Archives for posts with tag: computer

 

 

June 18th 2017

I prepared his lunchbox for the last of the school days, the penultimate exam, the final full day and I secured the sandwich in the tired out plastic box. And as I did, I recounted the changing faces of the vessels over the years. The turquoise Thomas box bought at a day out with a friend when the steam made our eyes run and we chuffed down the rails and after the Reception class came Spider-Man in primary coloured nylon as he learned how to write. Year 2 was Lazy Town, a soft cover which caught the crumbs before a Year 3 army camo box with a matching water bottle. Year 4 saw us chugging up the hill with Toy Story, with Buzz at his side, falling with style and it was this lunch bag which I stuffed with cold fish fingers when we rushed back to the relatives room, to sit and wait, to watch the walls close in around us in Year 5. And afterwards his Sponge-Bob garish lemon shape turned up, it grinned at us for the rest of the year when our muscles forgot how to smile and into the final Primary walks with a tin box ordered from Amazon, flown over from the USA with Star Trek on its side.

Then Secondary came without the merchandised logos, without the beaming smiles and we settled on the lime green nylon that supported him through the days, right up until this final year when the blue-black lunch bag was the way. I’ve just turned it inside out now, given it a symbolic good clean, old crumbs and straws tumble into our sink, the residue of things past and as it dries out I make one last sandwich and recall.

I remember dropping him in the Reception class and leaving him kneeling on the floor with things to piece together, a new track, a new map to construct and I walked away. I looked back, his hair was lighter then, his head bent down busy, engrossed as I left and I walked as the trees blurred in my path.
And now I iron the penultimate shirt, aware of the years and minutes. Feeling the hours that bought us to here.

June 19th 2017

Next door’s scaffolding should come down soon. It watches over me, grey struts at odds with the soft spikes of my bamboo, with spears that have grown over time. A bluebottle dithers, disoriented but stays outside and the garden is poised in the sunlight. It will be warm today, the soil where the roots and weeds used to be, heats up, beaks poke, legs crawl and I can see my garden to come, when the work has been finished. How like a meadow it will look with lupins with salvia and an area to walk, with places to sit and watch but for now it is waiting. We are in the lull. The old has been ripped away, bagged up and hauled onto their van but when they return, when the fence becomes solid, when the trellising goes up, then the grass seed will come, then the mulch and flower food. How dark the compost will be, rich with nutrients, particles to bind to roots, to wrap around them and hold as they grow.
And the shoots will come, sap bright, saturated with a need to pull to the sun and they will flower. There in our garden when the pond is complete, when the water flows without restriction and the stones bring balance, bring clarity.There in our garden colours will grow, earth will sustain and rain drench us all.

A magpie clattered down the roof of the summerhouse and perched on the edge. How strong the contrast in his feathers, how they pushed out, bold in black, in white, through my green and away. He paused before flight regaining himself, judging his next move. Like the old man I see on our lanes most days, with his cap and zimmer frame, out every day despite the weather, to make his journey to the shops and back again and he keeps going, keeps pulsing despite his obstacles.
And the old man on my summerhouse surveyed his land then flew, beat wings into the day with grace and power.

And I am waiting, it’s not long now. Our son head down again today.

June 21st 2017

The shadows stroke the trees, like a hand across a head, like a soothing touch against the day and pupils wander through the gates – the young ones with rucksacks almost too big for their small shoulders, the older ones, term weary weighted down by tests and work and then our son’s year – the veterans with end of school hair in their eyes, with rag-taggled uniforms  hanging on to the last. And they have the air of resignation after the build up, after the heft of expectation, they are almost there, almost done and now it’s a process to complete, a final hoop to jump through. And there goes our boy through the gates we used to know, for one more time, one last moment to follow their rules, in their system before the giddiness of the open door.

And as he sits at the desk, pen poised, waiting for the words ‘it’s 9:09, you may begin,’ I sit at my pc and pause. Outside in the park behind our house I hear the workmen’s radio and the distant throb of machines. The play-ground is being renovated and as the cement whirrs in the growing heat, they dig and prepare. There used to be bouncy tarmac out there, to soften the fall and in the places where I brushed stones from his knee, where I kissed hot skin better when I could, is a pile of silt now and the space where the climbing frame stood.

