Archives for category: parenting

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Last day of year 7. I’ve been in the garden, in this quiet before the storm. The bamboo has moved in, left to run free, has flourished and beamed its way to fullness. The rain’s overdue, the soil waiting for revival. We have work to do out here.

Last month I approached the first Secondary parents’ evening.
I walked with him through the tumbled leaves and by the steps where he waits with his friends a feather caught and played with the breeze, (my eyes locking it for a moment as I passed.)

And I’d been dreading it all day, this looming evening and I wasn’t quite sure why. Was because of my chance to talk, to meet these people who’ve known him nearly a year, to look into faces who don’t know me and snatch a chat to put it all in context.
I was cold on the inside, familiar management of a hoard of feelings.

And the PTA smiled and welcomed and I couldn’t find his name, couldn’t make sense of an alphabetical list as I searched for his first not his last and it only served to make me feel incompetent as we were sent off with a map and a tick.

And a shift had taken place as though I’m still the parent, he had taken charge, he knew the maze, which stairs to take and I didn’t so followed him dutifully seeing the change. And the more I saw of him and his environment the more I saw his world and the leaps and strides he’s taken because he had to and because he’s our son.

And I was glad, glad to be looked after and escorted by him as with my head and my sight, in the glare and the heat, I’d have lost the plot without him.
And the signs were not quite big enough and the light not bright enough and the corridors swelled with parents half knowing what to do and the doorways were chocked with children, bored, out of uniform on iPods waiting for the imminent praise or fallout.

And I waited with him, beaming and wailing on the inside, smiling and nodding through my practised thin exterior.
And we waiting and hovered with the cattle while he acted up and I let things ride in the busy fug of his rooms.

As eventually we were seated in a heated room around their sweating clamour and I breathed and listened and played my part. My confident handshake disguised my brittle mind as we weaved out of chairs and in between summer clothes to rush to our next slot.

And even now, reviewing this and writing it up later, it’s still surreal. Not quite gettable, not understandable. And we’re still waiting for you after drama lessons near the highly polished floor and you sweep in through the heavy doors with your Saturday morning face. And he’s younger than this, not so lippy and I try to work the vending machine before we pile in the car and go home.

And of course I see it all on the way in, his walk along the wall with smaller shoes but I have to just note it, watch us pass by, and need to keep moving and I do.

And I’m told he has a maths brain and we know it’s not from us. While the science teacher smiled and nodded. We scuttered around too fast to think much, to follow him and his enthusiasm and his animated stories about the rooms that are his world and I nearly lost the plot with Spanish and her warmth and words.
But it wasn’t what I thought, I thought there’d be space and time and I could mention our world and our challenge and they might be surprised and I’d try not to let the emotion out. But it wasn’t like that, it was loud and heaving as huddles of parents sat, hot in waiting and while the plastic chairs heated up I changed my approach of what to say and what to ask.

And it was strange, smiling and conferring and I felt false and shaky because they didn’t know and even if they did know back in September it wasn’t mentioned now. And I wanted to shout and clear the room,
I wanted to be free of this surrounding, rise out of this sweating sea of dads in an assortment of sizes. I wanted to follow you, following our son and feel the pride together as we compared notes with our secondary lives and shook heads at how he’d changed and I wanted to sit there with you and your questions and come out with our words and our ways and drive back to one last chat, feeling the years shift around us. A glimpse of things to come and your eyes looking at him, a teenager in the making, a product of us, a forming of self, seeing you, seeing him and the things I see now.

And by the final teacher who put him on the spot, (which I didn’t like, as you wouldn’t have liked) I had my act sharpened and polished and he wasn’t like the other younger ones, he was like our-day teachers and he waffled and rambled and I smiled knowing how we think and the subject encouraged more questioning, a syllabus geared to the things you talked about and knew about, while I held myself sticky taped together through the fresh aired walk outside.

Back out passed the trees where you used to wait, (grateful for the lift back home) and in that buzzing place, those rooms of words and hurdles, I negotiated this new way, and in the presence of polished up teachers looking at the slick knot of his tie, as he ran through his script, I saw our world and my work now in the way that I got through it, in the feelings that I hold and in our son’s eyes, steely and bright, making the connections in his new way, with our roots and his shoots leaning into the light,

becoming.

Ps. July 23rd
Yesterday he was off with his friend at an activity centre, the one he negotiated last year. And he went to face his challenges. His older face was full of news on his return, as he tumbled over tales and triumphs from the day. He beamed out his rock climbing achievements and explained,
‘It’s strange, you just keep going, looking for the next hand or foot hold, focussed on what’s in front of you and you keep moving up. But it’s only when you look back down you see just how far you’ve come.’ (Indeed).

And now, I’ve got about an hour till his end of year face bursts through the door, from a year of growth and planting. Our little boy, one year down at Secondary, shining out, surrounded by new leaves.

I can smell the rain in the air, I’ve pulled out the bindweed, I study the growth and note where I came in at the start. Photos and photons, light breeding light. I’ll get out gloves ready for later – a thorough job together.
Roots and shoots, as always.

