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Writings

Evacuee

I thought she’d write, it’s what they do, women of her generation. A genteel way of behaving, I like it. It’s what I would do and even think about replying but perhaps that is too much. I wanted to stay. I wanted to be with her for longer. I think we both did. There is something so warm about her. But perhaps it isn’t her so much but what she represents for both of us. I think my father felt it too. He used to call her she told us, regularly. I can imagine that. He liked women like her, small, seemingly uncomplicated women, who would soften him, coddle him. He’d call just to see how I was, she said. And then when I went to visit him we’d walk round the village and he would introduce me to everyone. She likes company, I think, doesn’t do well alone and yet, going out, alone to meet others, I believe is also a trial. I caught her face through restaurant glass before she saw us, it was hollow. Her card was tender, the writing so typical of that time. His mother wrote in the same way, rather hesitant. The script is self-deprecating, undemanding. The curls are uncertain, sometimes the letters are lower case, others capitals. A slow hand, a tentative hand. She’d thought about it, chosen the front image with care.

What had we talked about? So much. We talked of her childhood in Wales, living in that small town during the War and how they took in an evacuee. A girl. She didn’t remember much about it. Had she shared a room? She talked of her mother. An amazing woman, so capable. Like many from that time, managing everything without their men. We talked of the dance where she’d met her husband. Love at first site, so much so that she’d engineered the second meeting. In so many small, unheroic ways, a brave woman. You’ve had a charmed life, my friend told me, she said. Yes, perhaps but doesn’t that make the loss, oh, so much harder?

It was lovely to witness her lighting up, her face alive with that afterglow. We will do it again. We are your friends. The feelings, my love, are mutual.

 

I feel such compassion for them all. I scan the room and am filled with empathy. They are me and I am them. There is no separation. I open gradually and am more generous with my thoughts and experiences, less guarded. What a gift this is. Though the next day my mind is unrepentant, more determined than ever to unsettle me. So be it. One step at a time.

 

Cool boredom, she called it. And then she read Mary Oliver’s The Wild Geese.

 

I mouthed the words along with her.

 

You do not have to be good. You do not have to walk a hundred miles on your hands and knees repenting. You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves….

 

 

 

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Writings

Beeline

He made a beeline for me. I was gratified, ridiculously so. It’s worked. My idea has worked, someone has responded. Yippee, I thought. He sat next to me on the small two-person sofa. Up close, stroking my hand, patting the side of my leg. Was it sexual? I wasn’t sure. I wasn’t intimidated. He was so small, so hunched, so frail. His finger nails were black. Underneath the nails, four of them, completely black. He stroked my sewing, the black lines I was stitching. He kept saying ‘chi’, the Welsh for you. I Dim Cymraeg, I replied. I don’t speak Welsh. But he continued. So I used all the words I knew, saying yes, hello, no and so on. He kept pointing out of the window and a couple of times got up from the sofa and walked to the window to point outside. Did he want to go out? With me? The little man left for a while but returned ten or fifteen minutes later and sat down again. The same rigmarole until he arrived to collect me. It all changed then. The old man became aggressive, almost shouting at me. Pulling at me to follow him out of the room. He was jealous, he said later. Jealous of me. I hadn’t thought. I thought I’d made a friend. I’d sat next to him noticing the biscuit crumbs on his cardigan, the stains on his trousers, his chocolate brown Velcro-fastened slippers. I’d sat next to him breathing contentment. I am a good presence, I told myself, a calming presence, I am doing some good. What a fool. It was just like in The Samaritans. She’d warned me. Don’t get intimate, don’t think you are making relationships. You are not. What did he see? That ex-headmaster. What did he see in me? The act of sewing clearly resonated with him. He kept touching it. Did I remind him of somebody? He wanted me to himself that was clear. I remembered him from a few weeks back. I don’t like that man, one of the other residents had said of him. His body is a curve. His back a hillock. He is no threat but his anger, the sharp jab he gave my arm was a shock. I have learnt my lesson. My reality is not theirs. We do not even meet in the middle. All is forgotten. Long gone. I must let it go. He is in his fantasy. I crossed that path. I have learnt my lesson. And the lady? The lady with the toy cat. Is it the same with her? Her winning smile, she with the Rice Krispies all down her skirt. Did that have no reality also?