And in our home and garden as the curtain billows at the open door, I see flickers of our boy, of his countless faces, turning and changing, of his voice peeling out, giggling higher than it is now and he fills the space around me, he saturates our garden with all the children he used to be. There, as the light moves across my new bird feeder I see him running towards us shouting ‘charge!’ I see his pristine primary sweatshirt and, right now I see his broader shoulders as he marches off with all his mates.

its quiet, apart from the tweep of fledglings, apart from the flutter of wings and under the hum of machinery, I anticipate his end of school face at the door.

For our son – beyond proud.

xxx

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In the quiet morning, when the day had not yet decided if it would be warm or if it would rain, I watched his legs. From the window I could see them as they walked the path to school, as they were coated in spring leaves, dappled on his black trousers and then the branches came and covered him and took him into the tree.

A moment later, higher up and further along the path, a flash of black in the gaps and then he turned right, to our subway, to the one I painted years ago when brush strokes, not words were my way. And it will echo to his feet now and then he turns left. I feel his journey though I cannot see it, the hill he has to climb and now the brush of traffic. The cars full of aftershave, the makeup tweaked in rear view mirrors and everyone has motion, needs, relentless nature turning and by the railings with his mates, with friends, he’ll start on the cut through road.

I know these roads but never walk them with him, only sometimes on the way to a fayre, but these are his streets, the dips in the pavement and the old school we used to know. And as he passes it now, we are there years back, younger, smaller with sparklers in our hands and friends who don’t live near now, whose hands have turned round clock faces like ours, who’s changes have carried them away in time and we all hang in the air, like a scent of jasmine or lavender, like the not quite forgotten lyrics of a song.

And at the junction near the main road the cars pick up steam, they knit and weave between each other, giving way or scowling and in the far off greens behind him, the rolling downs fade up through lilac and grey, under flat bottomed clouds, cropped just for him today and a sky we used to know.

And at the lights again in the push and shove of morning ready, for the almost starting day, he will be there, bag getting lighter as last lessons come and go, his lunchbox lid has spilt across the middle, a diagonal tear in red plastic and it hangs on. Each day the split grows more but it will make it, the lid he’s held for years is almost at its end, like his own phase. And it’s tucked away in his lunch bag, next to his exam pencil case which he will need today.

And through the gates now, I imagine, with the heartbeat slightly raised, there, passed the drama rooms he use to visit on Saturday mornings when we sat in the coffee shop downstairs.

The blossom is coming out on the tree outside my window, like every year, like years ago on the early walks to primary with hot hands and book bags and the spelling hill to the roundabout – and now.

Now even his blazer is getting small and I watch the leaves on the tree outside my window, so still today, so quiet as though it’s holding its breath, as though it’s wishing him well and in every leaf at a cellular level it buzzes, particles whirr like his neurones and in every atom I see the image of him growing and forging out through time.

Our son, preparing, and today every leaf and every insect wing, every photon of light knows his name.

xxx

 

14th

I’ve been tiding up today, in old corners in preparation for Monday. Our teen is approaching the end of school and planning a break from revision with a take over in the lounge, with his mates, with their games, with their testosterone. And I’ll be upstairs, away from the event, in my own event in my mind.

Amongst the dust and old receipts today, I found our life, scrumpled up in dog-eared magazines in the scrawl of our younger boy’s hand and the photos. Lost days caught in pixels, faces I used to know and they looked back at me. Deep sea diving, distorted thumbs up from a submerged world in our past and I went back. Back to the presents from friends, to the trips and the linear life that we knew and while I brushed remnants into the dustpan, our son woke himself up watching You tube.

He has subscribed to many channels now, some fascinating, some nonsense but it’s his world and on Monday while I’m away in my head, his world and the connections he has made will fill our room. I’ll welcome the loudness of teenage boys, the inescapable movement of time in contrast to the blossom in my thoughts. It’s nearly here.

The sunlight pours in through my blinds as I take a break from tidying. The edge of petals deepen red, the purples turn to pink and I stop.

There was such excitement eighteen years ago, nervous energy getting the final jobs done. Long distance guests arriving tomorrow and everything gearing up for the day. My friend would make the journey south, her toddlers at Grandma’s for the day. She would strap me into my dress and lace boots. Her toddlers are adults now and, like our son, full of verve and possibilities with virtual worlds at a touch.