Doing it.
x

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The final Sunday of the tournament always signified the end of school or end of college, it was something to look forward to on all levels.
I’d buy strawberries and sit on the floor and whoop at the sliced shots and groan at the chalk flying high.

My match started in the seventies, Virginia Wade, me on an early green settee and Dad explaining the rules. And I came to understand and follow, grew up to cheer for Agassi, knew too much, remembered too many score lines and summertime hung on the start of July.

But you didn’t do sport, really not your thing. You were designed to sit and watch, apart from the odd thrash at badmington with Al, and the Pitch and Put that put your hip out in the park where we found the pedaloes, when we listed over in the fibre glass swan, as the water came in quicker than you could row.

But tennis was ok, you used to watch it with your Mum in the lounge, with the dog-haired carpet that I grew to love, despite the fluff. So we watched and took sides and bets and negotiated the game around our baby’s bottom, changing nappies when they changed ends. We tried to engage our toddler, knowing the finer points of the game would be lost on a four year old as I learned to follow in fragments, in-between the priorities of our life.

And the final set, with Al, the year before, 8 months before your last shot. When he was round for a Sunday, like normal. And I fiddled with food and half baked and he would stay till the match was over but it was one of those games that pinged back and forth and I can’t even remember who the game was between. It carried on and on and we found more and more food and made more jokes. And they equalised and bedtime came, bath time for our school boy and in the heat of a late Sunday, Al decided to head for home and made it back with a set to spare.

And somebody won and we laughed on the phone while our son went to bed in an endless summer Sunday. An afternoon of daz white, barley waters and fluorescent fluff flying
across in HD. Chantilly cream and Taste the Difference ripe redness bursting round our mouths.

I don’t remember the first summer after, it fuzzed by me in a land belonging to someone else. July was just a word and last year I may have peeped at proceedings but I didn’t stay too long.
And now I’m here and know the day, know who you’d want to win and though I’m busy with our boy, struggling with a playing up PowerPoint, I stop and search my phone. I find iplayer and I drop into our old place. I watch a set and wonder where we are. I’m sucked into the hush of the crowd, the scorch of centre court, the hopes and heat of faces focused until I pull away, leave them to get on with it.

Someone will win, someone will lose, newspapers will extol or attack and everything goes around again.
Patterns in my life. repetition and change, tradition, transition and flux in the whip of aluminium, in the sweat of muscle, in the striving to be the best they can. Knowing when to lob, when to slice, when to dart into the net or hurl everything you have into a green smudged white, a thud-thump streak across the ground as you reach with everything inside you, to make the connection, to fight to win.
Your point, your game, your life.

I sit here, listening out for us in the back of my mind, while we watch them somewhere else, when the only game that mattered was on the screen and we were unaware of the tournament ahead.

My muscles ache from the match.
My skirt is torn and grubby, I need a drink, need to sit and re-group, sweat under a towel for a while and then come back. I need to come out head up, secure in the strength of my muscles, ready to take the next shot, seeing myself doing it, watched over by our younger selves on some distant settee.

I throw the ball up, sunlight sparking off the edge of aluminium, skin shining in the hot photons.

This is the point.
x

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I stepped inside an old place recently, faces I knew from before I carried this and I was startled by their lines, their faces that had aged while I’d been away. And I looked out of myself at them and their uncomfortable smiles and we all did our dances, our little false phrases and retorts and they passed by on their way home, in their world, that I used to know when everything was safe and dependable.

And we carried on in ours, our son laughing, rolling down the bank with his friend, his new good friend who knows us now and I stay outside it all, watching with my face on. And in the places he didn’t see, I saw us all there, the last time, the only other time there, ambling around chatting to friends at car-boots and picking up that book for 60p, the book we took on that holiday, when you watched the world go by – and it did.

And I stood by the tight privet hedge where I’d smiled, last time at the bands and the music, before the women who annoyed me with her ways, flounced by, annoying me with her ways. But now everything annoys me, the view and the people, the little matchstick cliques parading around without this, this solid stone that I lug around me on these events, in-between their chiffon smiles. These lilting light and frilly sun drenched days when the laugh of our son lifts the weight a little and I sit inside my body feeling time and all its nonsense while I look out from within at the job I have to do.
Yesterday in pieces at Summer fair.

Later:
The wasp is outside today, motoring to get in, he sounds loud and insistent but he doesn’t bother me. I focus on the cool air on my foot, last year’s flip-flops hanging on to their form and the carefree gush of water, churning round the rubber, unleashing itself into my teeming pond.

In the sunlight, with layers of time echoed patterns, this symmetry, sitting on my shoulder.

x

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I’m away in the back of a taxi and the foreign radio bleats out some news and we’ve learned the rhythmic qualities of their accents as we travel from Oost to West or was it West to Oost?And I remember a long barren train station, hanging around for the last one back and the mountains that came into view and the snaked hill houses, chaleted rooves on either side and the path waves up and out of the village, away and up to the clearing.

