I have most of my thoughts while doing something else. Usually something that I should be concentrating on really. I have on occasion got out of the shower, lost in thought, only to discover I accidentally forgot to wash my hair (one of my main reasons for being in the shower to start with). Earlier I had a really interesting thought while making tea and coffee. I was staring out of the window at the rampaging ragwort, and stirring tea, and I had this thought, such an interesting thought. But then I was distracted by the hungry people in the house and lost track of the thought. It has since been irritating me beyond measure as I can’t remember what it was that I was thinking about. I’m pretty sure it was a really interesting and amusing thought, but no, it’s completely gone. My brain is vacant.
I’m showering with the window open again, despite the chill.
It’s one of those summer mornings where the sun hasn’t got going yet. The kind of day that saw me as a child stood at a bus stop for a day out dressed in shorts and a jumper in a strange mix of optimism and realism. Cold legs shivering but with the desperate hope that later I’d be glad.
There’s a sheep staring at me while I shower, eyes meeting mine as I contemplate the brightness on the hill. Of course it probably can’t even see me – it’s eyes are looking across half a field and a garden to see me through the crack of a small window. But nonetheless it does seem to stare right at me.
Eyes closed while washing my hair I’m considering how far away the sheep is – perhaps a hundred yards? But I can’t visualise a yard. All I can think of is a little rhyme my dad must have taught me: “a metre measures three foot three, it’s longer than a yard you see”. Not really all that helpful as I can’t visualise a metre either.
Shampoo rinsed off I peer blearily at the window. The sheep has moved away and just a patch of blank hillside remains.
I am disproportionately disappointed.
I can’t write poetry. My brain is slightly addled by codeine as the pain was lingering long today. I’ve tried to assemble my thoughts but they keep running away. I am thinking of home, and how this was my home, my childhood home. Visiting is comfortable, like wearing old familiar clothes. Though things have changed round here, it’s somehow still the same, despite the extra houses and rearranged roads. I am sat here, comfortable, but my heart is elsewhere. A thread stretches out from here to there, where you are, and though I’m comfortable I feel its tug pulling at me. It’s just been a few days, but I miss you. Home is where you are. So I’ll enjoy the comfortable feeling here and the time spent with family, knowing soon I’ll be home with you. I’ll return to our little village, back from the big city, reaquaint myself with the frogs in the pond and the insects in the tall grass. And catch up with missed kisses and hold on tight.
So I moved all my blogs here, and now I’m doubting if it was a good idea. With my tired eyes staring blurrily at the screen, I sit and doubt. I doubt and sit. Stretch and wriggle my gammy leg, and doubt some more. I doubt myself and my ability to make good decisions. I doubt my ability to write or photograph or even exist. I miss the community back in the main wordpress.com fold. I miss the likes and the random arrivals who found me by accident in the reader. I miss the way it was. But change is good too. I have all my blogs in one place, I have full control over themes and CSS and everything! I am a web developer by trade, so this is good, this is very good, but was it the right decision? You there, you reading this, you were probably imported as a follower (I’m sorry I didn’t give you a choice in that) so do you like the change? Are you still there? Is anyone there? Did I do the right thing?
Sometimes when I think about the bees I get a twinge in my foot, right where I was stung. It twinged when I heard they’d come back, along with a shudder of fear right down my spine. Because that day, that day was the stuff of nightmares. Bees everywhere, a sting, and no sleep all. But they live with us now. We co-habit. We have the house. They have the soffits. I didn’t even know what a soffit was until they decided to live in it. Funny word, soffit. So there they are, unmovable, squatting in the soffit, and really, as it turns out, they’re not so bad. I still shower with the window open, bringing the countryside in despite their proximity in their soffit home. And sometime soon, when I think of the bees it will be with a smile not a twinge.
In the silence I think about the pain. I think about the days and days, so many days, since it wasn’t there. One day it wasn’t there, and then it was. And is. Still. Around about 300 days. 300 days of pain in varying amounts. Some ups. Some downs. But always pain to some degree. And there is nothing I can do. Take drugs. Do exercises. Hope. But there is nothing I can do to make it stop right now. There is no magic pill, no doctor will fix me (not bad enough to fix). Nothing I can do. Nothing. Is this who I am now? This person in pain? This person who has to find a ‘special’ chair in meetings because the posh chairs hurt? This person who limps along on bad days? Who moves uphill at snails pace, and wonky-walks back down again? Who takes more drugs than I would have ever imagined? Who is still in pain, despite them? And people offer sympathy (so gratefully received) and ideas of swimming and yoga and osteopaths. But what I need is healing of my heart. Adjustment of my mind. Not activities or manipulations (that cost too much). I need to cease this fruitless railing at the pain. Is that giving in, or just accepting the truth? 300 days of pain. 300 days of moaning. And wondering still, why me?
