Leaving

Child
when you pushed your green plastic wheelbarrow
out of the door
in protest at the new baby
and marched off down the street
and right round the corner,
I didn’t realise at first.
A woman had found you
and had a hold of you
by the time I flew up there,
clutching a nappy
and an astonished newborn.
I had a baby last week
I panted,
I think he’s upset.
Age 2, you said:
I’m not upset. I’m just leaving you.
The woman let you go and still you wouldn’t
come back to me.
I called your bluff and walked back down the street
without a backward glance,
heart breaking & pride shattered,
giving you space to follow.
A risky strategy.

That was your first leaving.

A mind like yours
does not come along often
and
the responsibility of it
has always been heavy.
I taught you to read before you were three,
allowed you to take apart the hoover
and answered questions
every day
on metaphysics & microwaves
before I even woke up.

The time you threw all the shoes
at the door
in a rage
because I could not remember
Einsteins’ theory of relativity

That was your second leaving.

There were countless others.
You left us all behind so quickly.

Child,
I don’t know where you are in London
what you are doing
and with whom.
I don’t know when you will be getting home
or how
and via which kebab shop,
and you are not answering your phone.

It’s 1am.
I don’t know whether to go to sleep not knowing.
Or whether I should call your bluff
and walk down the street without a backward glance

Hoping that one day you will come back to me.

Choices

Illustration by trudi murray

It’s the holidays, and my life is all out of whack, but I went to see my elderly friend, as it’s Wednesday, and that’s the day the local day centre doesn’t run. She goes every day, for her lunch, but on Wednesday they’re closed. I always worry that she won’t get to talk to anyone on Wednesday, so I try to pop in for a chat, and to give her a hug.

My head was full of things, a noodle soup of choices; being married, the way forward, the future. I don’t want to be over dramatic. But show me a committed person who hasn’t had a hard time being committed at some point. If you can’t find one, I’d wager everyone is lying to you, too ‘busy’ to think about it or has not been committed for two decades yet. It’s not easy. It’s a constant choice to remain in the space of it with the ebbs and flows of change battering from every side. It will be fine, I’m certain and hopeful of it, though maybe not in the same way as before. This is the grieving of growing up and the constant evolution of people and circumstance. Perhaps some space is needed. A new thing. I don’t know.

I know this: I’m not easy in so many ways* and I feel things deeply, I get lonely, and I almost certainly spend too much time thinking. It makes good art, but ha! – this is small consolation, perhaps.

Anyway, I bought some flowers and took them round to my elderly friend. I was dismayed to find her upset and panicked, having had water coming in to her flat from the one upstairs. She’d called the housing people for help, so after we’d inspected the damage (not major, thankfully, but it *is* worse than she knows – her eyesight isn’t great), I sat her down and we talked and talked.

We talked about nothing, and everything. We went round and round the houses – me telling funny stories, wildly exaggerating and making her laugh. She told me (again!) about being a child in the war, and her life as an evacuee. She showed me a new dress she’d bought for £1 (£1!) in the charity shop. I oohed and aahed and admired the fabric, how it lit up her eyes. She twirled it round, gently, to show me. We arranged those flowers I’d brought. Reach me down that jug, my darling. We inspected the garden. We said how good they are at the doctors, how looked after we are.

She told me about a choice she’d made. I wasn’t shocked, though I think she thought I might be. She looked at me. I looked at her. It’s life, I said, isn’t it. This is the life we’re dealing with. None of it is easy, though it’s so good too.

She knows what I’ve seen in life. You can talk plainly when you’re an old hand at heartache.

We shared a hug. Call me, I said, day or night.

Were there problems in my head? I can’t remember. And maybe, for today, that’s a choice too.

 

*But who is, actually? Be kind to yourself.

La vie est belle

Illustration of la vie est belle by Trudi Murray

Gentlemen, I offer you a lesson in romance.

Read on.

Although we’ve had to have a few months off because of my hospital episode, Mr M and I are usually in the habit of going to a bootcamp fitness class two or three times a week, early in the morning, before work. It’s running, jumping, cardio, weights, squats, lunges… it’s hard work. Intense, sweaty, brilliant. The trainers are tough (but kind). It’s challenging. It’s motivating and healthy, and we enjoy going together. In fact, I don’t like to go without Alex, as he keeps me smiling and cheers me on when I think I’m about to actually die if I do any more lunge jumps.