I wanted it to work too much. In a way it has but it is an ongoing experiment. Is it a success if I pleased and then distressed him? It was the same with the little woman last time, when she wanted to come out with us. To please and then distress. And yet all is soon forgotten. Is that not guaranteed? And him, banging on the window shouting ‘out’ at me in Welsh. Out. Only a few want out. The other old man came in while I was sewing. All dressed up as usual in coat, scarf, hat and gloves and with a stick in his hand. He sat for a moment or so before getting up to wander the corridors. Most just sleep, slumber or wail. My heart breaks for them. But I cannot know what they feel. We have lost the ability to communicate. Broken. All I can do is be there, a witness. And be as kind as I can be, in the circumstances. I can’t take you with me. You must remain behind the locked door. For your own good. They are fed, they are warm and the staff are kind. They are clothed in other people’s clothes, they sleep in unfamiliar beds, the wealthy mix with the poor, the intellectuals with the illiterate. His old French teacher was there. She’s a hundred years old. I’d watched her reading The Guardian. Her tiny frame, the skin on her face and neck falling a reticule of lines, sagging, sliding down. Do you remember me? You used to teach me. What is your name? I wouldn’t have called you that. What is your real name? She had lit up. Profoundly deaf. You’ll have to speak up. Temporarily restored to her self. He is kind. My love. I felt sullied by my mistake, my error. He won’t remember, he said. It is alright. Always. Always alright.

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Writings

Yielding (5)

It didn’t work. My blood pressure went sky high. So be it. I will accept it. I need them. She was right and I was wrong. I feel a little foolish. I thought I was well. I thought my body and I could make it alone. But no. I was light-headed, a bit strange even after just two days without them. They’ve been keeping me steady. I must and will acknowledge that, with gratefulness. So many people have to take such nasty medication to stay alive. I am a little naïve, at times, I think. Though is that so bad? I want to take charge myself. That is what it is about. I didn’t want the stigma. I do my best. That is all I can do. Just try. In all things.

I will put my little film forward again. I put it off. It is such a palaver downloading it. But I will try. I see my faltering steps so much more vividly than my confident ones. What am I confident about? Not much. Grow younger towards death, he says. How can we grow younger towards death? By remaining curious, by learning to do new things, always. Like William Hague learning to play the piano in his late forties or was it early fifties? Not being afraid to fall flat on one’s face. It is the trying.

Boring is interesting, a voice said in my head just before waking. I so often forget the landscapes of my dreams. They come to me like smoke during the day, wisps of something I know, deeply but cannot now recall. I need to ask before I sleep. Ask to be helped to remember. I like to keep them. They are my treasures, my insights, my knowing.

Give me the greater knowing. Please.

Shall we go for coffee? Shall I wake him?

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Writings

Medication

I just wanted to give it a try, spurred on by hearing him list my so-called ailments over the phone to the insurance broker. Am I that ill? Am I that unwell? I don’t feel it. The pills, the taking of the pills mark me. Mark my card. I take medicine for high blood pressure, therefore I have high blood pressure. Q.E.D. I did have it. Once. It was an episode. Do I still have it? And the other tablets. The ones for water retention. Do I still need them?

