Archives for posts with tag: transitions


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On a much earlier part of my timeline our son had a remote controlled car and he took it out into the road by our garage and he played and he jumped and he fell. The movement of the vehicle tripped him up, unexpected and sudden. I was in the lounge, I heard him cry and I was there,  you know, like you are when half of your genetic material is entwined and buzzing in another’s form and I held and wiped the tears. It’s what you do.

Sometimes I wonder how much of the joy of repair is in the fact that you can do something to help, that although it appears outwards and all for the other’s sake, that on some level it is for yourself. In the act of wiping tissues around the smallest of noses you are soothed yourself, not just because you take their pain away but because you yourself are soothed by the act of being useful.

We spent many years with a background of usefulness under the sound of peeping engines. The Fat Controller ran an efficient yard and we lived and loved through a variety of scares and disasters but somehow it was always resolved by a Really Useful Engine within the hour or even under ten minutes in the early morning breakfast pre school slots and they were part of our world.

In games and often in life I became Mummy Fat Controller because I made most of the decisions around him and when behaviour needed railing in I would put on my best yorkshire accent and pull him to the sidelines and resolve the situation, kneeling by his side with my virtual top hat and words. We had our favourite engines, he would be Thomas and I would be Percy unless we passed on the stairs. In this precarious manoever we moved up a gear to his guise as Murdoch on the down line which,  in turn, made me Spencer on the up line and we peeped to each other and we chuffed in our days.

The wooden replicas have dust on them now, although the odd one can be found, as I did the other day, lost behind a photo frame, a frozen shot of me in my wedding dress, taken just before the reception when friends and family peered out of the windows while I twirled and smiled, and they waited for the photos to finish and they waited for their food. They watched us from the sidelines, observers of our land.

Now this ancient picture masks the old train shunted behind it and I picked it up the other day, a random plastic version with a turning knob on the side. I turned the knob and the wheels whirred for a while, relieved to have purpose after years of being caked in time and they span for a moment and then stopped, clogged up and chocked with dust. The familiar sound of motion, the background radiation of our world.
I put it back behind the photo. The wooden ones live out of sight, a stored story in the waiting, packaged up, narratives for grandchildren down the line.

And I look out. The leaves have all gone from the tree outside our window. The berries are bright almost orange like Murdoch, almost vermillion like James, hundreds of tiny red engines waiting for the beaks to come, to pluck them from the rain.

And I look back.

I think about our home, the first one not far from here and the way I ran to his derailment and the warmth of holding him close, the plasters, the soothing biscuits and the role.
The commitment of being the balm to another, of having purpose and being able to heal. And my wounds are aching, it’s easy to get stones in these old cuts, easy to feel them rub and scrape along the scars and I dab.

I treat my own injuries and I crave. I crave the scrub of the carpet when the hardest thing about the day was the build of the track, when we puzzled over making the pieces fit. And now I sit here, desperate to make his pieces fit, needing to help him build his route. Our derailment, a constant in our narrative and all I want is to scoop him up but I can’t, I want to brush away the gravel and all it would take to stop the tears would be a warm drink and a hug. And my comfort in the primal need to sooth it, to wrap around him and to take away the pain.

But I have no plasters now. The autumn winds blow around the wounds, the train is on its side behind the photo and we make new tracks. Our scar tissue turns to steel as we construct, like when I used to kneel beside him.

And in this autumn, calling winter –

I still do.

xxximage

 

 

 

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And now Key Stage 4 scoops up the child we knew into the confident teenager he’s becoming. Armed with fresh hormones and a barber’s shop cut and he’s off again, polished up to take on the new timetable with a refuelled sense of what lies ahead. And in all the change I see that nothing changes, that the permanence sits below the shifting patterns, the threads that bind us tight. And we move and we grow and the deeper things remain.

New bags and a brushed up resolve. Our son, heading out on the next part of the journey. The keratin in his hair catching the early morning light.

Ps

July 1st
Long ago in a distant land when our son was first learning language, we started to name all the animals. His expanding repertoire included a selection from the farmyard:  Le Ma (sheep), Le Mei (cat), Da Woof (self-explanatory) and Le Moo (ditto). We never understood where the Frenchness came from but like all things it was a transitory phase. Wild animals were also covered with a particular favourite being an elephant or ‘A Twunk’ as he would say, swinging both arms as the two trunked creature stomped around the lounge and of course there was the lion. A-Wor, loud and fierce prowling the kitchen for the next biscuit or two.