And I remember the photos tucked away somewhere now, with that close up through the trees and later downstairs in the empty wooden restaurant, where the wicker chickens were made just for me and we guessed at the meal and laughed when we were right. And somewhere I have the little wooden carved out frame with the postcard that doesn’t quite fit and I remember the feel of my top and your new watch, the one that got scratched the last Christmas.

And I see us at tables, white cloths and plans and the air was so thin it made you dizzy and we sat somewhere high, by smoked glass, looking at the view and we bundled in cable cars with your proper camera and we got to the top and I screamed.

And I stood up there with you, dazzled by heat and light and the shapes went on forever, peaking to the horizon, in an unreal distant place.

And the camera caught us, young and new, me wrapped up like Greta Garbo and the moment itself, frozen like us, just before I chucked snow.

And I’m surrounded by it all today, as I was then and I flip to the top of Norway with our son in this world and the shapes were familiar but the coordinates had changed and I looked out and down at the path we’d negotiated when we were just at six months. And I tried to hold the pain as I stood there but went back to Zermatt and in the warm coldness, in a high improbable place, I took my brittleness to the souvenir shop, empty fingers fiddling with change.

And it weird. This place, this road, this journey. I have lots to do today, now, in this still low land but I’m flipping through the images, head bouncing to keep up and we sit in the carriage and I hold onto the scene. The colours, white iced down through blues, pined angles rich and deep, to the twisting web of sparkles, the stream by the side of the track, dotted with coloured spots of flowers, juddering on our way. And the window surround is old and chipped, like me now and our backpacks are full, our trainers new but tired, breaking them in as we walked, as we made our way back, then, in that world, with those faces.

And I lie here trying to start the day
but I’m not sure where I am. I feel spread out across it all, this thinly stretched life, rich and brittle, still rattling along.

still travelling.
xxx

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We were in Padstow now, the maze of a cottage with a fire to stoke and ceilings to bang heads on and an old red phone box down the road that I used in the days before mobiles. And you rode the Camel trail when I stayed indoors and wrote in your journal on Easter Sunday, it always seemed to be Easter Sunday and the paper was made of fine quality, with the quotes on each corner and it travelled with us as we moved. Your Mum bought it for you the Christmas before me, I think and I peered through its pages, trying to undo your skrawl in the early days when I sat on the carpet and you were up the wooden stairs. And that holiday took us to places, passing by the sights that became familiar, the scenes that we returned to, the conversations over the harbour with me ducking passed lobster as you fired the snaps of orange. And we hadn’t even reached the contents page, not then, not really.

And after your trip out (when you found the injured bird) we found ourselves in quaint corners and negotiated the cliff walk to Bedruthan. I had the first of the parkas and it whipped around me as I ran and the caves were off to the right, the beach rock scattered in ancient things and the sand a wet squish, a powered pale grain beneath our feet. And my pockets heavy on the walk up the hill, treasure troved with the stones I picked up. The slabs of age that sit in their place, where they’ve lived for years, on the windowsill now absorbing heat in their solid memory, their time crushed permanence, slatey grey in our emphemera. And we clambered up to the tea shop, the perfect out post, white washed and small, battered tin sign creaking a welcome and the teacakes dripped and chipped mugs thawed our fingers in our found shelter at the top of that world.

And I listen to the sounds of this world, our son blowing up sea monsters on the kitchen floor, the wicker basket straining here, the quiet grey clouds hiding the days first sun. I hear him humming, some warfare enfolding and all I can see is the work ahead, the wondering, the easing, the exploration to come and none of it’s made of Lego and all of it has to come out.

And I’m beached today, a great whale carcass, shining rubbered blubber on my shore. I’m still in Cornwall by the pretty boats, the crisp air up our nose, the clank of my netted seashells, the best meal on our last night out and I walk passed us with our family, ten years into the marriage when we all returned. And we followed you by the harbour, holding our son’s hot hand, looking across to the chip shop as our first trip replayed out in parallel. Harbour on the left, walking back and in the distance, we were there, in the remnants of us, in the chip shop, warm and wet, drying out over the white and blue napkins.

And I found the cottage, back then through archaic old brochures. I managed to find a lovely place without fishing the internet and I rang and spoke to owners and took directions with a pen. And those years later we drove by, when my Google search did its job. And scrunched up now, here and estranged, I see us all in the car, laughing and silly, waving to ourselves in the past as we sped by on the trip home. And our car was full of us, our plans and detritus and ways and our son was full of the moment, like he is now, though different.

And at this moment I doubt any of it is real and I need to move from the bed but I’m stuck. I’m stuck in Padstow with the crackle of fire, longer hair and eyes that haven’t seen this world. It always seemed to be Easter Sunday and now it’s me that writes. Our son breaks bows downstairs, some catastrophe on his ocean like your ancient mariner quote on the last holiday. But the albatross was flying straight for me and now I can’t see the waves ahead for the flapping and feathers around me.

I need to let it all settle but at the moment there is no now, only the embryo of who we became, trying to find who we were, in the salt air, in the March sun, passed the stately home wall with the deer on the gate, in that universe, expanding.

Easter Sunday when we were young.