I just wanted to give it a try so I asked the doctor to call. You have to do it that way these days. Book a call, that is. She did, eventually. I know they are busy. So many sick, needy people. They are the only ones you can go to, if you don’t mind the wait. And it’s free, so far. The rest, the other listeners you have to pay for and you don’t know what you’re getting. Mind you, you don’t know what you’re getting with the doctors either, but that is another story. I asked for the one I thought would know me. I’ve seen her twice, or was it just the once? She was the one that prescribed the pills. I thought she’d remember me. She didn’t, that was clear. When I said that I’d like to try coming off them there was a silence down the end of the phone. I kept talking. I just feel better, I said, and I want to see if I really need them. What’s changed? she said, eventually. Was her voice cold? Are you drinking less? Do you eat less salt? I don’t drink at all, I answered, feeling myself getting defensive, thinking can’t you see all that on the screen? I wasn’t expecting such a reaction. I thought she’d be encouraging. And I don’t eat salt, yes. But it’s more than that, I am feeling so healthy. But, she said, it was so high. Yes, I know, but I was unhappy then, my life was so different.

There was a wall between us. A wall of non-understanding. I’d have to negotiate. She began talking again. You could try taking them down to half. The blood pressure pills first. One at a time, she said. Try half dose for a month and we’ll see. Are you good at taking your own blood pressure? You could get one of those machines and monitor it at home. Yes, I can do that. She was rigid, immoveable. So how are we going to do this? Shall I record four readings and drop them off at the surgery for you to respond too? Yes. But I don’t think you’ll be able to do it, she said, it was so high.

And that was how we left it. Me thoroughly deflated and ill-disposed towards someone I’d thought was kind.

Let’s deal with that last bit first. She’s just doing was some doctors do. She sees sickness day-in-day-out. She believes I am sick and that I need this medication to keep well and that I’m wasting her time with this charade. But it was so high, he says. You could’ve died. Possibly. But things were so different. And I want to try, to see if my body can manage alone. Can’t it?

I was deflated. Am I being preposterous? I know I have all sorts of negativity towards the medical profession and I know much of it is irrational. Passed on from her, mostly. And from my inclination towards alternative therapies. But then I’ve never been really sick. Not really. The water retention and the pressure could be inherited. She had it. Though she also drank. I do not. Not any longer. But I do wonder about whether I nourish myself enough.

A girl from the surgery rang. Doctor got your letter and she suggests going down to half for a month and taking regular readings. OK?

Now comes the confession. I did go down to half a day but then, on Monday, I stopped taking them all together. I just want to try and the half measure thing is just pussy-footing. How am I? I feel OK though a little light-headed this morning. But that could be the massage I had from the ‘Brute’ yesterday. Or hunger. We had to rush supper last night so that I could go into work. Who knows? We shall see. I’ll take a reading later today and see. It worries him, I know. And I will go back to them if need be. All sorts of people have to take them, he says, look at me. I know. But I don’t want to be all sorts of people. I want to be me taking responsibility for my own life, my own body. They take you over, take charge. They see a machine, slightly defective, like our blessed, money-eating car.

A delicious walk this morning, despite the slight mugginess in my head. Dry, windless and mild. Just lovely.

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Writings

Mist

Is it mist or is it fog? I cannot say. I cannot tell. It makes the world outside appear stilled, mysterious, waiting. As if it is holding it’s breath. Nothing is moving. The wind has gone, as has the rain, just this mixing of warmth and wetness. There are no birds. Nothing pushes through this grey. Nothing shifts it. No, there goes a rook, cawing. It is like smoke. The air smells like smoke sometimes. Sometimes when I walk in the early mornings it smells of wood-smoke. A smell I usually associate with Autumn but these days every one has fires. And they no doubt light them as much for comfort as heat. I would. Sharp edges are softened, blacks and whites become grey, melding together in fudged shapes. Smudged shapes. An impressionistic vista from my studio window. The light struggling to come through. A white grey, not a pea-souper.