Years and worlds later he has gone back to school tonight to see the evening production of The Lion King. His best friend is playing the young lion cub and I wonder how that will be. Watching James act out the rights of passage that our son has had to live through.

We had both wanted to go. In the old world I almost lived at school, helping out here and there, in class supporting, Governoring and Chairing, more assemblies than I can remember and any production going. At Primary I would not only have been there, I’d probably have run up a few lion costumes in the process.
But by last week there were no tickets left.

This afternoon he announced that Phoebe didn’t want to go and that she’d offered him her ticket… so with an earlier tea and tightly squeezed in home work, he decided to go by himself.

The temperature is cooling now, though I wonder how hot it is in the hall, I wonder where he’s sitting and if he’s buzzing with some friends.
We had a brief talk before he left and then he strode off wearing his new top looking older, with a swagger that comes from pushing boundaries and testing out his worlds and I’m sat here, quiet in the echoed scent of underarm spray with his discarded comb on the chair, wrestling with a foreshadowing of the empty nest to come. A lounge packed with the prowl of conflicting emotions.

I like to believe we’re ageing well, me with my deserting hormones, mellowing into my new roles and our son, sat there now, not here on the Pc but there, on the plastic chairs under lights with his mates. I hope he’s found some familiar faces to sit by, not just surrounded by whole families sat together. I hope his face is turned upwards towards the stage, glowing in the heat, projected colours reflected off his changing contours, eyes watching James as he roars.

Our son, striding forwards, his mane brushed back from his forehead, stretching out, growing strong towards the light.
In his best shirt, without me.
Finding new lands, our heir taking it all on – and he roars.

An end of hot-day-fly hums around the house. The trees brush rustle against the sky with the hope of a storm to break the heat.

I wander to the kitchen for some earl grey.
It’s quiet – I’m surrounded by lions.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

becoming.

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

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

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

Doing it.
x

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

x

P.s
Playback

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

x

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Been Looking back over words written months ago when our son made a trip to Southampton and later when we passed through again, together, in a time machine and the images fragment and crackle with who we used to be and it’s all here, in these words from that town. The town that started my journey to here…

Last summer

I’m in our old places, in a new way and head down, tapping, full on avoidance. Can’t see the trees, hide from the ponies and moments. And I hear our son’s voice still with his young idiosyncracies that take me back to our Sundays before school. And the car park’s familiar but I have to do it, glance up quick, then head down from the roaming animals and I ignore the swerve of the roads, trying hard not to and think where we are, I can’t be in any of it at all.
I stay quietly tapping, hurting in silence, aiming but losing the moment, while I’m back at our first ever Sunday. Ice creams from the tiny shop, dressed in red, trying to find the bin, teeming river and the current cattle grid shakes my presence and I’m tired of memory. Sun crashes through, the suspension rattles me and I’m lost in the trees somewhere.

I feel blown by the day, sleepy and crushed. Can’t find the image for the thought but it’s close to a broken cobweb, holed and stretched, at the mercy of the weather, stale prey, cocooned limp hanging. And while I’m spinning in sticky thread, a flash of rain crackles the light and we crawl through under the bridge of colours, bringing hope by the dismal tower block.

Same morning – earlier

Back at the bench it’s cold and I feel strange. Just left him kitted out, off to Southampton for time in the world that he’ll grow into and I feel odd but ok. He’s as prepared as me and I can’t see much beyond the rooves, the sky hangs thick and low as I go back eighteen years to my own careful packing for the first trip south and our conversations move around me in the wind. The horizon blurs purple, the spring flowers pushing higher as I drift forwards and back to the forest, the first glimpse of ponies and the laughter of a townie running out of bounds.
I’m knitting it together, his presence of challenges unmet and a world we’re stepping into, with my tentative steps back then. This all belongs to someone else, someone I used to know. I need to unravel this carefully, think I’m too much in the present to look at the past but it will come, as the hall fills with suitcases and they wait for the coach.

I took the train south, was it really that long ago? And you showed me your town and the places I’d come to know.
Familiar haunts on Saturday mornings, crossing over the water for baguettes,
carefully filled bread, in the cafe that never had enough seats and we’d sit in the front, watching people, opposite the shop we bought the rocking chair from, a couple of years later, before the stool got stained by family and life.

