Archives for posts with tag: anniversary

April 16th

It was bitter in Paris, the wind sliced across our faces like a knife but it was Easter, an adventure, of sorts and everything was giddy, new.  

I’d stared through the window watching the propeller on my first ever flight, as though I alone kept the plane in the air, as though sitting by my fiancé and opposite the air hostess, my only job was to control the wings. 

It was twenty-one years ago, our second holiday and it sparkled and danced like the lights across the Seine. 

Despite trawling around Tourist Information Centres on a heaving Easter weekend, we were ok. Despite our desperation for an upgrade from the dilapidated B&B and the hauling of our luggage down the rues and boulevards to the new one that we found, we were still fine. And ushered to a cramped room by a spherical hotelier who beamed and pointed to the spiral stairs to breakfast, we settled in. Carefree with croissants and we unpacked.

We ticked off attractions like you do when you’re invincible and the icy wind didn’t bother us. It took pieces out of us thoughas we crossed the square to Notre Dame and battered us as we stood with everyone else, waiting for the warmth of her arms.

And we shuffled and we inched. In the darkness and smell of ancient wood I lost myself. I remembered the floor in that sacred silence, the air that hummed and buzzed with rustling tourists, I remembered the thick smell of dust and sweat and little more. Wrapped up in Our Lady I was taken ill, I was helped to sit down somewhere away from the crowds and I saw feet, lots of them, the shoes of my fiancé and those of a strange woman whose name we never knew. 

And this morning while ash settles in the streets there, while people lift up their eyes to view the savage route of flames, I think of the lady who came to help usAnd she’s a memory of a warm patterned skirt, oranges, yellows and browns, swirls and circles like flames around her feet. She sat while I regained myself, called us a taxi and stayed with us until it came. I never saw her face but had a sense of her on my left, she wished us well for our marriage, blessed us with healthy children and was gone. 

And I think of our lady today, I wonder where she is in this moment, if she thinks of Notre Dame and the couple who she helped years ago. Does she remember the young women, who only saw the stone floor of the Cathedral but who is tied to it now, somehow. There in Paris, in the coldest of Easters, the ancient monument became a gatekeeper to their life.

The light falls over the place where the Spire had been, and deep inside there is the echo of a woman sitting. And she will be rebuilt and carry on. 

Post Script

April 17th

We married one year later and as I wake to thick fog, it engulfs my town, my road, my mind, like the smoke engulfed the Spire and I am tumbling down into the structure, cascading in the edifice, sparks and flames mix with blossom, with confetti. They float around me, glorious, transient, burning up in the atmosphere of the day, in the flickerings, the fleeting gasps of time.

Twenty springs have passed, twenty bursts of blossom and it is full now, resplendent, magnificent. It swishes around in my peripheral vision like swathes of ivory taffeta, like a girl. And it will age, fall and flutter to the ground, to become part of the soil that feeds the tree. Until next year and she will be back to bloom again.

Time itself, our companion on the journey, folded into Parisian rubble and the strength to rebuild, striving, resilient, fragrant with hope.

Always – in the memory of blossom. 

xxx

 

 

 

I watch a bird move and its serendipity, of sorts. I watch it fly through the trees I can’t reach and clouds I’d rather clamber on, but I cannot. I am still again.

And when I got up in the night, in the thick blackness of four o’clock, I heard a bird. In the night that almost dreamt of morning, I heard a bird. It chirruped through my open bathroom window in the black. I couldn’t listen. How removed it seemed from any sensibilities, how it almost ridiculed me, to be singing in the night. To find joy without the dawn but still it sang.

It sang from instinct, I imagine, from an inbuilt urge to fly. And wings that beat need food and food comes with the dawn. Daylight will come soon. It had certainty, it knew and I know too, although I couldn’t sing then. I had no wings at four in the morning, no sense of movement and little now.

Still the night has shifted since, gone elsewhere and here after the suns heat has bled fierce into the clouds, the day has settled. Soft grey bandages and streaks of silver sit in silent observation. A bird cuts through, driven, focussed and I go around again. Round and around and around again. Still and movement, still and movement, like the wheels pushed by pedals that pass my window now, like the heartbeat of the bird who craves the food. Relentless on, on, on then stopping, resting like the plants that sleep outside.

My garden is quiet, like me, tattered by winter and time. Leaves rest late in their stumbled piles where I had brushed them. They mulch down to such a haven, a treasure to rustle and poke about with eager beaks and I will watch.

Still garden. Silent tired and waiting. Some things pop up, new shoots, pale green with its energy dormant like mine and I can see them. Amongst the weeds and things push up, there are moments, flashes of the garden I used to know. Branches clamber round me, hold me steady as I sway and thorns pierce deep, bloodletting in winter, onto my soil, into my earth, like it has always been. I watch the cuts, they scratch across my arms, white in the cold, thin in the winds and lines draw red. And here’s my garden, concrete waiting, collecting moss and here’s my pond that will burble and thrive. 

But not now. Now it is February, now it holds me as I wait, tiptoeing through weeds and old growth, roots that twist back up through earth. This is my land now. I tend the old plants, prune them, hold and study them in my hand. How familiar they are, yet how startling. So brittle, yet strong in my gaze.

And my hands will feed them, tend to their growth spurts when they come and they will, and they do. Tangled weavings all around me, bracken and thickets of spikes, tendrils that pull onto my legs and I flump down. I find more thorns, they cut into me and I watch in the cold as bright blood forms small spheres on white skin. I pat the wound and smear out red, then clean it well. The air stings across the open flesh but I’m used to tending to the pain. I dab it dry, look after it and bandage it safe till next time.   