I’m in a mist too. Ah, the rain has returned, spattering on my window. I don’t know where I’m going with my work. Do you have to? He is so good. I come back from work all a dither. It sends me that place. There are no ease-full states to be had there. It is an antithesis to me. All disorganised, all at sea. And I am thrown. It is all that dealing with strangers, with how I am seen and responded to. And whether they choose me or him. It is ridiculous. An old pattern. The school-yard repeated. Do I belong? Am I an outsider? How do I fit in? How do I learn their games? I forget my freedom. I forget the blissful freedom of it. I can be who I like, just turn up be kind, be gracious and go home. And I can read. And the days when I am not there, when they may have given him the work rather than me I can do this precious stuff here. I can be here, finding my way through the mist. Is that not OK?

It is. And then when I have compounded my discomfort by trawling the internet for further evidence of my smallness I come back to him and he calms me. It doesn’t matter what anyone else is doing, he says, you want to do it, it is your work, your love, your passion. I paraphrase a little. I cannot remember it exactly. Sometimes I am not paying attention, even now remembering my desire to shut off his good sense my back tenses. He’s said these things many times, it is truth, certainly but sometimes I am stubborn, too married to the self pity. Too misted-up to see. He talked about my focus being on the amateur sewer. And yes, he is right. That is what interests me. The solitary amateur sewer and how they define creativity. Why they do what they do alongside work, home-life and other demands. I want to find their voices. Does she exist, this amateur needle worker? Or is she a composite of my imagination? Is she in fact a she? I need to listen to the tapes. And straddle my discomfort, my knowledge of my non-knowing. To deal with the awe I feel about other people’s work. It is the kits that intrigue me. The following of pre-set patterns, like a musician being led by a score. What does that feel like? The responsibility to come up with the idea is not yours, you just have to work it, make it, play it. And yet, what happens in that small space between following and being guided? Decisions are made. Mistakes too. The mistakes make it mine, she said. I need to listen. To find the diamonds in the rock.

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Writings

Fart

It was only a dream. I dreamt that he and I were in a shop, a dress shop. I noticed a silk dress, a deep purple shift dress with a matching hat. He asked how much it was. It was extortionate. I made to leave and he followed. I opened the narrow door and began to make my way downstairs and that’s when I heard it. An enormous fart noise. He’d farted in the shop. A tiny shop, chock-full of women. I didn’t wait to hear what they said or did. But then I somehow managed, as you do in dreams, to be two places at one time and I was back in the shop to hear and see a woman laugh and say, I hope we can get a new window glass.

He laughed when I told him. At the farting, naturally, and the comment that the woman made. Things said in dreams don’t translate into reality. Ever.

The farting, sadly, is only too true. I can’t help it, he says. I can’t hold it in. I don’t know they’re coming. She was the same. It was excruciating as a child. In a yoga class (I’m a bit gassy today) or at a dinner party.  Always when she was bending down. Just like Petula Gordino in Dinnerladies. Sometimes I just can’t watch her. It is too close. Too close to the truth.

But is doesn’t matter. Not really. Nothing does.

We sat in the sun yesterday. We walked to North Road and sat on a bench looking down on the tennis courts and the bowling green. The Prom would’ve been to busy. The world and his wife out there. And all the necessary greeting that would ensue when we just want to be quiet. Holding hands. We had to take the lichen covered bench, the other cleaner one was taken by a Chinese man and his young daughter. I wish they’d fuck off so that we can have that seat, he said under his breath. Look at him, just looking at cars, not doing anything with her. It’s true they were an odd pair. She kept climbing onto the bench then down again. And he just stood there looking around. Were they waiting for someone? When they eventually left we stayed put. I liked being still, the sun on my face listening to him talk about playing tennis there as a boy. He’d had to play on his own. He was the only junior member. So I’d put my bag on the line and serve to it. Over and over again, he said. Didn’t you get bored? Never, he said. I can see it. I know his determination.

