Archives for posts with tag: Journeys

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It’s just over one day to the end of this year and I can’t help wonder which other celebrities will not see in 2017.

Bowie went on my birthday and the year started as it meant to go on, they kept on coming, or should I say going, thick and fast. Reaction seems to fall into a few categories – much younger people, mainly untainted by loss, referred to it as, (in the case of my son’s friend), The Year of the Dead Celebrity, while much older people note yet another death, having a tally chart on their bed ends, having outlived many family and friends. But it feels like it’s my contemporaries, us middle-agers, who are shaking our heads the most.

Some of it is inevitable, many of those familiar faces came from the baby boom era, becoming famous around the same time and hitting late middle age or early old age en masse. For those of us, menopausal women, midlife crisis-ed men of a certain age, it seems to have kicked away a cultural crutch. These were the faces and the voices we grew up with, the musicians that were always there, who put words and sounds onto the feelings we couldn’t express, the Bowies and the Cohens, the poets for our teenage dreams. All of us with our moments and fragments of how these lives intersected with our own.

For me, school uniforms were worn to the comfortable voice of Wogan and delight when he read out my poem, Saturday evenings with sausage and mash watching The Two Ronnies and ‘four candles’ learnt off by heart. Then leaving home, dancing on a table in a Liverpool club, watching Pete Burns spin through the fug of late night neons, before the taxi to my digs back out of town. And much later, the home town chattering with a mate obsessed with Prince, how I helped her to start up her band that came to nothing and their home, which smelt of great dane and cigarettes, in the years before my husband came along. And when he did, when we danced to George at our reception, when I swished and he smiled, when we watched Carrie in the multiplex with our best man, there seemed no sense of time. No thought that all these people, exaggerated in our minds through fame and internet would be so vulnerable, could be so human, as we were.

Of course, we were younger then, not scarred by loss and change, the world was still unpredictable but felt safer somehow and now and again a celebrity died, but not like now, now when it’s a weekly occurrence. Sometimes I read posts from people distraught that their idol has gone and I can say nothing. To them, in their world that’s not mine, it is overwhelming (at least for a while). In my own early grief their reaction would have outraged me but not now. Their reaction is their business, it’s their genuine view of the world, where they walk without my shoes. How shocked they are, that he or she was only 60 and yes, it’s young but then I think, they had 12 years on my husband…and then the older ones, the ones that made it to three score and ten, how it’s alright really as their innings were so good.

When you live with loss, when it’s carved out the person you’ve become, you learn many things but one thing stands out. All loss is felt at 100% whether it’s for an ancient movie legend or a pop star taken ‘too soon.’ It’s the impact of that life, the ripple effect of their talents, their stories, the real people they were to their families. And in addition to the fan’s devotion to their work, an immeasurable fact shines out, that they lived. They achieved, they failed, they fought their demons like we all do and made connections.

Grief is as unique as the relationships that created it, whether the loss is for the first crush of your youth, the poster on your wall, or the actor who’s films you never missed, or your husband – the person you planned to spend the rest of your life with. All life is precious. There’s no half way house with grief, it’s the whole relationship to be looked at, to be mourned along with layers of secondary losses. And these frequent deaths this year throw spotlights on our own pain with a reminding terror of the raw, illuminated in a stark white light by Debbie Reynolds running to catch up with her girl.

It was this time of year, another lifetime ago, that I found out I was pregnant. The joy of knowing new life beat and pulsed inside me was a feeling like no other, bringing another soul into this world, into this time based place where everything is temporary. And now as this turbulent year closes, as more people prepare to mourn, to dress for funerals at the opposite end of life, it seems to underline one thing. Famous or not, infamous or invisible we all have an impact on each other with the skills we bring, with the talents that we share. So share them well, find your bliss and know it, make a difference while you can. We’re not all posters on someone’s wall but we all matter, we’re all fragile in the storm.

I’ve lost count of the number of deaths this year, the tweeted ones and the nameless ones but each life was a universe in itself, each an individual with such impact on others. This cultural hacking away, this chipping out of the pieces of my life reminds me of our vulnerability and our transience in this world.

Time will catch us all in the end.

Be good to each other. Be kind. We have such responsibility, such potential to enrich each other’s lives.

With love.

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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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February 15th 2014

As we float out again, me and our son, into these familiar waters, I see how we’ve learned to sail. It’s odd, the skills you learn when there is no choice, nothing but to hold onto the rails, to feel the rope burn in your palm, the saltwater bite your skin and your sea legs gaining strength because they have to.

It’s raining, it seems to have rained forever, as though the thought of sun on your face was a chink of memory from someone else’s life. But this grey ocean is known and understood, somehow the whip of wind is no problem, these gales can only hurl us as we steam out of port again. The salt scrubs our face and stings our eyes but we keep going. Our leathered skin maps our journey, shields us in the storm. We tap the compass, watch the needle twitch, looking back over our log book now that we are sailors.

October 9th 2013

I look out from my lump of carbon through the condensation, dripping white worlds upside down and watch the steady smiles peel down the window. Though my feet feel carpet I’m not here, I’m three years ago up high on our deck, I stand by the outlet pipe with our son and we squeal as the blasts push around us. My scarf and hair compete for position till we find seats in the warmth and watch the people and land get smaller. I remember standing down at Weston or was it Woolston in the years before we slowed and we perched on the edge of the jetty waving at the ships leaving home. And later or maybe earlier, leaning up a barrier in the skirt that doesn’t fit me now and my favourite white top, clutching my sunhat in the breeze, smiling into the lens with Enchantment or was it Independance behind us and we raced up by the old sheds, parallel with the water, bombing it in the Orion to catch one last glimpse of the beast.

