The air is once more balmy and still, with a daffodil-silk sheen over the clouds passing so high above – little cirrus, carrying the sun on its longer journey to the horizon. I wish it well, wish to follow its road, for that long line of blue and gold beckons once more. I feared the morning would bring a frost, and Mr Nick Cave, you were right. You were right.
Things can never again be the same, and the knowledge of this is as ice riming my bones – Winter’s last grasp. I wander the City and see my shadow flung out before me, long and lean and alone, while the crowds push in as never before – cloying and relentless, with that explosion of child-energy unique to winter’s aftermath. I watch them … there’s that bullet-hole again, gaping in my chest.
Shake my head and walk on. What is, must be. I saw it all coming anyway.
I’ve slept less than I have drunk, but still the dreams arrive – sketched in stark graphite lines so real, they laugh in the face of rationality. I could be six years old again, perched on the edge of my bed with arms outspread, leaping out into the air –
Falling to the carpet, rolling in a ball of disappointment, for flight was a once-was dream born from the night before, fragmenting to feathers, to dust. Picking myself up, I strolled downstairs to watch Saturday morning TV.
It’s never quite so simple in adulthood, is it.
Then, there was glorious gold light in the window, and the green arrowhead leaves; the feeling of things newly made. The way that childhood always seems, like a bubble’s surface, brandishing its multiple versions of the world in so many slippery colours. I’d had one of my first vivid dreams, and was bursting with the excitement of it all; the wingless flight, and of being chased by sky pirates, arcing low over a great lake with a waterfall and rainbow behind. Staring down at my blurred-minnow reflection, I’d found my adult face. Not so very different to how I look now, except my hair was as light as it was then, all coils of gold-brown flooding down my back and usually so full of twigs and knots that my poor mother broke the teeth of combs.
These dreams are full of beloved locations, warped to a degree of sub-reality that their shadows are thickened and full of strange eyes, the light awkward and feral by turns, as though it doesn’t know what to do with itself; or places I have never felt the wind of, the rain beating its tattoo on my face, or the sun its golden claws – but I know them still, somehow. The post Forest Painting, is but one example. The redrock canyon is another.
I would fly and fight, wander, and search for something that caused my chest to ache. Still haven’t found it, whatever I’m looking for. Aren’t we always seeking something or another, though? Don’t we peer into the faces of strangers on the street, in the hope that they might be The One, or the Answer to a pertinent problem; or perhaps it is Death we sometimes seek, as a welcome release.
I have felt his presence again lately, in the apricot-syrup smell of the elderly people who pass me with creaking smiles and bones; the knowledge of slow decay is something that never leaves, once you’ve felt it touch your own skin. I can almost feel the chill in their fingertips, even as that new golden sun pours down.
It is said that what doesn’t break you, only makes you stronger. As a follower on Twitter pointed out to me the other day, even the strongest can break; to which I replied that while this is a truth, the strongest of us will reset ourselves (while walking on what’s left of our souls; we carefully pluck out each shining shard from the pads of our feet, glueing them back together.)
Those that do r (sic) never the same, whole or sane ever again.
@chimeran_dragon, I do acknowledge this too, and have no ready answer; other than that given by the Last Unicorn of Peter S Beagle’s novel, when she told the magician (who for a time made her mortal) – I will go back to my forest too, but I do not know if I will live contentedly there, or anywhere. I have been mortal, and some part of me is mortal yet. I am full of tears and hunger and the fear of death, though I cannot weep, and I want nothing, and I cannot die. I am not like the others now, for no unicorn was ever born who could regret, but I do. I regret. (pg 166.)
I do not feel regret as such, for what I know. Rather, it is the weight of all these stones in my mouth; and the worst knowledge of all, that my proud standard – Alone but not Lonely – has dipped. I cannot hold it so high over my head anymore, and can no longer look with such an indifferent eye on all those thronging crowds of contentment. The park is green and gold again, the lake slowly taking itself back into its boundaries; the floods reside, and I too must retreat back up into my eyrie heart, if only for sanctuary.
How I know that feeling, quicksilver behind the eyes, where pale numbness was before. There is no going back. I could replay the game, but the rules have slipped from between my fingers and lie far behind, scattered on the burnt-out grass, and we are all grown and gone away. That game is no more, the cat’s smile, the danse macabre. I miss it already.
When you learn more of the world (or think you have) it becomes all that more intriguing, like a puzzle that draws you back at midnight with aching eyes. There is this newfound fear of what I might leave behind, to fester in the hearts of those who would give a damn, if I might run ragged with an ego for a moment.
My landlady has suffered enough, in particular.
Oh my friends and my foes, the future is once again uncertain, but I welcome it; with the curious apathy-enthusiasm of one who has nothing left to lose.
These days, I don’t dream often but I dream true, with the raven wings of portent. I won’t try to offer an explanation, since I don’t really know where they come from. Nothing is ever set in stone unless carven on our gravestones, and so to wake is to gasp with choking fear and fall back, full of black light, silver sweat, sometimes tears; knowing that I am still alive but dead in that other time. It will take a few surreptitious checks of my phone, dotting across Twitter and suchlike while lying in the dark with steadying breath and chilled skin, to put things right again. Equilibrium is found in smiling over thoughts of my friends.