I sit in my garden now, cold stillness of winter, bulbs nestling in the darkness, full of verveI water the old things  I serve them well. Shoots bob up, green spears through the black hume, it won’t be long. And it is February, I’m still, I’m winter but spring will come again and I will grow. For others it’s only February but for me, I turn to stone.

xxx

 

April 13th

I do love a quiet cafe, and here near the river it seems to have been constructed just for me. I was here six months ago with friends and I sat and sipped while wearing my cap and gown and the whole town seemed to know I’d just graduated and it was a day when I was full and filled the streets.

Today I am smaller though, today I’m head down, writing and I consider whether to walk near the river on my way home.

I’m on the corner of my town, near the oldest part and it’s my history that floods this place now. If I come out and turn right I’ll pass the Bridal shop. Of course, progress had swept in and now there’s no smell of taffeta, no swishing or sighs but a Bath Store. Those rooms I stood in, pinned and poised, nipped in at the waist, when I still had one, are now full of taps and waterfall showers, bespoke mirrors reflecting back the streets I used to know.

I’ve been drawn here today and it feels right. I’ve been swamped by old objects in recent weeks, buried under the weight of things that have flown. My home smells of dust, not just mine but fluff-coated trinkets from my Auntie’s house, her eighty-four piece dinner set is hiding in my cloakroom until I can find it a good home. And it’s the dust of her life and her choices that bring me near to the river now.

This cafe will close up soon so I need to move and that’s the point, it all seems to be about movement or the lack of it, about the flow and the essential swell of time.

And now I’ve made it to the riverside, to its rush and Ollie, a whipped up cocker-poodle gambols and charges around its owner’s legs, it’s wet and tousled, beyond free. I can hear the traffic, the roads being pummelled by rush hour wheels but I am soothed by the nylon poncho wearers with terriers, by toddlers at the end of holidays with scooters out for one last blast of fresh air.

The river isn’t bothered by anyone, the river finds its way despite the people and their problems. It churns, its wisdom far greater than my own.

And how quiet it is here, how I see people escaping, push chairs and new prams, pink babies lulled by the lapping and a booted up mother, smart blue coat and take away coffee in hand, strides by and she’s out. Her baby’s wrapped up warm and I feel myself unravel, here at the edge of the town I belong in, here with my head full of Auntie’s house of hoardings and my own stuff.

The river is good. It flips up plumes of white and despite its greyness, despite its thick green twisting form, it seems content.

The toddler in bike helmet and stabilisers trundles back the other way, releasing an end of day fractious cry and smart office workers, tired of the meeting room, take in the late afternoon air.

It’s busier for a moment, more people sneaking into my world but I’m cosseted, brushed by the river in my stillness and I move with its form.

I walk along in pace with it as though on a ship, as though wandering along the promenade deck of my boat. I look for fish, I anticipate their colours but I see none. The microscopic life is beyond my vision but I know it’s there, chundering, plummeting and pummelling, carried by the force.

And now further upstream the traffic fades and the here by the bridge where cars are forgotten I can only hear ripples and I think of a game of Poo Sticks.

I can see beneath the surface here, the smooth pebbles underneath, some resting some turning with the waves.

Today it’s a cold April afternoon, but under the thick bandaged sky, this river feels like home. I watch the water, how it find its way around the plants with no resistance.

April 16th

Back at home I think about the river. I can’t see it from here, I can only see the builder’s van next door, hear the sounds of renovation and old cupboards coming out. In my Auntie’s cupboards we found many things. Her photos from the life before widowhood slowed her down, her precious tins of bit and bobs, of ration books saved from the 1940’s, of faded letters from my Uncle in the war.

And it was all there, a life frozen in amber, a collection of ephemera that stretched back to when my mother was a girl. We took the vases and figurines over to my parents. The car smelled of old things, dust – caked things and grime.

Above all else it smelled of memory and before we left, I rummaged through yet another bin bag and found the photos she’d taken on our Wedding day. They were saved in a haphazard order, in a half full album, another piece of the past found in a chipped wooden chest in the corner of her unused back room.

I keep wandering back to the river in my mind. But I didn’t think about it back then when I hurried to pick up my dress, when the staff folded it into the boot of the car and laid it with care, like the placing of a baby in a cot, soothing it with love and a reassuring hand. And the river flowed nearby but I didn’t think about it as I bought one last cream and red silk flower for the name-place cards. And back at home sometime later, while I glued the final rose in place, and while my Aunty, miles away, prepared her luggage for the trip, the river flowed.

And it flowed over the years between then and now and it was never still. It slowed, it swelled, it stagnated in places but it never stopped in its relentless nature, in the wisdom of its form.

April 17th

The sun’s come out now. It came out back then and I wonder if it came out on my Auntie’s wedding day. Looking through her stuff I came across a small plastic Woothworth’s bag and folded away inside I found her receipts from over seventy years ago. The paper, yellowed but her handwriting still visible. Dress, belt, hat, gloves and stockings all itemised and pounds, shillings and pence added up. Numbers in frozen pencil marks for all the finery, for her day. And I think of my own, of the dress that hangs in my parent’s wardrobe and of my boots, somewhere under my bed. I peer through the fragile papers, almost too delicate to touch. I wonder how she felt an hour before the vows, I wonder if my mother helped her to get ready and I remember my long distance friend, strapping me into my bodice and the photographer waiting downstairs.

My Aunty kept many things, in fact she never threw anything away and though I didn’t really know her very well, through the wall she built around herself, through the things she hung onto to keep her safe. But I connected with her, in the thin bag of memories, in the silver paper flowers she tucked away.

The sun’s so bright now, like it was back then when I stood with my parents under a sap full tree before my mother and my friend left for the church, ahead of us.

