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Apparently my friends are bored with snow and winter related updates on Facebook. Well, stuff you, this is what's happening and it's much better than the boring grey English winter we usually have so we shall trumpet about it to our hearts delights thank you very much. Uni was closed yesterday, and climbing up our hill with three bags of shopping, picturesque as it was, was also bloody tiring. Still, I am enjoying this world without cars, everyone on foot, reclaiming the streets. It's like an ongoing quiet carnival, the norm upside down, remember who the city was built for.
He sat on the driving side of the authorative desk, compiling her file, white coat against dark leather.
'Have you ever given birth?', he asked.
'No, but I've been pregnant', she responded, with a calm premonition. He looked at her, into her eyes.
'A miscarriage'. It wasn't a question. He didn't want to hear it. She was not interested in his feelings.
'No. An abortion'. She held his gaze with ease. There was nothing in these eyes she'd not seen before.
A short silence.
'I will not write this down', he said finally. 'You never know what people may think.'
A series of small disasters, this time the ceiling in the kitchen caved in, flooding the floor with water and soggy plaster. It may have been a leak, seeping water into the wall until it gave in. It may be snow blown in between the bricks and now melting in the warmth of the house. I barely poked it, I swear, when the heavens opened. Sadly no cat face emerged from the hole to watch me sin. What would we do without A and his handy skills and his 'we'll get this sorted' attitude, he even made me a sledge.
Well maybe it's not important, but it turns out it matters. Saturdays can be so gloomy, cloudy weather, no reason to get out of bed, K is grumpy and sneezy. The wet snow looks tired. I have to work. We go down to the store through the slush and buy chicken. This piece of meat provides an anchoring point for our empty day. The rubbing, the heating of the oven, the cooking, the eating. In the meantime day turns into night and we can relaxed, relieved the pressure of achieving something today is over. The bones will make a broth.
It's like a train going uphill with a light load, nice and easy, but suddenly a new wagon is hooked on, and there is an instant of struggle, a small jump, a going backwards maybe as the engine tries to make up for the additional load. It happened when I was teaching a group of MAs: after a while I became completely self-unaware, words were coming out of my mouth without involving the ego. It was so effortless, when I suddenly noticed what was going on ;the ego hooked up to the stream of eloquence and I nearly stuttered.
The cold is ruining my sex life. We spent some minutes this evening pondering the possibility of fondling, after which it was decided that we were too cold, had sores, couldn't breathe through our noses and oh could not do 'it' under the shower because of the global ecological crisis (you may laugh, but I find it impossible to throw myself into passion completely when I'm aware of the hundreds of litres of pure hot water disappearing down the drian). So there you have it, global geopolitics (price of fuel), ecological conserns and the bloody weather are preventing me from...
After my mum's funeral I collected a cooking book from the house, Kuchnia Polska, the first gift my parent received when they became engaged (whether it was my parents that received it or just my mum is not debatable as my dad claims to have taught her how to cook, or at least how to bake. Not to mention that she hated cooking - all this effort, she'd say, and five minutes later it's all gone. She preferred cleaning. Funnily enough, my preferences are exactly the opposite). Its linen cover, that was so much part of that house, now with me.
This is exciting, not having seen her for over a year now, the lady of the (relative) south, with her fox red hair and unmistakable style, blouses always too tight, buttons nearly bursting, the cheeky smile full of small sharp teeth and the creamy skin of an English Rose. Always an enigma, and I hope we've not drifted too far apart now, in our respective busy worlds, hers forever dizzying with the dynamics of ambition, stress and triumph, stewing in caffeine and cigarette smoke. I foresee an evening of beer, wood and warmth, and admiration, at least on my part.
I wait in the biting cold like a forlorn lover, seeing the shadow of her features in every passing face. Every small woman becomes the object of my scrutiny; but none has the hurried tip-toing walk, the centredness and constant hurry of her. And when we do finally meet, she is so calm and casual I can hardly believe it. She is very relaxed and content, with a novel feature, three pararell lines on the forehead. Before I leave her college appartment I kiss her lovely cheeks and tell her what a treasure this continuing connection is, so precious.
We talked until one o'clock at night, me and O. I can't remember this ever happening before. Not like this, calm and relaxed, like friends, and like sisters. This one time it felt natural and right, which is obviously why it happened in the first place. Her mind is very sharp, and her emotions are mature, but I keep up, and she keeps up with me too; perhaps we both had to grow strong in ourselves before we were ready for this peaceful, open engagement. I fear making predictions for the future. but since mum's death perhaps things are changing.