Ps (you rescued the bird).

xxx

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Suddenly I’m in her room, that little narrow room over the gardens. And it looked down the road, over grey houses and all the doors had buzzers and I remember the little conservatory to the side and the place where she sat in the sun.

And the women called Janet who didn’t quite belong, played cards in the corner and we talked to her in those days. The days of waiting and sitting and I tried so hard not to let my feelings show but always failed miserably. And right now through my own window in this false world it all comes back and our son was a few years younger and we bought her the soft toy when the connections started to break.

And I’m sat on her bed, by the pillow while he played on the floor with his pens and we rearranged the photos on the sideboard in the empty competition with your brother.

And right now I have her fog and I’m trying to find my way out of it, swirling it’s fingers around my mind, a steady grip of confusion and I see her and her mothering and her unstable walk and I feel the pressure of her arm, coated in her bright red fleece, on the walks to nowhere near where she used to live. And she leans on my right side and you walk ahead. And I’m thrown by my window, looking out, like she did, surrounded by the things she cherished, held by the warmth and the love.

And she came back so brightly, bringing my old world with her and I see the span of her life, her
mothering, her gifts. And I fragment in the pieces, a cut up mess of memories, trapped in her photos smiling out, her sepia world and mine now. Somehow stuck, indelibly living in that room, living with trinkets of thoughts, permanently who we were, and her hill was nearly a mountain.

And somehow, years from now, I sit somewhere in an old home, looking out over my life, a folded old lady, with layers of silk and moments, surrounded by warmth and love and I see a thread of mothers, through the dust and sunlight.
Ours, creating us, forming who we became and me now here, not old, not just yet, sitting in the light looking out.

My own birth story, my continuation of our family, shining through the debris in my mind. Through these March moments, reconnecting with it’s subtle light, in these days, in these hours that twirl me dizzy.

Different rooms and views.
Universes layering.
Unravelled, in this place,
this thread of mothering.

Ps
A fly revs up behind me, I should look, it could be a wasp. My left knee and arm are warm as the sun creeps round, should be reading, research to do, but my head is lagging out the back the hedge looks black under the brightness of the sky. Feel like I’m in a tardis, secluded from the world in this vast tumbled down place but on the outside I’m still just small, me, a collection of atoms in a current form.
The heat brings out the dust in the day, everything is teeming. I need to do justice to this space, need to work.
The fly, (it was a fly,) tries valiantly against the glass, it’s fat furred body thudding in the light, tiny hairs quivering, protesting at his obstacles. I spot two other flies, quietly looking for answers. In my cell surrounded by prisoners. Sun hot on my shoulder, light framing the clouds.
The buzzing starts to annoy me. I need to do some work.

March 20th
(Showers)
I let the hail pierce my skin it’s white stoned ice cutting the surface. My feet buzz from the cold concrete, my hair plasters down. I try to feel, I seek sensation. I turn into the wind, it bites my face. it’s good. Everything is grey, grey falling, saturating me and the earth. The tiny birds carry themselves to food, hang upside down despite the swinging movement, I’m jealous of their instinct, I crave their animality, their hunt and song as I stand here, calling storms, losing myself in the pain x
The sun comes out, another gun fire takes an unseen rabbit, the ground shines white, water pulled up into steam and my shadow almost blue against the white washed bricks, glaring in the grateful heat. My hair drys out as I tap and in the distance, nearly out of view I see the wind farm for the first time, pure, uncomplicated, turning circles as the clouds pass overhead.

March 21st
The heating is off, my feet are cold, everything is silent, waiting.
I wonder where he is by now, how far along the long road to school, nearly my height, in my morning bare feet, with those eyes and your walk.

Stuff to do on his own walk, things to catch up with, to get down to. He has day two of exams and I don’t feel the weight like I did with SATS. I see him older like me, shifting into a new form, doing what we do now.

Feel strange I suppose, asleep somewhere in this version of being. I should make the most of the space, of this quiet. He’ll be up by the trees now, looking for Jack, his new good friend who knows us now. He has what he needs for today, and tomorrow isn’t relevant yet.

I feel like I’ve docked in a harbour, throbbing and grimy from the journey, covered in barnacles, a sea stained slime of weed. But the harbour is foreign, unfamiliar, though calling me into drop anchor.
I am here, I should pause, though it’s just a port, a resting place between the storms.
He’ll be putting his things in his locker, bubbling and buzzing, a world away from here in this cold room. I wait and view the scenery. Beneath me, the depth of ancient places, darkness slopping up my bows and out there,
hidden trenches crawling in things we can’t see, under the weight of this place.
My sea. Quiet waves, for now.

(and our explorer, out there, charging, steely eyes and cutlass. Doing it.)

x

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Can’t get moving today, have no momentum. I’m here with zero spin like the Higgs particle and I read about it hurling around in Switzerland, teasing the physists with it’s revealed truths. But it appears to still fit into the standard model, nothing new yet, nothing more exotic and it shows them we only understand 4% of our universe.

And I also continue to collide around in here, charging into things, smashing myself into memories, exploring this strange new world, our new civilisation, understanding only fragments of how we still exist.