We had no fb to post our wedding pictures on, no tweets about the highlights of the day. No instagramed tweaked shots, filtered to perfection just an aperture and the light flooding in, just a dark room and the chemicals bleeding us out of the paper, in our finest clothes, in our silk and taffeta, in our scarlet and cream. In crisp suits that smelled of corsages and we emerged, an image at the church door, an imprint on glossy paper in a tray. There was nothing instant in those days, just smiling and waiting and wondering.
And now the excitement builds again, our teen is planning food and games, a re-charging of batteries in a multiplayer universe where I don’t belong.
On Monday my home will be rich in the scent of lilies, now as back then, perfumed in petals from my roses, under the vibrant sound of youth.

On my stairs there will be a portal, an aperture where I’ll cross between the worlds, a necessary doorway between this present and our past and I’ll move through.

And while our boy winds down and whips up I’ll return to my own multiplayer universe where all the faces are frozen in time, where I pause and rewind and play again because I can, because it’s a game I love so much. Away from the hubbub downstairs, back in the spring sunshine with confetti in my hair.

16th

And now Sunday is around me as I finish favours and take place cards to the hotel in my mind. In every re-run I’m one rose short, so I rushed to haberdashery shop, bought a single silk flower and stuck it in position while relatives nattered, before I was driven home. I rustled the bagged dress up the stairs, felt the nerves surround me and watched the clock.

And back here in the now, the bunny ears have arrived for our son. He’s agreed to tell his mates the gaming is off and instead an egg hunt has been arranged! I’m so tempted to come back downstairs tomorrow and ask the hoards, using my best playgroup voice,

‘Would anyone like a jelly ?’

And we laugh, he knows I won’t, of course. I’ll be away amongst the daffodils with the Cathedral to my side and I will smile.

The afternoon is ticking, my lilies are opening up and in the pungent air of our teen prepared lounge I pause, I watch the blackbird bathe – tomorrow is approaching.

17th

Our son’s asleep and all around me in the opening of petals are the moments, fast forward and rewound, and paused and played again. The sepia pixels finding colour as I check the clock and watch myself in the corner of our little lounge, with women attending and flowers arriving and the air rich with perfume and nerves.

I need to put the sausage rolls on, in the present, our son needs to do his last minute checks and the home is still. All I can hear is the throbbing of the fridge and cars brushing away outside while in my mind the layers build, the fragments flutter round me and I am younger, I am preparing and I am there.

And the tarmac fell away to fields, distant crops and clouds, and closing in as the birds sang out, to the gate and the rush of last minute friends. Downstairs now, the food and drink are piled high, devices are charged as I swish up the path, past old stones and ancient trees to the welcome faces at wooden doors.

And our son waits for the cars full of mates while you wait in the hush as I walk in. Our son’s party starts soon. The lilies open wide their faces to the clouds. Heavy pollen drenched, like memory.

In hope, in certainty.

xxx

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I’m sat at my screen and I type like I did back then, when all I could do was to sit at my screen and type and words tumbled out in no particular order but they came out and they come out now. Now I sit at my screen and I’m aware of the fragments in my head, of the way my mind is trying to process the news but like back then, the images and thoughts are coated in a thick gloop, they pull apart from each other, they struggle to make sense but they don’t. In my head, like in the early times, there’s just a fug, a twisting, churning mess and I just follow it. All I can do is let the thoughts and feelings bubble up and jostle for position. There is a sense of being propelled from a familiar place again into somewhere strange, into a different land and so I type.

My devices are all active, they hum and bleep with updates as a spectrum of people post and grapple with the news, all affected by the connection to you. I remember sitting, staring at the flashing curser, in my week three, the TV bleating out downstairs, my son watching cartoons in his own fog and I took calls. I rambled and sobbed to the friends who reached out and then I posted. I typed and wrote the words and you responded, from out there, lost in your own hell at day nine, still counting on your fingers as you reached me.

And now I keep turning over the words and the messages, the encouragement and support. And while I type, I can feel the buzz of updates I haven’t read yet, of people calling each other and reaching out. A web of connections from your life, I can hear it now, a background radiation of complex links and all of us with our own stories, our narratives of how we knew you and for each of us somehow, in the places where we collided, there is a tearing now.

