Perhaps I should explain some more. In those times hidden from you, in among those day to days, it is not just the depths and the darkness you do not see. I am thinking more about the mundane, the everyday, the joyful, the beautiful. I will try to describe so you can see what I mean. Perhaps then you will feel differently, think differently, about me, about who I am, about what I am.
It is a Sunday. I’ve been at work most of the day, it’s been busy and I’m on a bit of a high from all the talking and the dealing and the selling, from the blue sky and the warm air as I walk back up the hill to my car. I call Peter to arrange to meet in the pub on my way home, “just for one” I say, “we won’t stop long”. Five hours later we leave amongst laughter and faux recriminations that I am a wrong-un, that I lead people astray. Tinker and Thomas hug me tight, Thomas hugs Peter too. We have covered all sorts throughout the evening. Brexit, masturbation, Camus, the Universe, racing pigeons, railways, death. Thomas is a huge man, a man mountain. His eyes are very very blue. “You’re obsessed wi’ death” he says. “Or , more like wi’ age, wi’ mortality”. He’s seen through a part of me tonight with his bluest of eyes. And in that moment, in a northern pub, propped at a northern bar full of rich men and working men and old men and poor men and farming men I suddenly feel lost and yet wonderful and I realise that I am the only girl in here and I like being the only girl and I know that yes, I am still running away, always running from something.
I feel like shit. That’s it I swear to myself, I’m never drinking again. And even as I swear to myself I know that I’m a fraud.
I follow up on a house call. In a small house in a grim town there is a life to be emptied and sorted; to be sold, to be binned. The actual end after the mortal end. There were no children to leave things to, just an estate to be sold the proceeds of which will go to kindly neighbours and distant friends. In a dusty bedroom stacked with half used medicines, walking frames, naff John Wayne figurines and unopened packets of incontinence pads, I begin to cry. Her name was Sylvia and this is how her life ended. In these four walls, surrounded with these items. This is the physical sum of a life lived. Nobody wants the photograph albums. There are stacks of them, each one is lovingly documented on the back in a neat and sensible hand. 1972 -Norman , Grand Canyon. 1974 -Norman, Fort William. Year after year they visited the Land of the Free. Picture after picture of Norman in his stetson, Norman at a diner, Norman in New York, Norman on Sunset Boulevard. Sylvia sits uncomfortably in a few, decidedly English in her frumpy floral dresses, handbag clutched tightly to her breast. Decades of holiday snaps which are now destined for the nearest public dump. And I wonder, why do we – they – us bother? What really is the point. I am just another mote in a dusty bedroom, in this crappy house, with the pathetic yet profound realisation that we are all essentially nothing, that we are meaningless entities or at best sudden, brief sparks from some ancient fire. That if we’re lucky we experience an intense blazing and then burn to nothing. And so what really is the fucking point ? And then, contrary to the very end, I dry my eyes, stuff heavy-duty bin liners with a lifetime of photographs and crack on – does there have to be a point? In defiance of myself I rage that we make our own points and reasons.
In the grey half light with the slightest hum of traffic in the distance, Peter curls behind me. His cock is hard against my thighs. I have been awake for a while, a little lost in contemplation but today already feels that it could be, it will be, a good day. It would be foolish to hope that in a relationship that has lasted over half my lifetime, sex will always be completely abandoned, uncomplicated and stand alone. But there is a form of liberation and comfort in what is essentially familiarity. His skin smells like home. And anyway, perhaps that is my greatest struggle – to take, to make excitement from what I know so well, from what I know I already have.There is no fight for his acceptance, for his love, for his desire because he gives it me all, freely, openly and without obligation. My own inconstancy reflects my warrior leanings, and with a need for glory I am surely destined for disappointment because everything pales after the rush of battle. There is always magic in the new. The real skill is to find magic in the everyday. I push back against him.
My muscles ache and I have stretched in ways I never thought I could. I can take a perfect joy in that. To revel in oneself as a physical being alone, with no thought for anything other than breath and movement is a beautiful thing.
Another impromptu meet in the pub. We greet each other with a conspiratorial joviality. I can play this game so well, it is second nature, perhaps it is my nature. And so another night of alcoholic liberation. Tinker assesses me like he would his livestock – firm legs, a good breast and I soak it all up and watch as my presence delights him. We are all part of a happy game. But even with talk of politics, literature and the very nature of existence, it’s all essentially surface stuff. For after all, in a pub, in a bar, amongst strangers, companions or friends, who really wants to address, who can address what it all means, what it all comes down to ? I can spread my little knowledge, my tiny intellect a long way and from a young age I learnt that it is a form of self preservation to never quite let on. Always the consummate funambulist I am a mistress of deception. After all, wouldn’t it be madness to reveal the full extent of what you want, what you are., what you really think?
I feel like shit. I have been here before.
And although these days follow no real chronological order, they do form part of the truth, the where’s and the why for’s, the darkness and the lightness. They stand alone as days and events that have really happened. They are part of my story and part of the truth. You always said I played fast and loose with time and while my memory is challenged by order, it is not challenged by sense or observation, and so details etch themselves on my mind as real as any wound or ink tattoo. That said, the details may be fixed but my mind and my heart change with the wind; what feels so sweet one day could well taste as sour as misery the next.