And I make an attempt at tidying,
up in here, by the old stereo, your old record player from the museum of a life and through the smokey grey Bakelite it says ‘Thorens’ with a flourish, TD160B MK11, apparently. And the stylus has a small triangle on its tiny brushed steel finish. The counterweight sits still, round the back, the softly boxed ‘disc-cleaner’, a furry product of time. And in front of it an old beaten coaster, the image peeling up at the corners, the one with the dappled horse that I bought from the country park, way back in that May when the hayfever tablets worked well.
Our son’s redundant Playmobil lies down, redeployed as a statue, on it’s back fighting no fires, looking sideways to the things I can’t see.
The old cassette tapes in a triptych
underneath, wound slippy brown ribbon, imprinted with days. I need to play them some time soon but not yet. And I look down passed the Lost calendar bought for you before I watched it and the tuner, black crackling brute, that had begun to loose it’s growl, in those months before and the radio over the tape player with its satisfying click clunk of depressed buttons. And the memory of it’s red lights, (5 in from the left) in the time when it lived behind the settee arm, in the other home, in the other world.
And I study these elements carefully
to the background radiation of our son playing with friends, loud, up here and he needed to be careful not to bump it, with it’s delicate old mechanism, fragile but still working, handle it all with care.

And I remember the huge old speakers, the white monsters carved by your Dad and the stories of hoiking them down from the North and up the Southern stairs. They squatted in our bedroom until the move evicted them and they were sold and removed to somewhere else, somehow, in a time before eBay.
But the cupboards that sat in between them still sit, their place in the garage where they took root, in all the new plans of new homes.

And I draw in the dust remembering your music, the compared lists, the groans and distaste, the raised eyebrows and head shaking. Just remembered Go Moog! oh my god, how I laughed and how I wound you up about it and getting the ‘image’ right between the speakers. Hi-Fi, obviously, I really shouldn’t have said stereo…And I remember the jazz and the name choosing for our son and the track you wrote to me about, hundreds of years ago, before txts, without email, in a chat-free, app-free world, when we held a pen and used a stamp and we waited, waited to see what would happen. And I found the track again, somehow, in that week, despite my carnage and played it again on that day.

And I’m back in the old Orion with Meatloaf before the first meal, the creamed out trout and slapstick corn, the meal we never really lived down. And the endless journeys in the Sandbanks days, the naff tunes that came to have their meaning, the ones that always reoccurred and the concept albums from a 70’s teenage room. The disparaging looks at my collection, the what and the why and The Who and how we swapped on Crowded House and became Keane in the closing days of forest trips, in the car, by the lyrics we couldn’t keep up with. And I sourced out some Be bop Deluxe as a joke and moved you into Rufus Wainwright with that song that I haven’t played since.

I’m sat here now with all your vinyl boxed and inaccessible but the names and sounds are pouring and images spinning hard and fast. The Christmas dancing, the corporate meals, the waistcoats and velvet and the old car radio, up loud and personal, shaving off the angles on the roundabouts as we hurtle late at night.

And downstairs, almost camouflaged behind our first pot plant, (the one that survived the years and moves, its glossy veins mapping our growth,) sits your leaning tower of CDs. I rumbled through it in that week back then, stumbling to find what to play, wanting Tom Waits but not knowing where to start. So I replaced them as best I could, in your special order, not alphabetical, (of course not,) too simple. Placed them back in their unique genres, your categories of ‘taste’. Haven’t been near it really but it’s calling, from the old wood, it’s chipped lips, the thin plastic covers, dog eared gatefolds, a frozen picture of movement and verve.

And high up above me, shiny hidden blackness, a toast rack of 45’s, brittle skin and grooves, with Epic signposting, no doubt Sweet, smiling down at me.

I can hear them all, playing over layed, a turned down tumult of you and the Swing, just remembered the Swing and the joy of zoot suits in Malcolm X.
And it’s coming at me with the speed or firing particles, a need to hear some, to spin inside, to crank it out loud and blaring, like I used to, like you used to, when there was dance without restraint and we were younger, we were us, with our collection of collections and the sounds spun out of our old universe, lit by a distant sun.

And I accelerate faster to unknown speeds, pushing the boundaries of what I know, looking for answers
and forming new questions, in these places, in this soundtrack of our life.

Today in the music of our spheres.

xxx

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I wake. My life pours in and I remember, as sleep dribbles then pools out, forming a puddle around me. I lie in it as the morning soaks my skin, I’m still not quite awake as it seeps around me, slow and steady. Nothing rushes these days. It forms great lakes of reality (that word I’m supposed to use) though it’s never felt more irrelevant and the water of my memory gathers like the leak on my kitchen floor.

A few days ago my seemingly ageless machine found the process of time too strong and it whirred and rattled, steadfastly washing our final selection, gently braking at the edges, quietly easing out its contents, glossing over the old chipped floor.