But I’m back on board now, excited and scared with unknown storms ahead of us. I see us wandering, working things out, testing ourselves in our new glistening place. I’m there in the cold, in the anticipation, in the promise of the waves ahead while I sit behind these steamed up windows in a room where the floor keeps still.

And further underneath it all, I travel to my start, the first day with our son on my own, when all the help had gone. Proud of myself, washed and dressed before the midwife arrived though it rarely happened again and I positioned his kit on the bed armed with all equipment, playing solitaire around his needs. I learned to change a nappy kneeling into the bedside, him kicking springing legs on top because I couldn’t bend to the floor and my days and nights merged into an inching journey, in that room, by those curtains from this day and ever outwards. And I feel his soft new warmth, his smells and dribble, a comfort of heaviness in my hand and an ache I grew to live with.

And I live with different pain now,
moving things around to meet our needs, focussed on the job, the path ahead. I’m layered, waiting for the doorbell of the midwife, as I lean up railings looking out at blue and wherever I am, I am travelling, my luggage changing shape while I heave it alongside with us, muscles straining, strengthening in the weight.

We pull out of port,
the midwife turns up.
I need a drink in the present.
I brush the hair from out of my eyes across these three realities.

Plaited journeys – on my path.
xxx

Thursday October 10th

The light throws out strong contrasts today, the shadows are long and stretched in the low bright sun. I make shapes in the condensation till it liquifies the image out there. The tree ripples and drips, distorted in front of me like the shattering of its temporal signature.

I remain fragmented myself, back in an early visit, Mahler and the Celestine Prophesy on the day I took photos that didn’t come out.
I go outside now, called by a strangeness in the tree, I can’t make it out with the light and my eyes but I find it to be an odd clump of turned leaves, crisped and auburn amongst the green. I investigate its dryness, not quite brittle but almost, as I’m sandwiched between heat on my back and a biting breeze in my face.

Back inside the ancient timelines in a room where the bookcase was stronger, years before its current lean, I wander around watching her while this day is outrageous in bright with leaves twirling into windscreens, crumbling and dancing with no thought.
A shimmer of space time and I’m nearer to now, that grey heavy black morning, Voyager on TV and I’m rushing in a coat too big for me now.

And I drift on the air blown in and out of my places, curled and orange in the passage of time, my shape holding true despite elements as I am carried by the day and the season, leaves of moments, crunched loud colours, from the forests in my head.

The creases in the sycamore spore mirror the waves in my fingerprint. I hold it up in these unforgiving rays. Something cheeps over my shoulder like a creaking door as we leave your shack, packed up and heading out to plough new fields.

And in the distant fields I see from now the whirligigs twiddle and twirl, spinning silent circles at the edge of my view.

xxx

October 12th

I remember this day in Nice after the breakfast fiasco and the stressed rush to Cannes We stood high up on the curved road, looking down on white, bleached walls reflecting us in heat, markets that led to Matisse’s place and a beach, wide stark and alien. And while I tap the sand from my new trainers I feel me sitting by the bed on a Saturday evening in a different world, days and dates doing their thing and I leave them to it while I wash up by hand.
A novelty, like years ago when I stood by the sink, son roped in, in pushchair and me proud and resplendent in marigolds and suds as I’d managed to take my own weight on what remained of my back, for the first time in the strange land of motherhood.
I see the old dishwasher, that belonged to Mrs Mouse, that you started up while I looked after our son, and we got used to its clunks and forgot how to use bowls of water. Though you never really liked washing up bowls, too scanky underneath and I didn’t like a full sink, snorkelling for the plug through the debris of our meals.
And now this bit of back then has broken and I clean round in preparation for men, tomorrow’s job of welcoming something new and shiny into this changing place.
I remember leaving your early cave, at the start when you were at work and my mid morning trips home on Mondays. Tidying round everywhere but the kitchen, leaving jokes in the lounge while the dishes piled high
and tommorow I’ll pile them here in polar white, the old things, the chipped things and our son’s best Star Trek mug.

October 20th

I find the photo of our son in a sombrero, dates shouting out and the last frame I bought which clashed with the colours, in these old rooms with the smell of encyclopaedias, the preserved smell of childhood, the ancient book from his Great Grandad
presented eons ago in a different world before engines had grunt or TV on demand, from a slower, stranger time than my strange world now.
He can almost lift me now, growing solid, sinewed, with strength to come and the trees are heating up now in this late autumn sun, flaring Spanish colours as we pass by and somewhere on a distant sea of pitching waves we sway home, tired, travelled, bagged up washing and memories, sailing into new water, in our way with gifts yet to open, in the dregs of a journey, in the preface of the journey to come.

Xxx

P.S
You know what it’s like when you travel – you always over compensate, take too much, forget something else. Lug heavy cases around full of ‘just incases’ and wherever you go, you find you had enough anyway. We pack with great care. The anchor is heavy but we can lift it, steering out with wind through our hair. We plot a new course and head out.

x

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