20.2.18 Origami tree
My mum handed me the flat envelope with a twinkle in her eye.
"Here, we bought you a tree."
It unfolded like magic. All day I've smiled and made it grow, over and over. I'm going to sleep with it under my pillow tonight and see if I can dream my way into a paper forest.
19.2.18 Garden wall
There are days when I can't help but feel such envy. Not for a busy life, but for a wide one. I envy lives that can roam. You'd think someone who has always found movement difficult would have evolved to be a sedentary, restful creature, happy to circle the nest, but I haven't. I'm a wanderer, all the way through.
My range on foot at the moment is about 10 metres. It's much less than it used to be. My feet drag and must be pulled along one at a time and it is agonisingly slow, to experience and to watch, but I get there in the end. I spend all day testing the edges of my tether just in case it has stretched a little. Walk and rest, walk and rest. I do it over and over until I've filled a day. My limit stretches to fill my small house and, with some bracing, it gets me out into my tiny, paved garden, too. I aim for at least one trip out there each day. I had it adapted last year and so the length of it now runs with sitting places and handholds. I climb it, horizontally.
Inside of myself, I am rarely still, filled with an energy that doesn't know what to do with itself. There is such a mismatch between my body and my intent. If I could unhook my body from my will, I would cover leagues within minutes, but I can't, and so all the energy has to find another way out.
It manifests these days as a kind of quiet intensity. I think and feel the equivalent of long, bracing walks. My hands type it out or try and spin it into something beautiful, although I have to do that slowly too. It comes out in looking most of all. My gaze has intensified as my body has slowed. Now, I notice everything and I am hungry for everything: hungry to experience every detail I can. And I do. I make sure I don't overlook a thing. If 10 metres is my limit, I will know it better than anyone else on this earth.
There are days, like today, when I watch the world go about its activities and I burn with longing. "Oh all the things they must see!" I think.
But even now a quiet voice inside of me can't help but whisper back, in challenge, in defiance:
"Ah, but Jo. Think of all the things they must miss."
18.2.18 Garden finds
There are many days when it's hard for me to tell the truth because my truth is not pretty.
Over and over, we're told that it's beauty and success that makes us lovable and beauty and success that will save us. Make ourselves beautiful enough, attractive enough, filter our bodies and our lives enough until only what's pleasing and impressive remains, and the right people and opportunities will be drawn to us.
The most painful thing about it all is that it's true, or at least it seems to be. We've all of us lived long enough to see what's rewarded. We've all of us lived long enough to see what repels. What's worse is that we see everyone around us doing the same - we watch what they choose and who is chosen - and that only makes us believe it all a little harder.
It makes vulnerability a risky business. It makes my vulnerability feel terrifying.
Fear makes us silent and much that is valuable can be lost in silence. I'm trying to remember that and not be tempted to fall into it just because I'm afraid.
I read two things today that stopped me in my tracks.
The first was about Audre Lorde and her thoughts on visibility and silence, and I encourage you to read it here.
The second was hidden in the first: words by James Baldwin, who said “It’s not the world that was my oppressor, because what the world does to you, if the world does it to you long enough and effectively enough, you begin to do to yourself.”
The world tells me every single day that I am lesser, but I don't help by believing it. I don't help by perpetrating it.
Either I believe that disability and its restrictions are something ugly and shameful and should be hidden away, and then hide myself away in response, or I don't believe that. And if I don't believe that, and oh god, I don't, then I'm going to have to start being braver with my visibility and braver with my truth.
Either I believe that love is something shallow and narrow, something that only really responds to perfection and beauty, and start loving like that in response, or I don't believe that. And if I don't believe that, and oh god I do NOT, then I'm going to have to start giving people the chance to love me as I really am.
Even if they still turn away. Especially then.
17.2.18 Buddleia, back garden
I've been so tired today. I was sure when I took this photo that it had been the afternoon light through the buddleia leaves that had caught my attention, but now I look again, all I can see is two dozen paper cranes, folded thin and taking flight.
16.2.18 Night-time snowdrops, deep breaths in the garden
Infatuation scares me. I have been programmed to distrust it. Over and over: don't get carried away.
I live under a deep pressure to be sensible. I'm a single mother. I don't have much money and I rarely have a secure job. My options each day, even down to how I move and direct my body, are limited to a frightening degree.
