Saturday, August 29, 2009

Brunswick Festival

It's warm but blustery today, the kind of day I sit on the beach, but end up shivering. I woke at an ungodly hour this morning, to a small child patting my face and demanding Big Barn Farm videos. In the main, I’ve enjoyed waking up too early these last few weeks – it’s at these times I sometimes catch a whiff of inspiration that makes me crawl to my desk and write.
     It's unbelievable to me that it's over four months now since Mum died. I always feel strange writing or saying 'Mum died' because that sounds so definite, so clear, so exacting. Of course it wasn't like that - pieces of her went missing every day. I'd set off searching for them with my torch and magnifying glass, but always came home empty handed. In the end, there was only a thin breath left, the warmth of her arm and a frightened look in her eye. She was a scared rabbit in the headlights of a car that never came.
     Until four months ago. Most of the time I make myself forget. After all, amnesia is anaesthetic. But there are always moments when memory seeps through like an ugly stain beneath my newly painted wall. I searched for beauty and love in the situation, even after the end, to keep myself sane. And there it was, like one of Rilke's angels rising out of the blackness. But the ugliness, well, it's chiselled into my bones now like some kind of code, and no matter how I try to deny it, it's a part of who I am.

It shows itself in the most ordinary moments. I passed a woman in a wheelchair at the Brunswick Square Festival the other day - middle-aged, but looking much older. I noticed her limp, paralysed hand, the other making a fist around a Mr Whippy cornet. Sun scorched the grass. The woman had accidentally smeared ice cream all around her mouth and on the end of her nose. She looked like a ghoulish clown, a three year old going on a hundred. She was probably only fifty. Her weary husband pushing the wheelchair couldn't see her face.
     All around people laughed with each other, dragging toddlers by the hand, sipping warm beer in the sunshine. The sight made me want to throw up. It made me want to cradle her husband in my arms. To lie down in front of them and ask them to run me over. Ridiculous, I know, but in flash, it was all there. Standing in that square, I was ridiculous and out of place, and so were they. For a few seconds, I loved them.
     I think I seek out situations and people that make it okay to feel such irrational things; that will lift the skin from my body so I might run a finger along the white bones underneath. Perhaps this, for me, is consolation.
     I'm never quite sure what I want out of life, if it's what I think I want. To be honest, right now I'd be happy just to put on this old Lou Reed record and let the words drain out of me until there are no more.

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