You were like a harridan, he said afterwards. No, you sounded like a harridan. I did, he was right. I was edgy and embarrassed. Where had he got to? I’d had to chat to her longer than I’d intended, thinking all the time, where is he? She told me about her 5 year old’s birthday party at the football club. She’d shared it with a friend. Twenty-eight five year olds running around dressed as princesses. A company had organised the entertainment with the head woman also dressing as a princess, Belle from Disney’s Beauty & Beast (I think, she said) and getting them to sing all the songs. Even I had a dance, she said. It was brilliant. And her brother whirled her around. The only issue was the food, they all forgot what they’d ordered.

He’d got distracted by a two for three pounds offer in the frozen veg section. I was just trying to save money, he said. Fair enough. I can see that. And I should make allowances. It is fine. We have time. There is always time. I shouldn’t have shouted. A harridan. At times, certainly.

The day promises fair. Another blue sky with a yellow sun.

The flat smells of hyacinths. They begin to open. Can you smell them, my love? I forgot to ask.

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Writings

Ipso Facto

I can’t stop singing it in my head. That song, Ipso Facto by Badly Drawn Boy. He’s been doing the same. An ear worm. It’s stuck.

I’ve looked up the meaning but I still don’t really understand it.

What a beautiful morning. The sky is cloudless, cold but clear. And the blue is being turned yellow by the sun. Shall we walk this afternoon?

I haven’t checked my emails yet. Has she responded? I have a stomach-ache as a result of writing it. It had to be done. Get it out. Not unkindly, but it has been eating away at me. A stillness. A Sunday kind of stillness. I love skies like this. They are hopeful. A clean-slate of nothingness to be filled with bliss.

Ah, bliss. What is that? Sun. Sun is bliss to me. Lying in the heat of it, feeling it warm my bones.

The clocks went forward this morning. Twelve jumped to two. I waited for it but the announcer made little of it. I hope you’ve remembered to put your clocks forward, was all he said. And I missed the whirring of our one upstairs. Well, it’s not strictly ours. It was here when we came. It’s radio controlled and suddenly starts whirring as if being worked by a far-off Wizard of Oz.

A struggling day yesterday. So tense. But I saw the day through. And went to buy the material. We bought her this old till in an antiques market when she was small, the woman in the shop told me. She’s wanted to have a shop ever since. And now she does. I watch her cut the fabric, loving that sound of scissors against wood. I chose buttons. Better to get the elastic from Clare’s, she says. The till makes a bell sound when you open it. See, she says. I think about possibilities. I hanker after this making thing. What is it about? It’s so much cheaper just to buy something ready-made. But I want to make this, a gift of my time. If you want something done ask a busy person. And I am. Always. Always busy. There were some of her capes in the shop. Is that your daughters? I ask, thinking that would be too much of a coincidence. No, she says, my daughter is a…., what is the word? Dressmaker? I suggest. No, she replies, a tailor. A tailor. Hmm, another one for my tapes, perhaps. The bell rings above the door at Clare’s Wool Shop. Lucky you can read patterns, eh? she says. Can I? What is this mix of comfort and dread that I get from such shops. Crafty, she kept saying on Wednesday night. Crafty. Ugh. And yet, why such snobbishness? It’s just making. The aesthetic is neither here nor there. Try non-judgement. What is it is about? What is the resistance? It’s the stories that interest me, mine and theirs. The stories that take us to the needle. Brown paper bags. They both used brown paper bags. The ones with the crinkle-cut edges.

Do you know where the Castle Hotel is? A couple. She looks worried. Isn’t that the Pier we came down before? she’d just asked her partner. Are we lost? It’s just down there on the right, I reply. Oh, thanks, love, she says. Love. A young girl calling me love. And I am lightened by it. I meet such warmth. Unexpected warmth. Sometimes it is just enough to carry me on my way.