He was right, it did feel a bit like Come Dine With Me, including the behind-the-back bitching, speculations about sex life, and snickering at furniture. Again, K mademe feel a bit weird commenting on my apparently inappropriate behaviour, my shins were bruised from all the under-the-table kicking. I told him I have no time to waste on clammed-up Brits, that if there weren't prepared to come out of their emotionless castles and engage in some non-superficial conversation well screw them, I don't go out to make dull chit-chat about TV and the weather.
Ugh. Oh dear. Can't open my eyes. I can hear the alarm, but I can't open my eyes. I feel around and push the snooze button.
Oh dear. Here we go again. Still can't open my eyes. It's like something is... ugh... pulling my eyelids closed... eyes stinging... close again.. WAIT A MINUTE! Was that..? Oh dear. It's the goblins again. I just caught sight of one, tiny bastard pulling on my lashes. Want me to sleep do you?
I jump out of bed and stick my head under the cold tap. We'll see how the sleep goblins like that!
The walls were covered in white plastic boarding, with random triangular mirror. We sat in two rows, back to back, on plastic chairs, waiting. Every stand had two plastic cups, 'clean' and 'dirty', with hundreds of colorful plastic combs. I'd get bored, but mum was there, so I tried to look through the windows, but they were steamed up, and it was dark outside anyway. Muddy puddles of melting snow glistened in the fluorescent light. There was a smell of perfumed water in the air. I was jealous of the adults, putting their heads back into porcelain to be washed.
Went through the motions of cooking eating sitting like an automaton. My love says he always knows when I'm tired or hungry because I go quiet; yesterday was an extreme of wordlessness. Sitting at the table I felt a sudden solidarity with two-year olds, I too was overtired, I was sleepy but forgot how to fall asleep, and I too wanted to weep meakly from the desperate bottom of my soul that I had a cold, I was tired, life was too hard and someone should take me in their arms and carry me to bed. Which he did.
Ah the absoulte joy of being six months old. Just look at her. Forever the centre of attention, passed from loving arms to loving arms onto loving knees, tootless grin causing explosions of admiration. Burping, vomiting and being stinky is barely commented on, the uncomfortable evidence quickly removed. The faintest of complaints results in the certain materialisation of The Breast, which can be both sucked and bitten. Then she lies down on her back on mummy's knees, arches her neck and looks upon the upside-down world with an expression of utter triumph. She knows she's living the high life.
I have given in to the Enlglish custom of giving Christmas cards to people you see every day (Poles only send Christmas cards to people far far away, and stick to the verbal wishes for those within immediate reach). I spent an hour trying to come up with appropriate, witty and personal wishes for my supervisor. Bloody hell, my life practically depends on the woman, but I know hardly enything about her private life (and what I do know is gossip anyway). Bland generic wishes followed. Better a neutral impression than a bad one. I'm disgusted by my sudden Englishness.
Reality is variable. The airport is real. Getting onto the plane is real. Flying is not real. Same concept as the Earth being a planet swivelling through the infinite universe. So wierd a concept, so remote, that I cannot feel it, therefore it's not (my) reality. Similar to religion. Sometimes I like to lie on my back, look into the night sky, and immagine myself as a speck of life on a mass of rock and water moving through space. And I feel elated at this immagined reality, like I felt elated immagining the hand of God on my shoulder.
I wish planes were in common use at the time of the impressionists. What mindblowing paitings they may have produced exposed to this madness of light and vapour. A black wave hangs over the horison; from behind it, the Sun breaks through and gives birth to an Earth, covered in radiant, soft whipping cream white, four black chimneys poking comically through the fog. Perhaps the genius of the impressionists lies int he fact thez did not need to fly. Still, why do so few people paint airscapes? I can't imagine anything more transcendant than this view from a RyanAir window.
Everything pastel, blue-grey ground, blue-pink band around the horison, silver line of cloud, baby blue sky. QI tells me pink does not exist as a colour in the spectrum, but here it is, for once unobtrusive, unoffensive. As the sun sets lower deeper shades of violet seep out from between the trees. The sky and the ground mirror one another, united in frost. The take-off is pastel too, until we move into the clammy white-grey of cloud.
I wrote my Italian christmas cards this morning, to people I have not seen for over a year now.
White darkness outside, landscape covered in snow has its own morbid glow. The fields stretch into infinity, it looks so cold, freezeing. Low hanging cloud. The night is unforgiving and indifferent. The car moves through it slowly, the only vehicle on the white road. The people inside are tired and bored. It's dark but for an orange glow of the dashboard. They're silent. They're far away from one another, the weight of boredom does not unite them but makes them into strangers. One inhales heavily, a sharp cough, sound of phlegm stirring in the lungs, than silence, and the dark.