I found my wedding favour tucked in a drawer, chiffon wrapped silk roses and a raspberry ribbon. There would have been rows of them, lined up on the crisp white linen by now, waiting for the guests to arrive in the afternoon.

I wonder if I’ll have a relative who’ll find this piece of my life, fifty years from now? And I am fluid today, I am the river that I’m far away from, as I sit by my window in the sun. And I am there, rustling into the car by my father, with the scent of lilies and I’m my Aunty on a distant June day with her sisters in tow and the life to come, ahead of us all.

I’ve spend a lot of time recently opening old stuff, peering into corners and brushing dust. I feel dustful, I feel coated and caked like the patina of an antique and I am covered in age and her stories.

And as the younger me is whisked to the church, I take my mind to the river, to its force, where dust has no chance to settle, where it renews with no resistance, where it oozes with ease and grace.

And I think about a book I found in my Auntie’s back room, amongst the upturned chairs and tea sets, next to the box of Christmas bows and packs of unopened napkins. I found an old paperback.

There is wisdom in clearing, I have found, in releasing the things you no longer need. But under the weight of the hours some things will always remain. Silk flowers and fragile papers, floating around me like the flotsam on the river, linking us to the movement of time and a permanent reminder that we were there.

The paperback was titled Light in the Dust and I see dust particles dance in the light and I see photons of energy flow through the dark as the sun sparkles up from the river.

xxx

 

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February 27th

It feels like November today, any sniff of spring has been blown off course by these squally showers and as I watch the fields through the raindrops on these windows, I think of back then.

My boots still smell of the farm, the hay sodden around my low heels and I trudged. The grain made my eyes water as I followed through the mud to find the sheep. And here and there low murmurings, deep bleating and they huddled and bundled themselves up. The new lambs are still unsteady and they trample around their mother’s teats. Some shy away but most are interested in the presence of the strangers.

And I am such a stranger, I tiptoe through the sopping mud, it laps my boots, it cries out for wellies as I watch. The farmer says they’ve bought the sheep into the barn because the weather had turned bad. He apologised – as though he should have controlled the sun, as though lambs should only come out to the smell of fresh grass with the rays warming up their plastered down fur. They nuzzle, he points out the next one ready for labour and she stretches her neck out, she paces and pads the earth.

She has found her spot. Once they’ve chosen their place they will not move from it, he says and they nestle down. She sniffs at the new borns in the next pen, keen for her own and I watch.

The herd wander around with little plan, like my thoughts, like the mess of images in my head. They jostle for attention, compete for food as I think of my friend on her beach at the start of her journey and me and our son stepping out then, on ours. I remember writing words for the service while she spun in chaos far from home. And there we were, unknown to each other, on that day being birthed  from the safety of our respective worlds into a land we didn’t recognise, blinking on new straw.

There was something so brutal about the farmland today, so essential, the irresistible force to push on and out and I felt it in the bristle of the mother’s tongue, in the grasp of the farmer’s hand as he eased out more new life. There in front of me dazed and bewildered, finding its feet in this pulse of nature, as I think of my friend, as I think of my preparations back then.

Nature charging on regardless, relentless and driven.

 

February 28th

I’ve been watching the clouds again, how they’re pulled into a vortex to my right, the shadow trees were waving at me this morning as I passed by and now the rain is back. It’s dripping cold onto the farm pastures, the animals are inside and I arrange flowers back at home.

I bought alstroemerias, they look like tiny lilies and as I shuffle and tweak them in the vase, the rooks and the crows take flight, they cut up the air in such haphazard patterns. They look like they don’t know what they’re doing, absent minded winging on the winds but they’re guided by instinct, by nature and far away from them, in the warm, in our home  – so am I.

 

March 1st

There was a stillness down on the farm this morning. it wasn’t cold or warm, no biting wind or early rain, no spring sun, just a grey heavy cloud cover and a sense of the land waiting. The crows circled and landed, poked about and waddled in the mud, they’d found a puddle to drink from and gathered like old men at a wake, heads bowed, arms folded behind their backs and they nodded and paid their respects to the earth. They sipped and pecked around for food, then took off in a scattering, zig zaged black in my view and then the seagulls came in. They flew across in a broken badge, in a triangular twist with such purpose and I watched them pass by like my thoughts, like my feelings of back then.

I didn’t see the farmer today but his wife rushed out, their daughter was stuck in the mud, her truck revving up, going nowhere and she waved and laughed. I noticed her pony tail, hair scaped up for the day’s business and her practical clothes as she jumped from the cab, a round reinforced girl, fed from the land, unattached to the animals she raises and then eats. She didn’t mind being stuck, it happens and sooner or later you get out. She clambered back in the truck, plumped down on the the ripped leather seat and reversed out of the ditch.

Sometimes you have to go backwards before you can go forwards again.

xxx

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I used to love chicken, with a hint of salt, the way it melted in your mouth and whenever I went out to lunch, which to be fair, didn’t happen often, I would order a chicken salad sandwich and peer inside in case any of the meat dared to be pink. I could only do white meat, not grey, or darkened near the bone. If I was feeling reckless I’d have a Cajun chicken salad and pick my way around the bits that were too hot.

I can see the white ceramic bowl from the first meal in the Fat Cat restaurant where we checked each other out over my drizzled rocket and basil. And the radical chicken carbonara that I ate on one of the early visits up the motorway when we went to a new place by the garden centre that I’d found. I found bits of bacon in the creamy sauce and was surprised at how much I liked it.