And Waterstones after, ending up at the camera shop and evenings on the edge, at the Frog and Frigate and stories and tales of the land before. Before I crossed over into permanence and your friend came back from sea. And we felt the force around us and I can feel his excitement as the coach pulls up now, as I boarded the train back then and he’s going to test out the waters, near our country park. And as it starts for him I see us racing back up the long smooth road, cutting angles off the roundabouts as we hurried to make my connection on time.

And I did and I came back again, became a local girl, a platform regular, until the habit became away of life. And he’s bundled up with all he needs for now, all shiny and new with extra chocolatey bits on top but sepia stained for me, dog eared and torn with love.
And as he burbles from the coach, I go back to all our moments, visits and integration, the things to tolerate, the things I came to own and we’re freezing on Western shore, standing guard in the playground, in the dark, waiting for the ship to come in, peeled back layers of a time before it was our turn and they stood and waved at us.

And forest teas with the Midwich cuckoos, when he wasn’t allowed to touch toys, to buying essential nonsense from the tinkling hippy shop, magpie-ing my way around ephemera, through the incensed air, in the chromed up glossy mall, the one we revisited that last Christmas, when the Apple store hummed helpfully as your watch repair went wrong.
And I flip back and round like the waltzer our son hated, memories blurring as the colours of our years bleed into each other and I’m sick with the intensity and my head spins till I heave it out.

And it keeps coming at me, Portsmouth road on the bus, passed the Cod Plaice, while you worked, around the complex island, enjoying my freedom of feeling new and the eagerness of the short lived perfumed job and I can smell their shallowness and see me by the busy road, flat shoes, achy feet with discarded heels banging in a plastic bag. And I was so young, so improbably young, and I hear our quotes at Dad’s party, the day we mapped out the future.

And I remember Buffalo Bills, with our friend and his friends, meals with Nelson and his funny little ways, shining talk and us, full of stories from New York and the walls were plastered with film memorabilia and the toilet was a jungle. And I wore my favourite t-shirt, rushing past the Mayflower on the right, when I wore the black shoes with jeans and we parked round the back somewhere. And I was driven passed it recently, think it’s a coffee bar now or was it the place next door, boarded up, out of time?

And it continues, all the places from when we drove around, you showing us where you used to live, when you first moved down and how you’d gone to find digs, walking for miles, coping with a broken arm to accidental biking by the QE2.

And on and up to the Cowherds, stuffed with roasts, by the park up the avenue, where we watched the balloon festival, chasing the Desiderata song.

And sometime later driving by containers and freight, just like we did back then. That first trip, when the car was full of us and the gardener’s children and he told us the trip was ‘pregnant with possibilities’ to wind us up, like he always did.
And I see the shiny buildings, chromed up high to the air, where I got a job that I didn’t take because we moved and chuffed up the motorway.

And some time after, I saw our journey north, into the sun, leaving there for the new home. And as we skirted it’s edge I looked carefully right, past the cut through that you showed me, by the car park where I crunched gears and the bus stop that released me on the road to Hamble.

It was all there, like a film set, soft focussed and it happened and it didn’t. And I stared through it all, at the sun beating off the leaves, in a courtyard garden, near to where we used to live, in a world away, in times gone by, in a distance place, in another land before.
Beyond the now and up the hill, like your pick ups from St Marys with the red and white eyes lighting up out of the greyness and it’s all still there just around,
just beneath,
just existing, in it’s own plane, safe and untroubled from this reality.

And I need to leave this for a while and come back to the present and see how it jigsaws together, me then, him now, knotting the images, tying them tightly, harnessed securely in past and present. Someone I used to know, someone I used to be and her ways and their words, feeding into who I am.

Now.

Right now,
in this moment,
in this world, with these challenges, with this love, with these layers, with this knowledge, with this truth.

In this reality.

Now.

xxx

Ps

Sun setting over my merlot, ruby light pierced raspberry. Blood rich shards dance out, splintering pink into my room. I’ve travelled today, through years and space, pain and growth and memory. I’m disengaged now, displaced, confused. Carrying heavy, vivid luggage with me, till I can place it down again somewhere, somewhere safe and protected. For now I’m in it, wrapped up totally and lost, feeling who I used to be with love from who I’ve become.

x

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Watching it all, the white light, sun dot in a bead of condensation, the day shimmering on the winter branch outside, circles of diamonds left by my finger traces, a mist of micro spheres, packed together creating fog on my window, strings of world seeping through the drips, an invisible cage widening, thaw by thaw with the climbing brightness, the morning wet on everything.