I am fond of bees. Correction, I was fond of bees. I like bees outside on plants and buzzing happily. I like taking photos of them about their business. I do not like them in my house, gathering in the windows and setting up home in my loft. I especially do not like them underfoot. I had never been stung before. I was a bee-sting virgin. Just that one false step and my foot descended on a sleepy bee resting on the carpet. The viscious pain caught me completely by surprise. For an instant I thought I’d simply stood on something sharp, but then it dawned as the pain spasmed through my instep. A bee. One little bee that I had failed to carefully and oh-so-gently remove from my house. A moment of sheer panic – it hurts it hurts it hurts – what do I do now? On hand a loved one with a phone to google … should I pull it out!? Yes yes yes! And then the waiting, will I react, will it stop hurting, what is going to happen? Fortunately not a lot. A lingering achey soreness, but no real damage. Apart from to my mental health … a night spent sleeplessly, anxious about bees underfoot, anxious about the possibility of a bee lingering in my daughter’s bed, her carpet, her slippers … And now I sit afar, lunch-breaking, and hoping that the news of the bees departure is the end of the story. No re-runs please.
My nose is full of custard. My head is packed with booze-soaked sponge cake. I am become trifle from this cold. This summer cold that my daughter gave me, after bemoaning her fate repeatedly. Now it’s my turn. My trifle-head may be worse than hers unfortunately, what with the drugs and all. All week my right eye has been inexplicably annoyed with my glasses. My left eye has been twitching (with surpressed rage?). Today the world is slightly slanted. If I take off my glasses the slant increases, so I put them back on in a rush. My face wants to slide down onto the desk and sleep, but I fear the cardigan-sleeve-shaped imprint on my forehead – the badge of sleepy office workers. And who might pass my corner and spot me here snoring gently. So stay open eyes, I plead, as one twitches rebelliously and the other blinks and blinks and blinks as if to flap the glasses right off me. This is the horror of my situation.
When I wasn’t me, I swam among the sharks and let them take a bite. I offered up myself, inviting teeth to pierce my flesh. Seeing sweetness in their many rows of teeth despite the blood-stains on their lips. And when they lacerated my skin again and again I conspired to make some teeth marks of my own. Compounding pain with pain till pain was all there was. I wasn’t me.
Time brought understanding of my folly. My seeking out of sharks disguised as lovers came so clear to draw out tears of hot dark shame. But turning from the deep waters led me here, to find the truest heart, hiding in plain sight. Drawing out my me-ness, till all the pain had slid into yesterday, and I was me. I was me and you were you. We are we.
I was quite old before I realised not all dads were nice dads. I thought they were all like mine – kind, gentle, funny … especially the funny. He passed his quirky sense of humour onto me and my sister, sometimes my mum seemed a little left out of our jokes.
But other dads, not so much of the funny, or the kind and gentle parts either.
On Fathers Day I think of my dad and realise how lucky I am to have him and my mum.
For others it’s not so simple and Fathers Day throws up all kinds of mixed emotions. Fathers who weren’t there, Fathers who hurt by words or fists, Fathers who were too broken themselves to deal with the needs of a child.
And even full-grown adults feel like children again wishing for that sign of approval, of connection, of love … but it never came. And it never will.
I am lucky. So very lucky.
Time flows like syrup in the heat of the day. Resting my back on the rough wood of the garden chair, I watch a blackbird pecking at the ground. In the trees, the sparrows are squabbling over peanuts and seeds as a great tit calmly pecks and pecks. The sun is too hot but I haven’t the energy to raise myself. My limbs are heavy and I don’t want to break this spell. If I move, time will rush back to it usual heady pace. Here in this moment, I can breathe.
I have no
no lustrous words
and held ready
I merely need
to string my thoughts
in paper chains
and strew them here
when nothing else will do