And when I’d relocated South, Saturday mornings became the trips into town, a visit to the book shop (obviously) followed by a baguette stop in the café on the long main road. We looked out from a window seat, on high stools where I would have sliced grapes and green peppers in my packed chicken salad roll. I can see us leaning into the melamine, spotting strangers. I wonder how their lives have changed by now, those abstracted people we never spoke to. They wandered past, oblivious, heads in the air, wrapped in their own universe, unaware of the couple in the cafe looking out.

And far beyond them, up the road and miles away to a Christmas table, precision laid with finely sliced turkey in a lean-to on the edge of the hills. A gong still reverberating to summon us to the table and the best cut-glass glinted as we sat with napkins on our laps waiting for dessert.

I seem to have anchor points in my life secured by one foul or another and they lined up with me recently as I stood by the deli counter, waiting for the nylon hatted assistant to rip it from the bone. I thought of the cottage pies, the diced turkey hid away under my best leek filled mash, how it scalded your mouth if you bit in deep too soon and in those days we had table mats, procured from various places, usually scribbled on in crayon with images of trains and random birds.

And then the tasteless chicken came, the thick white bread stuffed with something rubber on a platter, in the visitor’s room, when other people said that I should eat – when I’d fainted on this day back then. I tried to eat chicken but couldn’t swallow, so I sipped water and stared out into space.

***

It’s raining today, an ambivalent, half-hearted drizzle. It feels like it wants a downpour to clear the stale air, but it can’t. Waves of cool drops come in then leave, the patio is dark grey and in my peripheral vision the robin nips in, grateful for the earth I’ve turned, hopping amongst the fresh seeds.

At the deli counter the other day I stood staring at the samosas, the premium quality scotch eggs and hunks of meat. How I used to relate to the image of a carcass, in the early months and years, something left over from the creature it used to be, something strung up on a hook with its insides hanging out. I’m more a piece of reformed meat these days, changed and reconstituted, shaped into something different, fit for purpose and as I stood on their sanitised floor by their gleaming glass, I thought of my absent face years ago at the same counter, going through the motions, ordering food. An assistant who I half knew said she hadn’t seen me for some time and had I been away? I remember staring blank at her moving mouth, not really caring what she thought, not being able to form words and I made some attempt at an answer then held it all in and rushed home.

I rushed home the other day too when the foyer of their store was full of a school trip with staff I used to know. An even though I was wrapped in my best hat and scarf, even though I was the best version of myself that I could be. I couldn’t walk up to them and say hello, I couldn’t even hurry past and nod but then I wasn’t having the best of days. Instead I took my reformed shape and hid behind the clothes and bags peeping at them through the 20% Off bright red tags. And when they moved down the shop I took my chance, I chucked the basket back outside and ran for home. My short shopping list could wait. It was a day when I couldn’t handle the old world pushed into my face.

Today it’s quiet, inside and out, it’s grey but my hyacinths are being delivered soon, I look forward to their pungent smell and buds searching out for the sun. My road beyond my windowsill is often full of vans, plumbers and Outreach men, fiddling with wires, landscape gardeners who live nearby and my neighbours’. Their extension is nearing completion, the huge grey wall out the back will he be rendered in a white finish. And although it hems me in, I see such potential. I will hang garden mirrors to reflect the light and I will grow clematis and buddleia for the peacocks. I will sit in the bee-loud glade when summer comes but for now it’s still my winter. All the vans are away today, the building work has stopped and the road is empty, it’s almost as though they know I need some silence, as though the dankness of the day is just for me. Memories come and go like the showers, I top up my earl grey and wait for my flower delivery. The only sound is the whirring of my dishwasher and the chuntering of my head.

At the deli counter I chose roast turkey. It felt appropriate, the finely sliced pieces, carved and weighed, wrapped in thin paper, neat and contained in my basket. But how I empathised with the bird, with the assistant’s hand inside it, and she wrestled and ripped, her hand full of giblets and I winced as she tore and looked away. How I wish I’d asked for a scotch egg instead.

So, it’s lunchtime on the 15th, my mind playing its little games. I drink tea and write as the rain falls, now a chicken goujon in the memory of my carcass. And so it goes.

xxx

hyacith

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It’s getting close now, it’s February 5th, moving around again, noting the dates as you can’t help doing.

Our son is off in the frost, no winter coat. It’s not the done thing as it’s more to manage at the other end. Bags and bustle to organise so you don’t need anything else to complicate the process even if it makes you slightly cold.

We’ve had the letter now. Next week is Options evening. Somehow we’ve arrived at that point, already planning for the next two years. I wonder about the conversations we’re not having, the other versions of everything from a parallel world. And I wonder if the end results would have been much different, if we’d been talking on un-reupholstered settees. Would he still be taking triple science? I believe he probably would.

I can’t know of course, I have to just work with what we have, with these conversations and the choices we make now. I find it so hard to keep up with him these days. I’ve been left way behind with maths, not hard really as we were both so rubbish weren’t we? I think he’s skipped a generation and picked up the skills from your Mum. Maybe it’s just who he is – the sum total of all his genes and experiences fermenting into so much more.

I guess he’s down the long road now, he walks so fast these days and the pavements are full of children chuffing, red cheeked, dripping noses, bags stuffed ready for the day. If I listen deep enough I can hear it. The sound of traffic, the floof of exhaust fumes around the car behind and the footsteps. Quick, focussed heading off to do what needs to be done.

It’s grey today. Solid low cloud, not like the rain from back then. I remember walking through the puddles with Jenny and following your Father’s back when I couldn’t raise my head. Some of it is so fragmented now like a broken mirror on the past. But it’s still there in the pieces and I can look at the shards and if I choose to I can reassemble the moments with care, hold the sharp edges in my hand and look deep inside.

He’ll be nearly there now, in the noise and throb of day. I need to fill in the form for the meeting, need to talk to him about the questions we need to ask, the things we need to understand and the decisions that we need to make.