I used to post so much in the early days when every journey to the shops was an event, when the smallest interaction provoked a stream of emotions needing to be expressed and you encouraged me to start a blog. I remember being in another country with my son, away for the first time in our new world and as I took the hairpin bends in a coach, miles above sea level, riddled with anxiety, surrounded by strangers, I planned out my first post. There up a mountain in my chaos, I was anchored with the knowledge that I would write it out. I held the thoughts, I made mental notes and I coped because when I got home, when we’d survived what others saw as a holiday, I knew I had a vehicle for the pain and so I typed. And when I was finished, I sent it to you because you wanted to link it to your blog and give me the springboard into a world I relish now.

Now I process everything, up and out from the dust filled corners and the dark places that hide around the back, to the joy and the lightness that come from a full world and when the feelings make no sense – like now, now in this concentrated tapping on the keyboard, when the desire to check updates makes me type faster than I can, I turn to words. You were two initials on a forum, you were the stretched out fingers that reached mine and we travelled together. And now all your fellow travellers struggle to make sense of this place, we reach out to others like you did and we hold on.

Through my open patio doors, the sound of another Saturday seeps in, people mowing lawns, toddlers shrieking and my washing machine churns like my head, like my stomach when I heard the news. I must check my newsfeed; I need to keep close to the others touched by this. We stumble, our virtual family but we reach out, like you did on our journey. Our paths entwined, a patchworked tribe and I’m one of the many threads,  grateful for the entanglement, so thankful for the hand of a friend.

My washing has finished but my stomach still churns. I must check my newsfeed.

We are all connected.

❤️

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Week 51 waiting for the guilt of a day when I don’t cry. It will come, it’s inevitable but I fear it. I will have to allow it though, when it comes, let it in and let it pass just like all the other elements.

The physical process has caught up with me recently, running on empty for so long. I’m tired of the aching ribs after a bad few days. Tired of thinking and feeling, of constantly churning it around in my mind. It’s always there running in the background like some antivirus software chugging away, slowing down the system.

He would do a ‘clean up’ once a month and fiddle about with programmes that were outside of my area. I wasn’t really bothered so long as I could use email and internet. It was what he did, his designated department like doing the BBQ, poking the fire while I arranged lettuce or being in charge of the TV reception in a holiday cottage – he checked the scarts, I unpacked the clothes. Those little parts of a relationship that build up over the years, that you carve out between you, that you grieve for in the new world, losses within loss, all needing to be looked at.

I was never entirely sure why it took so long to run these scans but it was built into the odd weekend and apparently improved the system. So into the new world it occurred to me there was no ‘cleaning up’ being done mid month or at any other time and I wondered just how long the computer would work without this input. It did slow down a little but nothing that another cup of green tea couldn’t wait for. Of course whenever I switched it on it screamed at me to update, install and upgrade but I tentatively then defiantly and more recently, irritatedly clicked out of them. I could get to my blog, that was enough, it was ok. But at some point when the window reminding me of the number of updates became so huge it needed its own update, I decided to do something about it. And it rattled away through the night and a through a worrying amount of the following morning but nothing exploded or combusted and my email was still there. Solved it, for now at least. Another aspect to bitterly take over, to stumble through and take on. To just about get away with it, (like existing.)

It took me back to an early moment from before we were even married. In the long pre parenthood evenings we became obsessed with a computer game (me, for a while. Him for…a little longer). I faffed about with it, complained at some of the imagery, but occasionally enjoyed blowing something up after an irritating day at work, plus it was great for bouts of PMT. He, naturally, took it more seriously and compared notes and techniques with his friend who’d introduced the blessed thing to us in the first place.

There was competition between us and of course I couldn’t keep up. It was silly and fun and I was many levels behind him. However… one evening while he was engrossed in some programme I decided to have a bit of a catch up. I tried my best but still couldn’t get beyond the train depot, I was stuck, couldn’t jump, couldn’t go back and couldn’t find the trick to get out (like a bad day now.) I saved it, gave up and thought just for a moment I’d have a look at where he ‘was’. I clicked on his last session, had a snoop around, was none the wiser and came out of it. I did save it properly, I’m sure I did. Honestly. But something made me look again and a horrible creeping coldness came over me (a different universe of coldness to the one sledgehammered around you when you’re taken into a private office and the soft gentle click of the door closing behind you is as loud as your heart banging in your ears.)