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Writings

Lady of the House

I wasn’t selected. I watch for knee-jerk thoughts. The shame at failing. The thought that someone out there might think worse of me. Foolishness at trying for something at which I didn’t succeed. All these characteristic, tired thoughts rush forward. Always. No matter what it is I try for they always come. Perhaps it is my hopefulness, my fingers-crossed idealism. It might happen, throw it out there and it might come. What might come? Something that will tell me I’m good enough? That I am chosen? Ridiculous, I know. But I need to write it out. To see it for what it is.

There is nothing to achieve, she says. Nothing to achieve. Think about that a while. Nothing but a breathing in and out. How beautiful. To have nothing that one must do. There is nothing you must do, he whispers to me as I fall to sleep. There is nothing you have to do. Can I believe it? Can I let it all go? What will happen if I do?

My back is hard. Rigid as steel. Fear. Fear about telling her what I think. What will happen? What will the truth bring? Well, my truth. Her truth is different, I accept that.

I wasn’t selected.

Was that my real goal to be chosen so that I could add another exhibition to my CV? I wanted to be seen, my work, or is it really me? I wanted my work to be seen, rated. I wanted to be told that it was good. Why is that necessary? You wanted to make something. The Open was an opportunity to work towards, a deadline, an impetus. That is all. The making was the thing. Always. Let it be. Let the failure be no different from the success. It is just experience. You have nothing to do but experience. Experience being alive, sentient, aware. Alert to all things, experience all things, without judgement.

I’ve been away. So no writing. I feel askew when I don’t . It’s been too long. And then when I get back there is so much to do to ground myself again. My back carries it. My board, my rigid board. Poor love. But I’ve been living. He and I, close. And the interviews and the meetings. All good. All valuable. All experience. The Oak, the restaurant with her and her soft, watery eyes. That was a good thing. Her loneliness is palpable. She is used to joy. She is alive to it. A quivering bird of life. I wanted to do more. And for her yesterday morning on the phone. I’m weepy today, she said. And I had to rush off.

Little notes to remind me. The four youths on the beach in the early hours standing round a lit fire, Latino music playing on a ghetto blaster, laughing like hyenas. And the girl that stopped me by Pier Pressure night club. Have you seen a girl? She’s called Eleanor. My friend, Eleanor. Have you called her? She’s not picking up. We’re really worried. I’ve seen two people, a boy and girl down by the bandstand. The boy was shouting. Yes, that’s her boyfriend, he’s really worried. If I see her I’ll tell her. Thank you. Her name’s Eleanor.

I’d heard him shout. A bellow, a howl out at the sea. Eleanor. I hadn’t known what he was shouting then. Did they find her?

Dreams. Bits of dreams. A chatelaine. I was a chatelaine. I was married to someone else’s husband and held domain over a large busy household. The servants were bullish. One in particular. I’m the lady of the house, I said to her. I was strong. And there was a boy, a step son who kept wetting the bed. I took the sheets down to the laundry. I remember the wetness but there was no smell, just water and water. And a later dream. Thank you, I said to him, my love. Thank you, for the embroidery. Yes, the embroidery. Then afterwards I dreamt that I told him of the earlier dream. We laughed at the ridiculousness of it. Thank you for the embroidery. I didn’t mean that. I meant thank you for my life.

So much kindness, openness. And amidst the fear of no work and broken cars, abundance. It is alright. It is always just as it should be. I am open. Open to everything without judgement. Alive.

 

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Writings

White Forests

The dark, the dark night-almost-morning that I walk through is my forest. The forests of fairy tale. The forests that Sara Maitland writes about in her book Gossip from the Forest. It is the space I most fear and my nerves jangle as I walk out into it.