I watch him straighten his tie in the mirror, the reflection clear and strong. And next week we’ll be going out to have conversations in different rooms with different faces. Walking alongside him as we plan the times ahead.

It’s after the 11th now. We negotiated the old faces on the bus, felt the shock and judder of who we used to be in their awkward smiles and I followed him around the rooms, sat through the presentations that explained the jobs to come, the roads that he would walk down.

It’s the 15th now as I tap this and I remember walking home with him after the Options evening, down the long road that seemed shorter as we talked. He’s just taller than me now and he was buzzing, so sure of the direction he needs. I can’t take it all in, the distances we’ve travelled, the new lands we’ve found. He walks so fast, like he talks when he’s in full flow just home from school. I wasn’t looking forward to Options evening, it seemed so out of place. But part of me looked out for people I might have known and felt less inclined to hide that night. And I sat next to him with my silver shot hair and best coat and scanned the crowd for the backs of heads from our past. I felt us pivoting into some place new and did my best to hide my beaming as he nodded to mates and clocked girls from a world that’s all his own. We did it all and did it well, an unexpected excitement running on top of these parallel lands underneath us.

Somehow so many tiny steps are making miles now. We are right where we belong.

We have choices.
It’s up to us.
xxx

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Through the dark and scary woods, a long long time ago we visited Brei in Oxford. I believe it was the winter after we’d lost your Mum and we pulled up and parked by their tiny stone cottage and waited for the sound of the dog. I can’t remember which breed it was now but I wasn’t comfortable around it and with a certainty, protected our son. I remember when we visited their workshops in the woods that the dog would be locked in the toilet. A rescue dog, the potential to be so lovely but they were always too busy to train him so he forged his own path with no boundaries, galloping around the rooms and leaping up at customers.

That was the last time we visited. We talked on the final stretch of the journey home. She hadn’t seemed that interested in the things you needed to say and you felt it wouldn’t be worth the effort to divert our route south again. But she still promised to re-upholster our settees. We confirmed phone numbers and emails, she vowed she’d get back to us but of course she never did.

I remember when they bought them down, right at the start in the autumn. Both she and Colin negotiating our new threshold and squeezed the sofas through on their sides. We paid for one each didn’t we, (though I’d agreed the fabric) mine was the terracotta one, a slight nap to the fabric, almost suede and yours was old gold, although she insisted the shade had another name. I’d bought fabric too for curtains and took forever to make them up. Always more confidence than competence when it came to sewing and I was there in full bloomed pregnancy, over two years later, crawling on the floor with pins in mouth trying and just succeeding to get the others finished for ‘the baby’s’ room. I believe my plan was to alter the lounge curtains to make them fit the play-room, years later when we moved in. But as with many things in that world, it didn’t quite happen and I didn’t get around to it and now the sun comes in with ease through those windows at the back with nothing to block the light that falls in, charging photons on the things I need to sort.

It’s the end of the year as I tap here, another swathe of time moved through and at the bottom of the stairs I have some swatches. Our son has chosen the new fabric and new colour. Soon as the days dance into weeks they’ll come to squeeze them out of these new doors, just after my birthday will be the way to go and I’ll watch the shapes of memory as they pile into their van.

Jan 1st 2015

And now I’ve crossed that bridge again into another year. My birthday tears up at me, somehow welcome, somehow unknown. I drop back to our hotel and the waiting faces that you planned for me. Ten years back then, with the friends who cannot be there for me now and the ones who remain by my side. And our settee that I sat on, on the eve of our eve that was piled high with cushions months later when my back had had enough and I sat through the hours like the Princess and the Pea until I could sit once more like a proper person again.

There’s something right about the timing now. Easing the old for the new and I’ll look to the door and our son as he tries it out for the first time. Making indents in new fabric. The fabric that sits on the top, the structure solid underneath. The foundations firm under a wave of change. The places where we sat, the life and times around us. Us in the moments, in the threads that bind and us now testing out of new material. Making our way, with new places to rest and to be.

Jan 10th

Fifty years ago my Mother went into labour and last week on a rare trip to town, I stood behind a fresh young couple. They bristled with new life, chirping over the pinkness that was snuggled deep in their pristine pram. I overheard their conversation with the cashier. How the baby was born at the start of the year, they were in the papers, and the Father yawned about how tired he was. I didn’t see the Mother’s face, but I could sense it, her exhausted euphoria, her aching pride and her primal commitment to the work to come.

They were on their way to the Registrars, they were excited to sign proof of her birth. I remember the building, where you went fourteen years ago while I lay upstairs on the bed, immobile with our own wrap of pinkness by my side.
I walked past the building many times in the old world, buses to catch, places to work. I see it now, from my wrapped up place on the journey home, I pass the small window by the railings, where from my inside view back then, I saw people’s feet walking by, and Jenny sat beside me and I couldn’t hold the pen. Couldn’t form the letters, couldn’t focus and all I remember was the enduring sense of Jenny on my left, their Pc screen and rub of tissues.

Same room, different forms and the circle completes again. My wanderings around town is framed in the look in their eyes, their joy carved out in the moments that lie ahead of them. And me, framed by the seat I sat on at the beginning of this journey. A document signed to force a new me to begin. And it’s that new me now who, with our son, has chosen the fabric to coat our life for the years ahead.

They’ll be taking the sofas away soon, peeling them back to their basic form and building them up again, into something new, something more padded, something able to withstand the moments to come. And we will sit and settle and welcome the newness.

Sofas and softness, stainings and scars and a life turning to renewal.
The re-upholstering of the girl I used to be.

