Leaving the apartment for an occasional foray, I have lost my intense interest in sweet food, but she is insistent that I MUST eat, I MUST be seen to have some of the patterns of day to day living, so, every few days she sends me out & now I have made a fantastic discovery.
At first I wondered if everyone I passed was also trying to listen to tiny whispered confidences, to block out the raging ,rampaging, rumbitious roar of the every day – I stared at them in some curiosity –
Who were they listening to?
What messages were being given to them?
For everyone I passed was protecting their ears with huge woolly hats & headphones – somehow I had forgotten the uniform of the young – their need to cocoon themselves in a soundtrack of their own making – so, now I go amongst them, my ears & head swaddled in fabric & outsize eared headphones – everything is diminished, muffled, distanced and my disguise has the added bonus that should I fail to answer promptly a query or comment in a shop, the assistant often repeats it, slowly & loudly as though I am a foreigner struggling to understand the local patois.
Of course, I keep the headphones on at home too, I have become hyper-aware of noise and terrifies that I might miss the commandment that will liberate me from this period of limbo.
I spend a lot of time curled into a wall, head pressed against the woodchip, rocking backwards & forwards- today for a split second, I saw myself as others might, a thinning middle aged woman, rocking, keening, mumbling to herself – there was a moment of perfect, exquisite sadness & loss and then she started to speak & I was lost again in her voice, her promises to me.
I need to write this down, to try & explain clearly what is happening – when this is all over I will be called to account & I want to tell my story – I know that I will be judged and I suspect found wanting. My whole life has been one of failing others, of not meeting some unspecified hunger in all around me.
One of my first memories is as a lumpen, plain & lumbering toddler who running to my mother after some tiny disaster, heard not the soft murmurs of comfort & affection but instead a hissed intake of badly disguised annoyance and a mumble of “why wasn’t it you – why not you instead of her?”
Whenever I walked into a room, I always felt my mothers’ eyes slide to a point just behind me, looking for someone more interesting, more desirable, simply more – but there was only ever me and her disappointment was the melody that ran through my childhood.
My long gone & in all frankness unlamented husband also used to look at me with the same slightly baffled expression whenever he saw me, a “this is not quite what I expected” gaze – he reminded me of a child who ripping the paper of a long awaited Christmas gift, finds, not the eagerly anticipated toy, but something else, something somehow wrong, something perfectly alright in itself but somehow not quite what was expected or desired.
Even the changeling, who really had little to go on in terms of what a proper mother should be – her own flesh & blood one having managed to fail at every hurdle, who should have greeted my tentative movement towards warmth & affection like a sun starved seedling, she often pushed me away, not in anger but more a world weary annoyance – “this is not quite what I am looking for – what else do you have?”
This is the way the gentleman ride – trumpy trump, trumpy trump
This is the way the ladies ride – trumpty trump. Trumpty trump
This is the way the children ride – trumpty trump, trumpty trump
But by the second verse, she would wriggle away, choosing instead to follow my husband from room to room, he in turn, would occasionally look down at her in slightly baffled surprise, but she always choose his mild indifference over my clumsy attempts at parenting.
All of that is , of course, is my explanation for all of this, I have never managed to be what is expected, but now, magically, I have the chance, the opportunity, to get it right, to put everything back where it should be. I can finally make it all good .