When vulnerability and responsibility collide together like that, the world makes it very clear which path you must take. You don't have a lot of choice in any case. You should be practical and prudent. You should face your reality and fight for your survival. Focus on what you have to do and let go of the rest. Focus on being better. Don't get distracted. Be careful of your daydreams. Be careful of your loves and the voices that whisper to you from the bright, sing-song sidelines. Be careful they don't try to pull you away into places of idleness and fancy. Don't try to be a bird when you need to be a fish pushing your way up the river. Eyes straight ahead, girl. Don't you stop. Keep your mind set on ambition, not on play. That's the only way out.
The rebellion of it then, to buy a new camera I didn't need. Oh the gleeful, stubborn joy of it. I did that. I did. It was the smallest thing but it has made my eyes gleam.
I did it because taking pictures makes me beautifully, simply happy. I did it because I'm infatuated with light and telling stories and I want to run away with those feelings and their promise, like an unsuitable fling. I did it because it wasn't the least bit sensible and that scared me half to death and because that's who I am, really. That's who I can't help but be: a dumb, wide-eyed, grinning fish who will never stop leaping out of the river just because she wants to see what the sky feels like.
I may be stuck here in this tight place but I'll be damned if I'll be sensible. I'll be damned if I accept a life without play and without the wicked thrill of infatuation.
Here's to falling in love, without sense, without reward.
(And here's to my new camera, too. She's a beauty.)
If you can leave loneliness at the door, there are days when solitude can feel like a bright dream. Your aloneness takes on a sort of thrum: something reverberant. Resentfulness has to be let go of first though, especially the secret, hoarded kind. You have to find a way to stop thinking you're owed something.
If you can do that, it all gets very quiet; it all gets very full. But not full of you, that's the thing. For once, you get right out of the way. The world pours in to fill the space you're usually so determined to fill to the edges and there, there now, you begin to see what's really there.
I don't think madness would feel this quiet. I don't think mysticism would feel this ordinary. And so, somehow, you slip between the two, unnoticed and undemanding.
It's a good place to find if you can. Here, for a while at least, you get to be nothing but you, watching the crows in the trees.
You get to be that simple and that extraordinary.
14.2.18 Surprise roses
Roses are white
and though my head cold is winning,
my friend is a sweetheart.
I'm off to bed grinning.
13.2.18 Pancake Day at the Mundays'
Have you ever had something in your life so precious that it's hard to talk about? Something so fundamental to your world spinning and growing that to try and give it words makes you pull up short. It's like trying to describe what colour feels like, or oxygen.
Some families you're born into, others you make, but another kind still is the family you find. I'm not even sure how it happens. There's no spoken consensus. No marriage or birth or ceremony, it's just... that's what you are now. From the outside, no one would know it, no one would know to place you all together, but if they were to dig deep under the ground of you they would see it. You're all joined up.
A few years ago, I found a sister that way. With her came brother-in-law, niece, nephews. I don't get to call them those things, but that's what they are.
We're taught that only romance can give us the love stories we crave.
I say, come sit with me at my best friends' table on pancake day, our formed-family delighting in every part of each other, laughing loud enough to make the sugar shake, and tell me that's still true.
12.2.18 Darth, bedroom window
My wicked soot-sprite: dragon-toothed and dragon-tempered. He stalks my house all day long, as wild as the day I found him. You can tell the weather from his ears, both the kind that storms inside of him and without. Dark hair stiff and trouble's afoot. A softening and sudden tip to one side, all four paws in the air like a puppy begging for a belly rub, and all is well. He has a purr that could wake mountains and a bite that could bleed one dry.
He is all play with a dark motive, eyes always like dinner plates, his sleek flank instantly snaking in front of whatever you are trying to do. Without fail, he will seek out every single focus of your attention and insert himself into it like an unmoveable shadow. Books and keyboards must be smothered, shaken duvets must be charged under, meals interrupted. Shoo him on and you'll only turn to find him still sat silently a foot away, eyes wide, back stiff, long tail curved neatly round front paws, waiting for his opening, eyes on your calves.
He chirrups to himself like a bird when he's cross, marching the landing, up and down, meeting your gaze to issue long, musical proclamations. Ignore him and he'll open every cupboard and door he can get his claws into, or find something shreddable and leave his mark. He shuns laps and so to quieten him, you must scoop him up in your arms, where he'll lie transformed, content and still and watchful, until you're forced to put him down again. It's at this point he'll frown hard and puff out the air through his nose and you will swear you see smoke. He hoards balls and toys and treasures, raiding the terraced gardens to bring them to you. Pigeons' eggs are a favourite, as are mice, laid all in a line. He is a devil, through and through, and I have never loved an animal more.
My friends are convinced he is enchanted and it is only a matter of time before I accidentally find the words or the charm to give him voice.
Perhaps he'll grant me wishes. I'd wish for him by my side always first.
Posts via Email