I think of my Mother in labour,
I remember myself in labour.
Your face, his face
and our sofas at the door.

xxx

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A special post today, from my favourite blogger – our son xxx

It’s here! It’s arrived! And just time for Father’s Day! My very favourite episodes from Star Trek Deep Space 9 and Enterprise, enjoy:

Star Trek Deep Space Nine.

Move Along Home
Series 1 – Episode 10

A new species boards DS9 (the Wadi) they bring gambling games and Quark is naturally interested. But as he plays the game, the senior officers vanish in a maze of death and danger. Can quark save his friends or will they die when eliminated?

If Wishes Were Horses
Series 1 – Episode 16

In this episode a strange energy force consumes the space station causing every member of the crew to experience exactly what they think. The promenade becomes a blizzard, Rupelstilskin turns up and the space station is uncontrollably sucked into an obliterating anomaly (capable of destroying solar systems).

Crossover
Series 2 – Episode 23

Who remembers the TOS episode Mirror Mirror? Where a transporter accident creates a parallel universe full of death and violence. Well, Bashir and Kira have a plasma leak inside the wormhole, this sends them to the parallel universe, where the empire is at war with the Klingons and DS9 orbits Bajor.

The Way of the Warrior – Parts 1 & 2
Series 4 – Episodes 1 & 2

After the destruction of the Enterprise D (Generations,) Worf joins DS9 to assist Sisko with a fleet of Klingon ships helping the Federation to prevent a Dominion attack. However after Worf uncovers a plot to attack Cardassia he tries to stop General Martok (Second in command of the Klingon Empire) from doing so but when accords get out of hand Sisko must prepare for a full scale Klingon attack on DS9.

Trials and Tribble-ations
Series 5 – Episode 6

After Kira finds the Bajoran Orb of Time a runaway miscreant of the Federation steals it and sends the Defiant back in time almost 80 years to deep space station K7 where a well known TV hero is dealing with tribbles. Sisko and the crew must blend in to stop a bomb disguised as a tribble from destroying the U.S.S Enterprise and all her crew.

Call to Arms
Series 5 – Episode 26

In the outbreak of the Dominion war Sisko and crew are forced to abandon DS9 and retreat to safer territories. But Sisko won’t hand DS9 over to Gul DuKat that easily. He minds the entrance to the wormhole with self replicating bombs and bar obliterating DS9 he utterly ruins all systems leaving just Kira, Quark, Odo and Jake to greet the unfriendly arrival.

Sacrifice of Angels
Series 6 – Episode 6

Out numbered by two to one on Sisko’s riskiest plan ever against over a thousand Dominion and Cardassion ships, the Federation tries to retake DS9 from the Dominion.

One Little Ship
Series 6 – Episode 14

Starfleet gives Sisko a break from the front lines and tells them to study an interesting astronomical phenomenon, fly into it and all sense of size shrinks by a hundred and fifty percent. But when O’Brian, Dax and Bashir get stuck at finger nail size, can they do anything to stop a Dominion invasion on the Defiant and more importantly stop being the size of half a paper clip?!

Badda-Bing, Badda-Bang
Series 7 – Episode 15

After a new interactive hologram programme malfunctions, can the crew do anything to help the new holographic counsellor from going bust?!

Star Trek Enterprise

Shock Wave – Part 1 & 2
Series 1 – Episode 26
Series 2 – Episode 1

After destroying a planet, Enterprise is ordered back to Starfleet Command where a special visitor reveals what is actually happening and when the Enterprise is over run by the Suliban and the Vulcans want an end to Earth’s space programme, Archer is dragged to the 31st Century because he’s the cause of a drastic change in the temporal war.

Regeneration
Series 2 – Episode 23

When Starfleet find a perfect sphere and a frozen cybernetic body buried deep on the Arctic circle,
Enterprise is recalled home to investigate. They unfreeze the bodies to see if they are friendly but what they find is far worse than mean.

Twilight
Series 3 – Episode 8

After a shock wave causes a piece of the bulkhead to land on T’Pol and Archer rescues her, an unusual infection causes Archer to be unable to form any new memories. Almost 35 years into the future he wakes up in a camp where T’Pol explains his condition and the dreadful outcome of the Xindi conflict. Can Phlox eradicate the virus and ultimately restore the timeline?

In a Mirror, Darkly – Parts 1 & 2
Series 4 – Episodes 18 & 19

In the 700th episode of Star Trek ever to be broadcast, we find Archer in the evil parallel universe. The uniform has been changed, the Vulcans are in slavery and there is an all new title sequence! Archer find a rip in space time going to an alternate universe (the original universe). He also finds that the rip goes approximately 150 years into the future. He decides to enter it in the hope of finding second Empire but what he finds is the U.S.S Defiant (as seen in original series episode, The Tholian Web). Archer uses this new found power and attempts to become Emperor of the Empire but it’s not just him who wants to grab futuristic weapons…

These Are The Voyages
Series 4 episode 22

The crew faces one final mission to rescue Commander Shran’s kidnapped daughter. After a mostly successful mission but the unfortunate emotional death of Charles Tucker 3rd (Trip) Archer makes a speech that will be the beginning of the Federation as we know it. Which is then memorised by 24th Century grammar school students.

This marks the end of great series of episodes and even though J J Abrahams continues with his films it will never be the same as good old fashioned Gene Rodenberry’s Kirk.

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I remember the late days of pregnancy, the heat of summer evenings and the walks up to the ridge before my back went. It was the first season of Big Brother, a novelty – something to watch back in those days. I see our tiny house, the faded green carpet that we inherited, your rug from the people at work and our airer by the kitchen door, by the breakfast bar space that was just used for boxes.