Srunch scrunch scrunch. Just a bit more, I don't feel like going back to the house yet, it's so much better out here, in the white frozen forest. Scrunch scrunch scrunch. I read the stories of the animals in the snow, purposeful writings criss crossing my path. Scrunch scrunch scrunch. I catch myself daydreaming, and stop. I open my mouth, and stand still. The silence is complete. I must be making so much noise. I turn around slowly and try walking on tiptoe, but the noise is still unbearable. Maybe I'll just stand here, and let the snow cover me.
He turned the screen around, so that I could see. On it a shape that was familiar with, but not through direct experience. It looked like a calm, grey sea, with soft ripples of shade and light running through it. Suddenly a shape emerged, round, thin walled.
'This is your uterus', he said. I smiled a boroad smile. I felt a movement, and he narrated: 'We're moving up now...'
The soft grey sea bulged, and a shape like a cluster of grapes formed. My ovary. Look at it, so smooth and perfect, in the soft grey, so beautiful.
On Christmas Eve we'll have the Polish dishes, herring and carp and barszcz with dumplings. I'll play Polish carols. We will invite our friends who'se families are too far away for them to travel for Christmas. It'll be relaxed and informal. I'll tell them about the traditions, but will not force them on anyone. We will open the presents at midnight, or the following morning. On Christmas Day we will do whatever it is the British do. On Boxing day we'll have bigos. When my dad is gone, and we have children of our own, that's what we will do.
I'm pacified by hunger. No energy left to waste on bickering and petty disagreements. Foreseeing the usual Christmas Eve box of horrors I've not eaten anything since 10am.
There was a good series of articles in the paper about how Christmas Eve makes us all into children, strips us from power and freedom as we all, hosts and guests alike, submit to the sanctified tradition of pretending we all always get along because 'it's Christmas Eve'. Gritting of teeth and awkward silences all around. Trying to enact an ideal eve that never was, but we were too young to realise.
We're snowed in. The whiteness outside is now half a metre deep. It's impossible to cross the fields, the long fingers of snowdrifts have blocked it completely. And it's still snowing. We take R for a ride on the sledge, and confirm that the village is cut off from the rest of the world until a plough comes. The priest made it to the morning mass though, some pious soul gave him a ride on their tractor.
Later we build a sledge run, and even my dad has a go. It's a while since I've seen him laugh like that.
I'm petrified actually. First illness. I keep touching my neck, all of the sudden the body is alien and malignant. I feel/imagine pains, a constriction on breathing. I want to live, and I want to live well. I know the illness is common, and treatments widely available, but the possible complications in pregnancy, and the impact on the fetus make me mourn for the imagined miscarriages.
And then I get angry, thinking my black mood is itself a result of the misbehaving hormones. Fuck this. I have no other symptoms. Fuck this. I'll be fine.
I need a hug.
Now I know why she never praised him; nothing he could do for M would make up for the pain he'd caused her. Turns out M was still quite conscious of the world when the affair started. Their relationship was unequal. M was submissive, and compromised and pacified to preserve the 'gingerbread house' and the family they built. Her life was focused on him. When he moved out, she lost her way entirely in her already fragmented, crumbling reality. And grandM added to this pain, always reminding her, to re-live the horror of her own divorce through her daughter.
I try not to dwell on it. Perhaps he would have gone mad or lapsed into alcoholism had he not moved out then. What is done is done. So many things should have been different, but we play with the cards we were dealt.
She talked of her own life to. Her relationship with F (you'd like that much, but you only get this much, and you have to be satisfied), her escape from her mother, her feelings of uselesness. It must be so hard to live just to preserve your own life, to keep going like that.
I went home. Empty, and cold, kept at 13C, just enough to keep the mould off. It's just the way it' always been. Spices in the cupboards, coats on hangers, neat tablecloths. I wanted to take a few things back. I can't. I sit on the edge of the library steps, overwhelmed by the physical weight of objects. What to do with all this? Where to take it, where to keep it? How do we make a dent in this pile of past? It will be a difficult week, me and my sister, dehumanising emotionally charged objects, stripping them bare.
You could not see outside for the frost on the windows. When you wanted to check the station, you had to melt a little circular hole with your breath, and peek out into the dark cold world. People were standing now, or sitting on rolled up coats, as the uncomfortable plastic chairs turned out to be radiators and got so hot they were painful to the touch. A gang of young kids, a lonely misterious traveller, and me. And when we arrived, a welcome committee of three. M has become more serious and less fun, E was talkative as ever.
Well, that was boooring... sitting around a table in harsh light, drinking vodka and talking about nothing, too bored to even attempt to enliven the bland conversation. Waste of time. Maybe we're old.
The rest was nice though, their funny old-fashioned flat with the hidden treasures of the past scattered throughout, a working pedal-powered sawing machine included. We drank and watched silly programmes and chatted in bed.
I was the happiest coming back home though. I've not missed him so much for a long time. It was a relief and instant relaxation of coming back home. My heart.
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