Last week, it was of a train wreck. I had been put in charge of something important, an express on a direct route, but somehow managed to become distracted and lost control. The resultant crash saw damage and disrepute to my employers, rather than death, and I fled, through the bramble-haven of my old stomping grounds in the Clay Pits of the southern town where I once lived. Indeed, there are little tracks down there, though only for a small locomotive to haul the raw clay up to the factories, while bringing back tools to the pit.
Cowering under those familiar brambles, it felt good to have their black nails tearing my skin; to stare up through the fretwork, while I bled out tears and fear of the consequences for my actions. I am very good at running from responsibility; but still, when an old school friend turned up and coaxed me out, told me to face up to my faults, I did so with the weariness of one who is tired of running away. I don’t remember the outcome, but punishment seemed inevitable, for my actions had been summoned from negligence.
So it goes. I started awake, knowing damn fine what the message was, and drenched in that cold sweat called Inevitability. My mind was full of that nimbus-doubt, and as the day wore on and I chattered away in an effort to distract myself, the silence was heavy as the iron-air felt just before the storm clears its throat to announce its presence.
The nimbus overtook at last, and I fell silent.
Those of us who reform ourselves after being shattered by the teachers Love and Pain, are forever changed – and this is no bad thing, for we learn where our fracture lines are, and will be more wary in future as to where and when we lay ourselves down to rest.
I’ve always needed some obsession or another, to keep this hive-mind sane and distracted from what would try to break it. Once engaged in something less destructive than anorexia, it is free to run wild with ideas, linking one thought to another, with whatever writing this may entail thereafter. A wondrous freedom in itself, as I’ve mentioned before. Sometimes, the mental activity actually alarms me, and I cannot keep up – such racing thoughts, and I don’t sleep for hours.
Friday, I left work early just to close these burning eyes and let darkness fold in. Here, the pain creeps up on taloned feet, waiting to tear out my heart with a Harpy’s beak. I had stood before my locker, staring at each photo accumulated over the years of work, wondering where it could be that my life is going, has gone. All that I have collected and lost to the past 12 months. Home, cat, partner, money, job security, love, and yes – some sanity. I felt frayed to the edge of my being, and putting my head down, let tears drip onto the floor. I am not ashamed to admit this to you all, for no one should fear to cry; and I ask for neither your pity nor empathy. This is just my truth (tell me yours) –
Rather, it was the thought that my creed of solitary walking should fail me in the vital moment of dark thoughts. It leaves a soul feeling diminished, and I huddled at the back of my mind, whimpering like a child at my own weakness.
Then shook the tears off, drank coffee with a black heart, and walked out, to crash in the cool shadows of my room; pulling the blinds down to set a limbo of blue shadows, wherein that soft Spring light couldn’t enter (for all that it’s a welcome friend, with cherry blossom hearts on its sleeve.) I slept four hours straight, and woke with a steady mind once more. Rubbed my cheeks, and laughed at my reflection, with its hair standing on end. Amazing, what a bit of spatchka can do. The darkness rolled back, and I opened the blinds.
Spring, you bring me a strange, jagged hope again, as you always do with the benevolent sun – chasing out the Winter of pathos, unfreezing the City and allowing petrol rainbows to flow down the gutter once more (such toxic beauty.) To kill pain, ambition wins out.
Education sustains me; it keeps this hive-mind distracted from what would otherwise drag it down. Ever a late-bloomer, I’ve thrown myself into studying EU politics, which have always held my interest but were far beyond my understanding (like so much else, when anorexia clawed my mind.) Now I can read and grasp facts again – linking this to that, watching those in authority for the cues, learning to form my own opinions. It is agonizingly slow, but still, I try. For better or worse, I have a deep-seated need
to meddle in the affairs of others to make changes in the world as well as myself; and since Europe/the EU is in dire need of a shake-up, I figured this to be a good place to cut my teeth. We shall see. Nothing is certain, and I stand at the crossroads we all come to at some point, feeling the wind at my cheek and wondering at its course.
Maybe the Stadtpark in Gutersloh will accept my wandering feet again, as the good rich soil and sunbaked sandstone paving once did when I was four years old, wandering off out of our back garden. It took my frantic parents about two hours to track me down. I wish I could say that this was the only occurrence.
It’s for this reason, among others, that it’s best I cannot breed. What a nightmare to inflict on the world!
I tread the line between honesty and integrity. As my dear friend @Ravnah has said, “There is no point posting anything at all, if it can’t be what it yearns, its authentic self.” That’s as may be, and a truth I would gladly raise with my standard, but to do so would of course bring about what the dreams have thrown at me lately. It is always the same story, the same scenario – my mind loud, and tongue silent.
Here is another truth, dear friends, and it is the bitterest thorn of all; for I am dark in soul tonight, for all this distracting hope. Here are my hateful words –
I would rather be numb, than have to go through this charade again, of lacklustre sleep and alcohol, trying to drown out the memories and thoughts which want to eat me alive. I would like to be the one with holes in my pockets, just like my dear father, so as to drop all emotions out in passing, to scar this sorry Earth. And most of all –
I would like to walk on ahead for once, and not be the one left behind.
I looked upon the face of my adversary and felt my heart soften. Undone; another inevitability. There is grace in silence.
As writers, we accept the consequences of our minds and our solitude. I am tired, and too proud, and as Leonard Cohen once said, wearing rags and feathers from Salvation Army counters.
Still carrying a blue rose in my fist, petals and thorns.