And of course, obviously, it took it’s chance to release itself on the anniversary of the world bursting, the day of my morning horror.
My tumbled chaos of elements then and now and I mopped and squeezed and moved products around, jumbled up boxes of brightly coloured bits, varieties of soap, things that freshen, things that spray, squeaky little aerosols, honeyed unused dusters, super charged nuclear cleaners, random pretty dolly-mixtured pegs, left at the back with the spider carcass, from the days when I used to hang out. And a big box of half soaked cocaine, solid, sodden, clumped up memory of spring fresh families, clinging, smiling at the lush green meadow of their life.

So I busy myself looking productive, as helpful hands heave and strain and poke and tip, as the years of fluff and muck, gush and rumble through the snaking plastic over the threshold and out, a grey stream on our path.

And all the time I try not to let it show, that I’m running through that day in my head, that the immediacy of a wet floor can’t wash out the stains from then, the permanent patterns tattooed into my cortex, playing games around my puddles, coming at me through the dripping towels, the wrinkling fingertips, saturated with the images.

And I know it’s time to look at new machines and how can it matter at all? It’s only white goods, it’s only a noisy hulk in the corner, it’s only the wedding present bought for us by Mum and Dad, bought early when still engaged. When your bargain make do machine ceased to make do and the replacement fought with the water softener in a running battle that seemed to go on for months, (but probably didn’t), and the Hotpoint troop stood his ground, in his overalls, in our kitchen, against the frowns and disbelief of the Solent Water Treatment man. And it was all quite comical, badged tops, product loyalty, clashing points of view when all I wanted was clean knickers, at whatever the cost. And they agreed to differ, by-passes were by-passed and the problem solved with the smooth sleek purchase. And it was shiny and new, options and lights, buttons and panels and it gleamed at us with intelligent care and it worked and it washed and it hummed.

And it sat silently when we honeymooned, saving it’s power for the baby years, the dribbles and sick, the seven shades of stains, heaved and squelched in, in the night, in the dark, between your toes, when you tried to find clean bedding through heavy sleep filled eyes. And toddler fun behind the gate, the wobbly stairgate, caging off the temptation of buttons and sitting on the threadbare carpet next to him, warm full pull-ups, rattling at the bars, laughing ‘woo woo woo’ as it spun, as he learned, as we played, as neurones jumped gaps and he formed and he grew as it whirred.

And I leaned into it, taking my weight, supporting myself as I washed up for the first time, when I could finally get off the bed, when my back and legs tried to work, with my achievement of getting downstairs, loading up the pushchair with our wriggling mass of needs. And you came home to find me by the sink, semi distracted son beside me, aching but proud of wet hands and I was like a ‘proper person’ – almost.

And filling it with school uniform when dinosaur tops were too small, and crawling on the floor passed by it with the trains, in the daily building, the clipped construction of our world, when we’d explored the carriages while he slept before wrapping up the years ahead.

And it chuffed on and we chuffed on through changes and moves and momentum, under the soundtrack, the churning vibration of a place marking time, illustrating entropy. The evidence of life in the mess we create, the stains and creases, the smell of crumpled clothes, the chucked in t-shirts, emblazoned phrased and citied, the souvenir of places, the proof that we were here.

And it turns and heaves and cleans washes away the by products, the old emerged properties and we give it no thought, fill it up and switch it on and it thunders and it circles and it turns the wheel within it, while we dance and creak, twirling passed in life, in our clothes, invisible.

And that phrase has clung to me, through the years, from the first reading, to the last. When I tried it out in seminars before I really understood, to knowing it well now. And I hear it in everything, in my cycles that continue despite me and I hear it as I walk passed our machine, to turn the wheel, make complete revolutions and its wisdom is hard but true.

And I see you steamed up in wet shirts, the tradition pile, the occasional onslaught, while you watched something on the Mayans and I crept into the dark bedroom and tried to quietly but unsuccessfully free the hordes of hangers and bought them to you, jangling like a Victorian gaoler. A heavy torture of keys, clanking and spearing me as I walk and I unleash them to the settee in the familiar sauna of the lounge, in that world, in those places, in that turn of the wheel.

And I’ve been looking at shiny new things, comparing revs and ratings, gleaming factory fresh flashing lights and whistles, as they line up before me, an identity parade of features, all smiling and winking, promising their tricks, shouting their virtues in the confusion of online emporiums.
Can’t decide, can’t think. I’ll come back to it later. I have enough clean clothes for now, but the pile is reducing, steadily marking time. Tick tick tick…

And now, sometime later, more details clicked on, needs considered and decisions made, choices and options all dealt with. Added to basket, all done.
Now all I need to do is arrange to unplug the old one and wait for the new arrival. Our son will enjoy playing in the box and I’ll adapt to new buttons and lights, flashing and glinting at me from the corner, in that space, where that world used to be.

How hard can it be – anticipating a familiar process – after all, it’s just a washing machine…

x

P.s
Playback

I had to go back to the hill yesterday, retraced our steps up to school for a favour.
Wandered through it, swept back in time, through the bashed out undergrowth, matted soil and giants steps. Up to the old castle through my portal on the hill.