I open the window to let the day in, the fresh winter cool waking up my skin, in the distance the flood of photons brush open new hills, the cottage down in the dip gets up steam, white washed, shaded blue from this angle. It’s boiler working deep inside, converting coal to energy, soft curled spits and twirls climb on the breeze, blurred pencil lines draw up and away from the roof under the gentle ebb and flow of our son’s dream filled breath.
 
Another year, another day, another moment.

Round we go again x

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Sat waiting for some new furniture in my oddly tidy lounge. Yesterday made a few changes with the help of our son and cries of ‘oh I love this’ and ‘so that’s where it went’. And we moved and cleaned and sorted around and about the coffee table with it’s scratches and stains of our life, the faded deep pink from the coaster that bled, the one we got in the fossil museum on the way back from our last trip west. And the stickers collected from the Sticker Lady, degraded by time, from all those years ago when she’d come to the door with her smile and her parcels and a sticker made it a good day for our growing toddler. And the table has been around forever, bought home to a different home, hundreds of years ago by my Dad in the the life before the life before this one. I can’t remember the tale that came with it, some old crafted story that was polished through childhood until it took root in their lounge before my slow transition and I remember it in the early morning light when you stayed before some meeting, some nonsense you’d travelled to, to put up with when the put up bed was in the lounge and the chiming clock disturbed you.

And later the table migrated with me to our tiny home of beginnings and I nested and dusted around it, crawling on the carpet, preparing and arranging as our son turned cartwheels in my tummy, when the fruit bowl was the basket from your Mum and the coasters came from Africa by way of Boscombe where we fed the ducks in the cold. And it sat pushed to the stairs with plastic protection, cornering it’s points as the crawling became clambered and finally stood and was filled with assorted animals and breadsticks, finger foods and sticky mits. Often trying to simplify but never getting very far. And it moved to the centre in the new home, baskets of stuff underneath, the Thomas flash cards from the model railway and the books, books from earlier Christmasses, Christmas lists from when it was a big event and the post it notes, forgotten then remembered that stopped me in my tracks.

And yesterday I moved around, and worked through the mess of memories, found dried out, brittle places, shifted things from the days when the week was full of visits and visitors and elbows of vicars. And afterwards when the the table was cleared, for a moment before the doorbell, to be covered in things that weren’t real, that couldn’t be happening, that filled our lounge with colour and smell, that filled our senses with horror, that stayed for a while and then went. And our new world filled it with books of What now? Of How to and Why? And lendings from friends travelling similar but different paths by my lantern, bought for me from me in the final Christmas when I loved the market and amber glass warmed my complexion in the months before I bought candles.

And now I lie here waiting for the van, listening to our son’s breathing as the sun warms up a frosty start. The light in the room has changed, from winter grey, heavy lids, hanging onto the bed to get up, to a slow thawing deep blue, angling soft shapes on my wall. Downstairs the tidyness waits for a new shape, somehow both necessary and contingent, like your favourite concepts and it will take quite a while to own it, to make it ours but we will. And it’s similar but different with a deep dark place to hide things away, to cover over when it’s not time or safe to show, to fill it’s heart with the things that matter and only certain people will see inside, will know what lies within it’s old carved wooden sides, it’s secret places of pain and beauty, cleverly constructed to serve it’s purpose, to continue the role. Bought from a faraway land where you travelled to in the world before this one and the trees grew around you in the days before the cutting, before the shaping and forming of our special place, our new symbol, to look after and use.

A white glare of sun sits on the high glaze of my vase, it splinters out creating more light, reflecting the otherness outside my window.

I’m tired. I wait for the bell.
x

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Twelve years ago I couldn’t walk…
And this is where I came in, last year, this place and a stumbling newness of words. 
I’ve travelled through my unknown lands, a chaos, grappling through the forms. I continue to travel.
And now at 19 months from the event horizon, I drop away, unseen in a flat spin of memories.