But back then in that simple free careless griefless lossless world, it was a bad feeling. I looked again at his session and, god help me, I’d overridden it with my own, mine from the ‘early girly baby ‘ levels that he’d gayly skipped over weeks ago. This wasn’t good. Not good at all. I thought about trying again but was well out of my depth so trudged guiltily down stairs to get his attention. I stood before him like a naughty child, my expression saying it all when I thought I had bad news for him (a universe away from when I approached the same settee thirteen years later to sit by our son. Then there was no expression, there was no face, I was nothingness, I was void.)

But back then he looked up as I jokingly offered him back the engagement ring to illustrate the depths to which I had fallen. To be honest, there was some swearing and he had a fantastic range, so creative and so many new words that I’d learnt over the years. Some of them came out then, as he went to survey the damage. We were never really quite sure how I did it but clearly now there was a job to be done so I replaced the ring and let him get on with it. He was still busy getting on with it when I went to bed later and like my recently updated system apparently he also chugged away through the night …just to catch up. And so a mere seven hours later and all was as it should have been. I did finish the game at some point and we emailed his friend to explain my ‘faux pas’. I remember his email back to us, it was very very long and made only one comment repeatedly ‘Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha’.

Years later I was pretty good on the computer but he was always a step ahead and was in charge of the background stuff, that suited me and it worked for both of us. But now I have to tinker and mess about with things I don’t really understand. I have to make mistakes, and get it wrong, I have to research if I don’t know, I have to google it and if all else fails ‘get a man in’. Like I had to recently about the boiler. But I make sure I know my angles, till I know enough or have some idea of what to say. I gird my loins, know my lines and hide my ring finger in my pocket. I get through it, feel stronger until he rings back later with figures and says ‘do you want to discuss it with your husband first?’

I say I’ll get back to him and drop the phone. The remains of the day are overridden.

But now I can’t go upstairs to catch up, I can’t do anything, I can’t change it, no amount of hours will erase this incomprehensible situation. And the whole grotesque programme is turned up loud, running, screaming at me in the foreground now. And all I can see are all the details in a neon garish close up counting down brightly pixilated all around me, in a continual strange loop, inescapable rushes ticking and ticking, watching me watching it, re living it second by second, frame by frame, atom by atom for the next week

until

Game over.

x

Epilogue

Sodden after snow, remaining clumps hang on to coldness. The thick mist pulls itself close into the hill. The air is saturated with bird calls. Ugly mud demanding its way. Fuzzy horizon, battered and damaged ground beaten by snow and little ice pools of mud strawed out the old grass.

Way too many dogs having to walk despite the cold.

Damp quelled people shuffle around me as though I’m not here. Standing oddly in the middle of nowhere typing with a purpose they don’t know.

Not so cold, but the day carries an odd heavy mysteriousness. Time to work this out at home, I think. Treading down the plants I stood by earlier, bashed and held back by frozen tears. None of this feels real today. The bird tapping through the mist, the careful steps, the tingling skin. I don’t think I’m here. I don’t understand this. Time for a slow descent, this isn’t working.

Heady anticipation

On the edge

Clinging

Tested the normal route but it was impassable, clung to branches and changed direction. Tripped, snagged by bramble, ignore and keep going. Needed to pick my way home by the steamed up traffic. Thrown back into the rush hour thoughts. Hurrying relentless. Glanced at woolied toddler safely shielded from this icy pain trundled by in designer wheels. Flipped back to the days of tantrums and tired achievements of getting out just to buy a sticker book. And it hurts too much and I have to stop.

And just by my drain I met the old lady, huddled years weighing her down. Taking care of herself in wool and nylon, smiling up at me with support of stick and terrier. And is that bedraggled matted guide her only company when she closes the door? Has she been through all of this near the end of her life? What agony has she lived with? How has she changed to accommodate the weight of loss? Creased and stripped by the hours but still out there in the cold, in the winter, hunching her way through the days.

I smile back. I want to hug her, I want to hold her tightly, this total stranger wet and wrinkled in navy. I want to take it all away, what ever it is. To comfort, to make better, to carry, to ease her pain and mine. It will be ok, it will be ok, it will stop. I want to cry in her arms as the dog pulls and yaps at our feet. His jingling collar shining through the darkness.

I hold the image. What does she know? What will I know by then?

Did I walk past myself?

Her persistence. Her pain.

One step in front of the other, following the scratch click of eager paws.

Hardened, but grace in her stoic fragility.

x