Hair blowing in front of me like it used to do. Battered by icy blasts, a strangeness, weird, like someone else’s life. And I feel like a wound down toy, something old, something losing it’s thread, like walking above, detached, through someone else’s body, with her hands that are icy red from blasts, in that bitter gloveless world.

The late day sun shafts across our old houses, Lego creations where someone else used to live but I’m way too early so I wait around the corner. Loitering with no intent, by the fence, looking out above the traffic, blustering in the scene. I prepare myself for whats to come, reducing my time in an old place, amongst new faces and old ones that pretend they don’t know me.

And a few minutes later an old familiar hand insisted we wait for his brother, by the class, not by the gate. And I retraced all the old places, the old rooms, the memories streaming out of the doors, hot and sweaty, whipped up with tales of the day. And past the door from that February, to park by the door from before and back out with a pretend face, swinging bags and chatting while our son was elsewhere, coming home his new way.

And I was lost in a re run, a fractured replay through the anomaly of my life.
And one smiled face, one at the bottom of the hill. The one I remembered, who took the time in the transition, who walked up to me with genuine care, while they all swept by, fascinated by something in the opposite direction. And she said she was sorry and stroked my cheek. And we crossed paths again and I remembered and I suspect she did too.

And I couldn’t get home quick enough, dump off stuff by the door and and it was all there, a loud blaring revision of the way it used to be. But I can’t dwell, can only feel and note and move.

Have to go back out tonight, in my new place, in my new way with the ghosts of who we were filling our home and my head, loud and insistent, a strange overwhelming of sepia rawness.

x

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Feb 6th

I’m trying to feel along this route, the cool silk of my screen, a comfort to fingertips, the swimming in my head the churning thoughts, the impossibility of now, the rise of my chest.

The bay window behind your head, on the right where the carpark peeped out, looking across with our son on his D.S in the days before this phone. And we talked about that trip and the quotes came from nowhere, like our first meal back then and it was what we did, us, in our little game.

and

the wood pidgeon sits, soft and golden high beyond me, napped feathers pushed backwards in the wind, late winter sun warming my side of the bark, a strange ancient light, a green gold sharpening the contrasts, the charcoal etched downstrokes, pushing hard into the landscape.
A sycamore spore shakes against my window, caught in an unseen thread, the sticky insistent parenting of a hidden spider weaving. Pushing out fine gloop to harness food, to feed her belly, fat and swollen, fierce nature driven need to survive, to suck on flies for nutrients till the babies take over her role. And in the web of now the sycamore flutters an absent dance, buffered by the eddies, pinned against the glass, trembling, going with it, with no resistance.

Beyond it, puffs of thinly stretched white, slow moving fluff over a summer blue sky and the wood pidgeon calls out, familiar rhythms breaking through my thoughts, sun’s gone in. I sense how cold it is really, in this dip, this hollow where my home sits, in the winter brittleness.
Down here amongst the leaves, the brown blown detritus of another year. Standing here, spun tight in memories, incapable of movement, caught in the stickiness of now, a cocoon of moments, an essential thread woven around me, tracing me back to then and now. Here and there, in one breath. Looking out, feeling, being, in this moment with awareness.

Feb 8th

I’m varying. Teetering between still nothingness and wide gashed freshness.
I want to walk, go back to my bench, but I don’t want to see anyone, don’t want the faces, the familiarity of that earlier part of the journey, but it’s pulling me.

I can’t get my head away from then, that walk, that morning, that etched in normalness, just a walk up to school with our son and I dropped him at the agreed spot and watched the sun come up over his left shoulder, gently framing his shiny black nylon coat. And I can see myself watching him as he faded down the path and I turn and crawl away, a slow walk back and I remember our years and our world and I feel the changes, the movement of time the undeniable shifting of life. And I hold it and note it down at home, while you worked and I had a day off and I wrote in the small decorated book I’d bought, a final birthday present on the day we went out for that meal and ate at ‘the geography teacher’s place’, you know the one.
And it’s mine, the image, the moment, but it belongs to someone else, to her, who I used to be, in the remaining days before and from this perspective I see it all, their roads, their steps, their momentum that brings us to now.

And school starts somewhere else today, the sun is behind him, his bag is heavier but he’s growing stronger to carry it. While I sit here watching the pidgeon watching me, watching and knowing and seeing it all inch towards us.

Now as then
This pain
This love
xxx

Feb 9th

Confused, feel I’m tiptoeing through my life, through the old world, creaked and stained with age. I see her, who I used to be, hurrying to school, parka and jobs, stuff going on and she seems so much younger somehow, younger than the physical product of time, an earlier age, lighter in essence, in knowing. And she rushes and picks up our son, and somehow she belongs to somewhere else, to a faded past place, to a time before the place I inhabit now and I recognise her, I know her well, her ways, her faults, her gifts. But she’s not me, not me now. There are similarities, reminiscent looks but we split in the fragments back then. I try to think what I’d say to her, how to shape my words. I feel like her older sister, a wisdom heavy with life and I look down to her through the years in our home, through the stillness of now, through the dust particles that move unseen like me. And I can’t reach her, not fully, can only brush fingertips past her, move close and around but I can’t get eye contact, can’t sit with her and tell her what’s ahead and if I could she wouldn’t feel it, couldn’t know until she had to know and she wouldn’t understand me, not really, in her younger loss less days.