Sept 11th 

Don’t know where this is going, lying dazed, approaching the birthday memories, the hours, images frozen outside of time. Week to go remembering my static life, my mornings dozing, finding a position without pain and your sandwiches left in the kitchen. My wooden brick tower, unstable, smooth and bright, clattered down recently with the reality of Secondary School seeping in. Opening up new areas of grief, new pain to look at, but not just now. Tidy the bricks into a pile, I’ll have another go later.

Sept 12th

My strangeness continues. Feel the tightness around my head, temples pulling. Miss the cold air, the early walks. Can’t drop him now but watch him from the window, Mrs Danvers as my Manderlay burns around me. Can’t remember if you’d watched that film now, it was on the list though, the one I’ve taken over. The book pile for me that I need to shake myself into. Stuck on the edge at the moment, decisions to take but can’t quite do it. Pulled towards it with an inescapable force but leaving it, tempting it, hanging on till last moment, before I take the steps I know I need to. Everything’s got bundled together, layers jumbled, jangling in my mind. Newness for our son, carrying his backpack of potential, just doing it because you have to, but doing it his way, our way. His birthday screeching up at me, things to do and be, someone in this time of years guise. All the things that will be done like I used to do, now same but different. And I flash to cake decorating in The Hours before the mother lost the plot and the toddler running after the car. I squeeze the phone tightly as the pressure builds in my head. It’s all coming at me today, cut up images, chopped up magazines of that world, glossy and slippy under my feet, over printed shouting fonts. Trying to tidy the thoughts but they keep falling around me and I can’t help stop and look. 
My day seems set in the 1950s, my buttoned up cardigan, shiny pearl circles, fast forwards to Mother at the sink. I’ve gone away to before the pain, playing on the big floor with the old radio by the chipped cream legs of the ironing board and the clips in my hair, oval hard plastic, pull it out of your eyes. And she has so much to do, that child to get to where I am now. I rub my forehead hard, the water drips down the side of my face as I get a text in the current moment.
Now under your light shade that I watched forever through the dark November when my back didn’t work after the place I’m building up to. The hours with our baby while you bought home the bacon. And back then, right now booked for inducing on Friday, waiting. Sitting still in the time before.

Sept 13th

Watching the light play with shapes on the curtain. Feint movements from the world outside, a broken fleck of sun draws down the side of my upvc. There’s a small distant drone under the sound of the blood in my ears. I bet the dog walkers are out en masse, I miss them, I must go back when I’m through this.
The shadow branch bounces in the obvious wind but I can’t hear it. Feel cornered like back then. Shoved into the edge of the settee, barricaded with cushions as we played Take the Brain and despite my pain induced lack of strategy, I still took you to the last piece. You beat me in the end, of course but I had a huge bag of pic ‘n’ mix to soften the moment. And now I’m up against it again but it’s a self created battle with myself. I know what I need to do but I’m still wrestling with the inevitable. Now and then waiting for the trigger, lying here in my broken clock.

Sept 14th

Watching the cursor flash as our son walks hurries down that road, think his friends were late today, he seemed to be rushing as I oversaw the process through our web covered window. He must be approaching the lights by now, just by that dark tree, that corner that I noticed as we hurried past in the Rover after early morning calls were made and I’d manoeuvred, judged and backed up somehow into the front seat. Up all night thinking today was the day and scared but focussed as we sped past School where our son will be turning left now. And the days and rooms lie ahead of me, the flock of faces at the end of the bed, the table on wheels and plastic food, the waiting, the conversations, the stabbing lack of sleep.
But in the present I have things to prepare. The familiar film runs in the background, know it so well. I flit in and out of it, looking at me, at us, seeing the pain but not quite feeling it. 
My head aches with this new phase, a mashed slop of messy memories stuck on the end of my spinning wheel. Pullling and easing, stripping and smoothing them through the contraption, weaving and binding them into a shawl for our baby. To wrap him up in it’s stories, swaddled in the narrative of who we’ve become. Right now I can’t move for wool, spiky, smelly, stuck up with bits of bark, too many shards to pull out before it becomes yarn. I’ll just stop, lie in it, feel it’s harshness, comforting in it’s complexity. I have little energy to weave, now as then, hanging on, driven by a primal force, to protect and nurture. Clinging on to see the job through to the end.