This morning it grew white. The snow makes it clean, light, less fearsome. Listening to Our Own Correspondent yesterday morning while doing yoga there was a journalist writing about visiting a backwater town in Russia famous for its copper smelting. An ugly, black industrial eyesore which the winter snow yearly renders beautiful. I watch the flakes fall as I walked, the way they made new the forms that lay on the ground. Discarded cans, bits of rubbish took on new, softened life. Cars, roofs and lamps all became shrouded in white. Everything is softened, all hard-edges gone. And the stillness. Music still thumped out of the Pier Pressure nightclub. You’re the one that I want, yeh, yeh, yeh.. was being pounded out as I trudged past. I could hear them all singing along. Girls, coatless ran out into the snow, flakes catching like gossamer in their hair. The ground was sometimes slippy, sometimes crunchy. Down by the harbour the wind whipped-up. A fish lorry was waiting, its engine humming and two fishing boats were there, lit-up like Christmas.

The dark. I walk it with fear and wonder. The snow added to the wonder. My forest. I remember the forests in Norway. Both in Baerum. Places of escape, of breath, of freedom and of fear. Mystical places, with those high, high trees and the funny, perky-eared squirrels.

A cold morning, chill. My fingers tingled and stung. Even in the pockets. I like to walk and swing my arms. It stabilises me. It stops me falling.

Her auntie fell again, he tells me. Poor love. I remember seeing the woman in the home fall. She couldn’t help herself. That cry, that terror of losing control. And all the paraphernalia of getting her up again. Hoists and joists, straps and levers. Who has all that at home?

Do be careful, he pleads.

A grey-white sky. Rooks break its chill stillness.

Coffee then work.

I wanted to get a pattern for her. I wanted to make something for her. I have the labels. Her name, printed out. No joy. Nothing in the shops. I shall have to search the internet. I like to feel, to see what I am getting. Move with the times. Let it be as it is.

And the disc is going funny. Is that more resistance? Who knows. I could be comic if I let it be so. Who cares?

What are your plans for this wild life?

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Writings

Unshaven Legs

I find myself watching them. I watch them all intensely. Usually when one of them is speaking. I want to know them. I want to know people generally. I burn through them with my watching. It isn’t staring. Staring is cold, unkind almost. I look with care, with empathy, with compassion. I know this. But I am also curious. For they are not me. I only know myself. And how it is to be me. How is it to be them?

She doesn’t say much. She is withdrawn. In grief. She is clearly grieving. She is a beautiful woman. You see, I don’t want to make judgements but I cannot stop my mind making these distinctions. I look at her with wonder. How is it to be so beautiful? How does it feel? Her chin comes almost to a point but her face is heart-shaped. An exotic, dark-skinned kind of beauty. And so different to mine. I am a Jane Eyre, a plain needing-to-get-used-to-and-love-kind-of-beauty. A not noticeable kind of beauty. Hers is enchanting. Her voice has a hint of American or is it Canadian? She wears patterns, shimmering golds and greens. Yesterday she had on harem pants that were cut at the ankle. A woman of largesse. She drives a people carrier. A family woman, a mother. Then when we moved to sit cross legged I notice her calves. Her legs were hairy, unshaven. Long black hairs. It was a shock. Ridiculous to admit it but it is true. And yet it is just a different notion of beauty. That is all. Still is took something away.

Last night I dreamt that my legs were hairy. I was ashamed and made a mental note to remove them the next morning. It was a surprise to see them in the bath clean as a whistle.

She answered the phone. It was nice to hear her. Her voice is stronger, more cheerful. She’d been for an MRI. I’d put on tidy underwear, she said, and then found out they did it with my clothes on. She suddenly realised what she’d implied, and added, but of course I change them clean everyday. Of course. Of course you do.

The wind was strong this morning, gusting. Students and revellers wandered wind blown along the Prom. Big girls with cleavage-revealing tops and no coats. Such big-bosomed girls. One had on a gingham top, all flouncy at the sleeve and chest. A Botero-darling. She walked back to the Halls alone. They are so luscious. Are they safe? Nothing is hidden. All is on show. So different. Do I notice it more now that my ripeness has gone? I don’t mind. This is another time, another place. I am content.

Yesterday was better. As were my readings. Perhaps I still can. Who knows?