It’s a strange place, home inside a home, a Russian doll of memories, watching us let it play out, our scenes and retakes, our mistakes and triumphs and all the players knowing the parts so well, incapable of any other role. And my home is stuffed with us all, waiting for our son to return, from his new friend’s house, a new friend in our new world, who knows our story, who’s family see us as we are now, who only know this me, the one I have become, leaning up the oven, tapping on my phone, listening to the heating, waiting.

Waiting.

As the old me gets on with her evening, normal routine, normal life as the clocks ticks down and away and she is unaware, unaware of herself as the younger women, the women I used to be, who I look at now through older eyes.

Feb 10th

I’m in a tiny space, microscopic, quantum sized, dense packed matter with the force of a black hole and in my quark which I inhabit, the space fills the universe, expands beyond knowledge and physical dimensions.

I am crushed in the vastness. A speck of dust with infinite proportions and this is where I sit, in my head, in this moment, a riot of image, a paradox of being, a singularity of feelings and I breathe and I exist and I am.

Feb 14th

The warm shape of sunlight creeps up the saucepan handle, it’s edge a deeper hue, washed out ochre on the long side. Tap drips. Speck of white on the rim of my glass. Reading the whiteness, my brain making sense of the light bouncing in on my retina. A distant constant buzz somewhere, heating? head? can’t tell, it’s high pitched and draws me in to focus on its note. A definite aeroplane elsewhere, it’s quiet, sun drops behind a cloud, boiler kicks into action, sun out again.

The light through the blinds has moved or is it just the world spinning, the handle is static, my elbow, cool on the working surface, the water, still, a full bowl, surface tension pushing at the edge. Reflected plant, dark green ovals coloured by the loud blue of the bowl. The plant that was bought for me in that week back then, that’s survived through my lack of watering, that’s rallied to the occasional turn, that converted light to this bent growth. It’s leggy now, needs care, needs re potting, needs nutrient rich soil, black and musty, oozing with goodness. For now it leans up the blind for support, it’s tiny pot illustrating the evidence of time. Tap drips. The stainless steel defies it’s name, patches and splots of entropy, showing up the dullness in this unforgiving light.
And by the windowsill, the broken glass waits for me to move it, the glass with the drink name on it, bought that last Christmas. I study it’s seared edge, rough to a point but not dangerous, the shiny thinness a mirrored line, glinting, hard and glossy, catching the sun where it broke. I see us unwrapping in our old familiar ways, running through our lines like we did when we didn’t know this place.

Tap drips. I replace the fragment, it scratches down the side of it’s remaining piece, the sun glares at me, burning hydrogen at a distance I can’t comprehend.
I shove my hair behind my ear,
It’s the day before tomorrow (again).

x

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Jan 29th (Waiting)

Woke in a different reality.
Sat for a while, wrapped in parka, watching the lights play with raindrops on the screen, moving in swathes of colour, speckled shoals sparkling across the day, an absent cast of diamonds.

I stare out through air, through glass, through the collected water. The headlights spraying towards us, the fractured shapes breaking into the morning, the blurring trees, encased from elements, called to go back outside.

Stuffed at the moment, don’t know whether to run or stay, to walk or hide. The light from my screen makes everything else darker around me, I tap in the glow but want greyscale. I have jobs that need doing. But I’m comfortably slumped, huddled on the settee, the spell check says ‘seethe’ but I don’t. It’s not that sort of feeling, it’s flatter, thinner, heavy grey not red.

How long am I staying here? Want to sleep, want to move, want to drink, want to stay, want to go, want to stop.
Need to write, need to read, need to move, need to drink but I’m warm and tired, wrapped in coat and tissues.

The clock still ticks pointlessly, the heating churns for no-one, the jobs wait, the trees broken vein the sky.
Winter calls me out there, I can’t be bothered.

I can’t be.

Still here.
x

Jan 25th (Cages)

It’s mine, the lack of time, the sense of disbelief, the thudding head, the ache under ribs, the slight pain in chest, the ball curled empty comfort under covers. The sense of pushing at my outside edge, the permanent running tape, the tension between consume and reduce, a sense of wanting to get sucked in fully, deeply, feel the metal box around me and a paradoxed comfort of slate bashing, that I can’t escape and wanting to feel the sides of it’s walls.

And then it flys out and up and I know what I need to do and this is what I have, all I have and it’s mine and I can shape it, run with it, do what I can, when I can, for as long as I can, until.

And I see it and I feel it and I see myself tapping through it, looking out of myself, the whole time, looking out of myself and I don’t want to lose that that sense of being in something, in me, in this shell and that’s how it is.

The spaces and the pieces, the gaps and matter, the madness that belongs to me, that’s mine, right here, right now and I almost step out of it for a fragment of time, then snap back hard and flat.

This tension at the soul, this bizarre sense of almost being here.

Snow hasn’t quite melted, cold earth showing through now, be easier to walk on for a while.

x

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