Sept 15th

Flipping between two hospitals, metres and years and lives apart. Inextricably there, day two, room three, ceilings and sounds stretching out, trapped down the wrong end of the telescope with disembodied feelings, detached above the beigeness. 
And 19 months ago. A dripping unreality, the inked in names on the bedding, the startling bright blue curtain on chrome, altered waiting. Baby pink crisp cotton of then immobilised in hope, wrapped around This Other, a terror of waiting. Lost in my little room, inching fingers through the days.   

Sept 16th

We tried to get a signal in the bathroom, up by the frosted window with the wire mesh crosshatched through it and I leaned up the wall near the end of my strength. Day three, weekend staff change, round we go again, more explaining and the night was wrung out like the day ahead, pitiful, minute moments peeling my resistance.
I lie flat now in the way I couldn’t then, so much to do today, prepare for tomorrow. for me and our son. Must shake off the imagery, turn it down and come back to the present. I look up and away, staring through the ceiling, my head thunders, storming layers of time.

Sept 17th

Don’t know where I am. Yesterdays hopes faded with the day easing me under the arms into their toffee vinyl chair. Sleep was a delusion in that empty hard cocoon, desperate, dependent, clinging to the Dawn. And you, helpful, helpless, riding alongside. The faces, decisions, bluster round my stillness and on my present bed I feel the instinct to sustain, in those grey isolations, a purpose carrying me through pain. 
And flip back now, it’s all in place, a newness tonight, a birthing out into another world. The Eve of something, then and now.

Sept 18th

And I’m slap bang back in it all, my drugged up whole five hours of sleep and I’m wired and I’m waiting. And you’re there in green and blue as our son walks now, to school, with his cough and rustled sweets for the masses. And my head drones on with last night while faces from that room back there hover and plan their campaign. Johnny V pops in the frame, do you remember him with his too black hair, his smoothness, his words and his news? Tucked, miles away in the corner of the room, tinkering, as I began my assault of the day. To the faceless cold hard hostile team I tried to haul my granite, lost deep inside, lying on my side with your fear as they chiseled into the mortar.
And my head beats with the tension between here and there, a whiteness, walls that come and go, a forced angle not fit for my spine. And before the fading takes over I smash myself up by The Other bed, as the other pain calls out and I don’t know which way is up anymore.
And in two different rooms, light-years apart, in both I fade into the loss. 

Numb.
And the hours stretched across the room, my stubborn strength till shove came to push. My early evening end game. Checkmate arrived with the hands of the clock, your words at my weak jokes. And the ceiling changed for the last time. My carefully taped tape, whale calling out through different lights. 
And the sounds and the colours. And the feelings and the heat.

Until, until

The moment, our moment
The holding, the look. 
The love.

Sept 19th

Twelve years ago.
Immobile. Breathing. Each breath for our son through six days that carved me into someone else. 

Until. 

The Second Carving. Six days that live with me in my void, just over there, on my shoulder. 
Both moments frozen in perfect pain, crystallised, distorted, bright and eager, hanging there, known and needed. I drop through my wormholes, flash flick into them, beyond time and space to my unwrapped evolution.

Two moments of permanence, happening now and a lifetime ago. Arcing over me, pulsing from me, feeding my identity, sustaining my growth.

A circle of pain, freezing me, forming me.

My parallel journeys merge into one through love.

This gift of pain
Then and now 
Being and becoming

Holding him. Still holding on,

as I walk.

X

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1st September

12 years on from when I was due to give birth he unpacks the plastic bags and crunchy cellophane, clambers into the new clothes and shrinks and grows at the bottom of the stairs. Everything has room for change and I manage the feelings until the look is completed, as he sits on the bottom step and shove stomps his foot into new leather, just like you used to. He sits bundled up wearing rucksack as we test ourselves out, tiptoe through some honesty and hug in a crumpled sharp creased moment until he says he’s hungry.
I need to iron in the words like I did the first time, back in the old house in the old world in a pain that seems quite simple now.
Right now I just want to play and bake and not think ahead and we’d all have our chat together reminding him what’s important but now I do both parts. I’ll get the ironing board out in a while, he’s bought down a collection of Bionicles, I need to sit on the floor and find us in the battered box.