I have boxes now, different ones, full of toys and years, the jobs in front of me stack higher than these memories, things to sort, to sell, to chuck and everything needs looking at. I’m overwhelmed by the work ahead but can only chip away, paying attention to the moments and moving towards now.

I need to find the old book I wrote in, in that other life, where I scrawled something in it every night, even if it was just a sentence and I kept it for months and months. Years later I would add to it on key dates. The book was filled up, evolved to become folded up A4 sheets, in a stash inside the cover, notes and thoughts of the world you’d passed through. I remember changing the style and the tone. I hadn’t worked out when I’d give it to him, maybe aged seven? Couldn’t imagine having a seven year old, what would that be like, what do they do? What are they into? what do they need? Or maybe I’d keep it till he’s ten? Still writing to a child, adapting memories to my perceived sense of what he’d understand by then.

Unresolved. Maybe it was best for an adult, a gift at twenty one, so it shifted and changed as our life moved and the hardback red book I originally wrote in moved from its home by my bedside to some box, in some cupboard waiting to be unearthed, tucked away by your old telly, the one you used to watch from the floor in your first home, a floor more comfortable than that settee.

So the words remain in the cupboard though I’m drawn to get them out, pour over that life and write up and neaten the things I need to. Looks like it’s heading for an adult gift then and by then he’ll have these chapters too. This other book that evolved from the sidelines, from out of nowhere, this record of movement and change, a permanence of thoughts in this constant flux. He will have your book too, the one that sits on your bedside table and the printed up version lying flat in the bookshelves. Collections of words that form us, tell this story, map the journeys as we move and through the ink splots and lines of print he’ll see it all, see the process, the patterns and the love.

Some time ago, in the old world, I bought a book. It talked about the power of Story, about gifts handed down through generations. Nothing tangible, wrapped in bows, or beautifully packaged like the slick layers of an Apple product box – but tales, stories, memories carved through eons, the sounds of a soul through its ages. It talked about a gift for a child, to write them a story about who they are, their qualities, skills and dreams woven through words, something you can’t buy. A story of them from the inside out.

Somewhere I made notes, had thoughts on the structure, tried to form it from a wondering of who he’d become. But I didn’t write the story then, I just bought things to wrap, life pushed in the way and we slipped suddenly between the worlds to this place now.

Looking back to that old red book about broken nights and full nappies
I see the start of this road. It feels high up here from this distance, like the top of the hills that we climbed and the stones we picked up, kept tucked away, safe in pocket, another solid something to look on, to hold a piece of that place. And I feel the gusts blow around me, make my eyes run as I look down on the town and fields, the life before us, down there, in the cradle of hills with the winding path up to this one.

It’s just turned September today, I was due to give birth back then but it didn’t happen and continued not to happen for another two and a half weeks. And that story was thirteen years ago – thirteen, really? I remember your words on that subject and now I’m here on a different page, writing it, breathing it with him.
I see all the strands entwined, the individual tales weaving one coat, worn by us all but hanging differently on each of us. I take a deep breath as I push out into this next chapter, I’ve written what I can for him so far. We’ve given him his own pencils and paper, I help him sharpen up the colours that he chooses, the colours that belong to him.

Sept 4th
Sat in that familiar space, the first day of term. Same yet different as the condensation obscures my view in my wooden place. The pigeons are close. I feel like I’m inside a flock, soft battering of feathers all around me. I could be anywhere on the planet in this sense of space-time and this feeling would wrap around me now. I brush my fingers down the glass, confused that the mist is on the outside, I don’t understand it. I stick my hand out of the window and draw shapes from the other side. It’s all different to what I’d expect but that’s how it is.

I’m cast back to last September and the moments that came years before when the fabric on the rocking chair was still golden and rich and the pine bed was new in its warm honeyed glaze.
And here now, by the pond in this gentle ripple of morning, under this cloudless sky, I see his book wide open, the parts we’ve written and the smooth pages calling him, (with these flutter of wings), calling him to fill them with his own words.

I remember writing in another world, in another place, that the spiders had reclaimed the swing. It’s a similar feeling now though I can’t see the swing from here. The pigeons are so noisy today, prompting me to move, showing me the way.

I feed the fish and go in.

September 14th
I’m in both places, aware of the act of memory, aware of the act of seeing.
I have an all permeating sense of my story and its sounds and shapes are jangling around me now.
I see where the stories start to merge, existing dependant on each other and I see their separate paths, letters and words forming new routes as his story evolves in parallel to mine.

I have a sense of sitting somewhere,
moving through time and experience, my colours changing and deepening. Paint loaded on the brush, nib shined gold under this sharp pungent pool of ink. The black blue drips onto the page as I stroke through it, forming lines and curves, this story in some guise – through time, being in the words.
I hand the pen to him, but he already has his own, he’s busy, focussed – becoming.

We write.
xxx

September 17th
The night whips around me, the trees sing in the storm. I remember the willowing calls, the pierce of lightning on my glass, the loud tick of clock as I slipped into sedation, in the late evening of my longest day to come.

I bring the presents in, in the present. The moon shuffles behind a country sky, its bluster fits the day. The night plays around me, peeling back layers of our world.
Everything tingles on the turn of this new wheel.

x

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I always liked compasses, as I child I coveted their slick shined domes, arrows twitching mysteriously. I can’t see them from my youth but I know they were there. I can only see the recent one, bought in a gift ship at end of a walk, half for our son as he chose the green one. And the image flips me to another shop buying up bits while you rode the mud together and I met you both by the front low wall as you screeched up and leaned by the side. I remember the tyre marks on the back of his top worryingly strong and clear but he’d only been leaning up the wheel as you stopped for juice from the little carton with a ‘stwor’ and he was smaller than now and the wheel was big. And I can see you bombing off from the carpark up the dusty road while I wandered to the shop and once, just once, I came with you and stood by the wooden bike hire shack, trying to find the one for the fit and wibbled and wobbled with you through the undergrowth, by the station and booted it over gravel before my knees gave in.
And my compass banged up and down on my small red rucksack, the one I bought for the Alps from the old sports shop where my hiking boots were a size too big to fit my fuzzy socks and our son wasn’t made and my jacket was red and yours blue. The rucksack lasted on all the walks, a tardis of treasures that you both teased me about, in the forest, in the teashop, warm butter and china mugs, laughing at me as you ticked off the things I’d carry while I triumphantly pulled out the ubiquitous banana. And the table was wide old walnut, just up the road from the horses where you clopped down the lane and I followed.

