I’d fling in the Thames if possible.)
I still love my Daddio. I miss his dark eyes, which I inherited, and the long lashes to hide behind. He’d whittle small wooden airplanes for me when we lived in Gutersloh, Germany, just outside the RAF base. He worked on the Harrier jet and Chinook helicopter, as a radio/comms engineer.
My mother met him at Cosford, training for signal/comms; she was part of the SeaKing helicopter search ‘n rescue. Their love was cemented by the accidental arrival of my older sister.
I always said she was a show-stealer.
When we were growing up, my sister was the lean and beautiful one. She had popularity in her blonde hair and blue eyes; she knew the lines to say, the shows to watch, the books not to read and the kids to never be seen with. I loved her then; I love her still. But we’re better friends when not in the same room.
When I was 6 years old, she came into the lounge where I quietly played with one of those stick-on/peel-off books – the ones where you can rearrange the scenery. It was a ballet setting, a vast house, where I could contort my dancers as I was already being trained to contort myself, in junior lessons. My sister took the book, with its careful arabesques etc, and threw it up in the air. The choreography fell in a jumble onto the carpet.
I wrestled my sister – 3 years my senior – down, and bit her deeply enough in the back to warrant a long white scar, like shark’s skin. She still has it to this day. We laugh about it now, as we laugh about the time I was practising with darts in our Nanna’s old cafe, and accidentally bounced one off the wall, into her foot. My sister’s, not Nanna’s. I’d probably still be grounded in my bedroom had it been the latter. As it was, a fortnight indoors was enough cooping-up, thank you very much.
Well, until 7.5 months on an inpatient ward. Locked main door. Unlocked bathrooms, with a staff nurse positioned carefully in the ajar space, waiting for the glint of a blade. I couldn’t be arsed to try. Contraband was a bitch to keep hidden from those sprung checks, first thing in the morning, with whittled eyes of staff screwing me to the wall as they patted everything down.
Oh, I love open spaces now, as much as I love cozy dark corners, like bay windows behind long velvet curtains. Prime reading spot, that. Also – in the overlapping branches of a great willow tree, dangling its emerald spearheads to the rippling water. Brown silt turns to gold in the sun – transmutation, under the bowl of sky.
I’m staring at that bowl of sky now, from my window where the great green spread of our tree sends odd shadows over my face. Only my laptop and an (empty) rum glass by my hand, to break up the lines of this room.
I don’t drink to forget; I drink to disappear.
My fictional world beckons, more so these days. I retreat to writing the novel in a bid to scribble over the dull faces and places I somehow still adhere to, here, today, everyday. Going quietly insane, while smiling into the teeth of those who would wonder what a stick-haired, steel-roped lass like myself, is doing in such a swanky city.
I enjoy being an outsider. An abstract among the concrete. It means I can float away while they’re stuck to the ground, with their multifigure mortgages, multifaceted jobs that pay a wadge and don’t let them home until the kids are in bed.
Oh, the kids. Colours and kids. They don’t keep me alive.
When at my sickest, my younger brother did. I owe him, my best friend, confidante and probably the closest thing I’ll ever have to a kindred spirit. He’s basically me, in male form.
Writing’s my savior these days. So if you’ve made it to the end of this rum-hemmed ramble, kudos to you.
Friends keep me smiling. Here’s hoping I can return the favour.