8.15, 4th September

He left slightly early wrapped and ready and everything said, with our special trick that only we know about, prepared and firmly in place. And he bundled off looking left and right and I snatched one last photo as he strode off on his path. I stood my post at the bedside where you put your shoes on but it was his own shiny black that reflected our world today.
And while they trudge in unison, nattering with excitement and nerves, prepared and unprepared for the road ahead, I look out of our window at the quiet dark path. He didn’t pause today, much too smart for the tree swing. I can see an early autumn flower from here or maybe it’s leaves shifting colour. I’ll have to walk down there and check. Everything looks heavy, milky grey sky, looks like rain but it’s not happening.

Probably halfway now, I wonder if he told them the joke? The one he rehearsed last night while we chatted and I tried to sneak in a few extra bits of bolstering for today. We’ve done enough, both of us, somehow. It’s all there, the groundwork, the understanding, the careful words chosen, the words left unsaid but felt at the deepest level.
If I stay here for a while I might see the primary dribs and drabs of faces that I knew. Such a loud stillness, a contrast to my old hurried pattern, my old shapes, an energy of movement.
Leaving now, I’ll carry the bottle and panniered p.e kits when necessary. September was always for reflection, a change of pace, a re-grouping. Marking time and feeling the momentum and that odd combination of familiarity and apprehension, everything the same but different. Same colours different sizes, sharpened pencils, new lunchbox, crumb free corners for a while. Catching up with old faces and noting the reinvention, the fresh haircuts and glossy dyed strands of new look teachers.

He’ll be there soon. I miss the change in energy, the stretched elastic at classroom room door, the last chance words, the look. The turning away and walk back, noting more in the silence or the footsteps of friends whisking me to somewhere else. I won’t see them today, any of them or that life. That’s not my world now.
The elastic is stronger, deeper, wider and is at full stretch as he will be amongst a swarm of controlled chaos feeling everything with enough inside to make it so.

I feel strange, odd, like I’ve forgotten something, or I should be somewhere else. I’m quietly calm and then a friend texts. My rock, who made the transition through the worlds with me. And she remembers me today and she imagines where I am. I push salt water around my face and reach for the box again.
I’ve moved to his room now where I perched on the edge of the bed on that sharp flurescent morning. When he got up quickly and sat on the stairs while the winter air chilled my pale unwashed face. And now I’m here with the collection, the pieces of a childhood and My First Bunny whose been with us since he was three months old. He looks how I feel, unravelled by hours and love battered, nap scrubbed up the wrong way, pink threaded nose rubbed brown with time. Smart white collar, frayed and rough, grey and bent. A tear drips down my nose and bounces of the back off his head. I push it into plush and feel the softeness that remains. There’s a tiny hole somewhere in the ear but I can’t find it now, the back of the ears are a finer fabric, gentle velvety, a smooth chocolate to the touch. I remember when we first opened it, bought by Carol and Gary, they moved to Wales didn’t they? she knitted me a beautiful white shawl and came round when your Mum was here, and our son was loud and pink and smelly and I couldn’t stand up. And in the Christmas video, my voice, happy and tired, laughing as he grabbed it the wrong way up and shoved it’s foot in his mouth. And the label. Labels always held such fascination and I study it now, easing me round the dial of the clock.

He’ll know his tutor group by now as I hear our years and hours playing out over the pain and it’s like a well loved film, quoting it back to front, upside down. Freeze framed loops of a life lived elsewhere, that runs in my head all the time. The noise, the colours, the laughter, the words of an earlier space while I’m stuck at the moment, pressing replay in the toy cupboard of my mind. It all seems so raw like a time travel to back there. I’ve popped out of a rabbit hole and landed in that life and I can observe and feel it but I can’t interact, I can’t make any changes, I can only watch and be.

I’m coming back into the present, a puzzle ball rattles behind me, a horse lies sideways across the bonnet of a car, spy equipment discarded on the carpet, espionage dealt with for now. And all around, surrounded by Lego, favourite then and now, his pedanticness, his attention to detail,
his ability to built, to construct, to make something beautiful from a box of bits. Something fit for purpose, clever, intricate, doing the job it was designed for.

Our son, always a builder, always a plan. Building again right now, just out of sight, just out of earshot, with all the love and the things that we gave him. One brick at a time, solid foundations, a new structure that we can’t see yet.

Constructing in new colours.

He pulls down his top with a sharp tug, we know why.

Back at the front of the house the sun is doing it’s best, it catches the edge of a back windscreen. A sharp line of white breaks through the dust.

I put the toys down.
I’m tired now, need a hot drink.
X

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