August 10th

In this world a proper summer has returned, like those from 70’s of my childhood when you were back in the North and I sweltered in the South.

I wake, the overnight fan blows strong and loud, its confident whirring sounds like a plane. I’m up high somewhere in metal hurtling but directed, the pilot knows where he’s going.
On land in my bed I’m muddled in memories, the morning before the birthday meal, tipping up the old camp bed and laughing in the hours before the quotes. The quotes around a different table at the last meal, the last Sunday, four days before this one. Rushing back from school now to the start of the end and although I know where the dates are leading me, I’m sticking with the thought of flight, watching us in my little room pack and prepare for this journey. Younger eyes knowing much less, a different world view from this Unknown.

I bounce all over in the turbulence finding things that I’d forgotten, peering through old windows and looking carefully through the fragile and delicate, the solid and permanent, the moments of our world.
The engine’s strong, directed. I may go into the cockpit have a word with the pilot. I’d like to know what he does but maybe I’m not allowed, maybe I have to stay here in my seat, bump along the air pockets and look down, observe the scenery with awareness be in the moment of flight.

He has his altimeter, I have my alethiometer still heavy, strange, a precious responsibilty. But it was given, this gift, in its rust velvet sack, the chord golden and twisted.
I know when to hide it, I know when to fetch it out, to tap its crystal screen, watch the needles spin and twitch, then feel. Feel where the symbols are pointing, lift up into their meaning, let the images dance and shift until they make sense.

Then I move, then I act, reading the symbols, wrapped in fur on my journey North. The snow bites as I follow bear prints. It’s cold, it’s confusing but I’m learning through the dials.

Guided, driven.
In this plane, on this journey.
Here in my bed on this day, drifting and watching. The fan burrs out across the room. I’m lying flat watching ceilings, just like back then.

Such a strong sense of travel.
I am everywhere. I grab the compass.

Time to get up.

August 14th

I remember being lost in Valencia with our end of trip verve we branched out and split from the herd. Our insurance policy was the guide ordered taxi who would whisk through new streets to the cathedral. With a tour pick up from there with bright buses to show us the way, we couldn’t go wrong… So we peeled off and piled in our rattle trap taxi, bouncing on the low soft sprung seats, our son unsure of the steps we were taking but we reassured him, we had instructions, we knew what we were doing.

The driver dropped us in his appointed place, I can see it now, light, heaving, chaotic with tourists and sights and though the cathedral shouted out to us from its gothic spires, it was quickly obvious we weren’t at the right side. Amongst concerns from our son about what we would do if we missed the boat and all our possessions sailed without us, we hid our concerns and stumbled into tourist information. In broken English with biro stabbed maps we grappled to find the direction and as our clock ticked down we rushed and flustered to a different street, clutching our son’s hot hand, to find the boarding point we needed later.

In our noticeable relief you found an outside table serving Guiness while confident of our directions, we plotted where you were in relation to the shops and spires, straight up passed the fountain and swung our rucksacks in the glare of Spanish sunshine to find a fairytaled sweetshop. The owner who appeared like Mr Ben from behind a twinkling curtain helped me part with the last of the euros in exchange for a plastic cement mixer loaded with marmallows (such an obvious souvenir). And though the clock ticked we didn’t care because we knew where we were, we knew where you were sat and we knew where we were going.

Sweets in hand, under the loud blue sky we made our way back to you and in the carefree moments before the jostle of bus, we took a final photo, you and our son by the fountain, shining into the light, him in holiday brightness and you in the same alluring pose from that first ever photo all those hours ago, from the world before I knew you, when you sat infront of Niagra in those vile and zany lemon shorts.

We caught the bus in time despite our fear, despite out foolish challenges, despite losing our way for a while. Travelling, testing ourselves, finding answers on our path.

Two and half years ago tonight I was shoved off the path, knocked down and smashed my compass.
Still clutching our son’s hot hand as we fell inexorably towards tomorrow.

August 15th

It’s raining today, I can hear its hiss through these thin windows. The drops are quite uniform, speckled on my glass, varieties of wishes upside down in each one, a world turned on its head under the breaking grey of sky.
My back’s playing up, just like 13 years ago in the month before I gave birth. In today’s careful steady steps I remember those movements, the inching along and I flip around to the memories locked away.

Our son is messing with the sprinkler, firing droplets into the trees. The sun pushes through, I tell him he may make a rainbow as the water flys and dances in photons. He tells me ‘Yes, but you need to sit inside the raindrops to see it…’

Pointing towards Polaris, through the rain and rays.

x

Ps
And now a word from our sponsor – our son…
Hello viewers of my Mum’s blog. I need your input on my next post. Please look back at my post called The Final Frontier,

https://thetaoofgrief.com/2012/06/17/the-final-frontier/

pick out your favourite episode, then leave it as a comment on this post. I will then describe it in a much detail as I can, in my next post entitled
‘To Boldly Go Into As Much Detail As Possible’
Thank you:-)

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