We’ve been going for a couple of years now. About a year ago, on the walk home to a shower, we always used to pass a young woman on her way to catch the train. We were usually sweaty, hot, red-faced. She was usually clean, neat, pretty – and she smelled gorgeous. Every time we got past her, I’d wonder out loud what it was she wore to smell so good.

One morning, I didn’t want to go to bootcamp, so Alex went by himself. On his way back, in his shorts, and with a sweaty towel round his neck, he stopped the young woman and had a brief chat… finding out the name of her perfume.

A few days later, a parcel arrived for me. No note. Puzzled, I opened it. A bottle of perfume? What does this mean? Who is this from? I opened it, and sniffed the top of the bottle.

Oh, Alex.

La vie est belle.

 


 

*The other extra sweet thing about this story is that when we passed the young woman every day after that, she’d smile secretly at Alex, who’d smile back, and I’d pretend to be oblivious to the whole thing. He’s smooth.

*So now you know: all my work smells of orange blossom, jasmine, patchouli and vanilla, and so do I 🙂

Light and skippety

illustration of dragonfly on girl's head

Keep your eyes open.

 

Good things happen. They just do. You can’t stop them. They land like iridescent dragonflies on the top of your head, light and skippety, and they tickle you with their wings.

You have to open your eyes and look for them though, and it’s true, some weeks you have to look harder than others.

Maybe it’s been one of those weeks, maybe it hasn’t.

But in a spirit of determination, here’s a list of good things from my week:

Several commissions running concurrently, each with delights.
Two new paintings, and an idea.
A parcel of submissions posted out to an art director, full of hope and promise.
A shopping list of art materials, burning in my head, which I’m looking forward to buying.
Unexpectedly finding out that being kind doesn’t always fall on deaf ears 🙂
New music: A Blaze of Feather.
Chocolate brownies.
The garden and all my hopes for it.
Coffee.
School’s out!*
Clean sheets.
Texts from a friend, who puts me back together every time.
A walk round the park, watching the dogs playing.
Seeing old friends today who live far away on the other side of the world, and finding again that time between get togethers is always irrelevant.**
My boy Felix is home today after a wonderful adventure, and looking forward to a good meal 🙂

Good things are a choice, but they’re always there. Be light, and skippety, and look out for dragonflies.

*This is good, so good. And also presents a few juggling challenges.
**And, I had the delight of sending two paintings back with my friends to America.

20140123_10212257599488489_5076308331366708789_n

Thank you, Rebecca! I love you xx So nice to see you. You are so faithful and such a good friend to me, always xx

 

A Blaze of Feather, my new crush: on youtube here! 
Though they will never replace my total best studio song ever: Move like you want by Ben Howard, which always gets me through.

Lonely

Romantic week in Paris

 

long days alone,
working,
turn me
again
to thoughts of you
even though
i put you in a box recently and taped you up.

will you not stay in there.

you are too strong for me
and
i’m too lonely.

what was said
and what was nearly said
the danger of words
the temptation
to say them
how i wanted more
much more
but was afraid to ask
how I had to keep quiet for the sake of someone else’s happiness.

i could search
the whole internet
for you
you’re not there

A cat may wander

A cat may wander
Where it will
Loving you
And leaving
As it pleases.
The friendship it grants
Is fleeting
And wise
For a cat will protect itself
Above all
And if your home
Is too much
You
will
eventually
Know
It
By
The
Absence
Of
The
Cat

Hold your treasures tightly

black and white doodle

I don’t mean possessions, I’m not at all materialistic. I find money and things get in the way of the real stuff.

What I mean is the people you love, the habits you’ve formed together. The smiles you share and the games you play.

The odds and ends of life always turn out to be the best bits.

Alex and me have a thing for curling up on the sofa to watch some TV at the end of a long day – and busy evenings with the kids and their friends and everything else going on after work – we don’t usually get there until 10pm. If we’re not watching something together (and at the moment it’s The Handmaid’s Tale – which is another blog post entirely), Alex is so patient and will watch any sort of thing I choose, though he draws the line at hospital emergencies, and so I have to watch them from behind a cushion. Or sometimes I’ll draw and doodle while some film is going on. I’m very annoying – I ask too many questions about the plot, so that’s why I doodle instead.

I usually just draw whatever I can see; all the tiny, familiar but worthless objects that make a world cosy.

It’s nice. It’s boring. It’s love. It’s home.

Hold onto it tightly, and let all the rubbish fall away.

 

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