The Land of Never Never
You are a woman like any other. You make plans and then watch the wind carry them away to the Land of Never Never. You exist in a permanent state of contemplative fury and lately you dwell on your body: on your own mortality. Nurturing it as if she is a friend you are trying to talk down from the bridge. Suddenly gripped by the fear of imaginary illness.
To everything there is a season. And now it seems to you that you stand on the precipice of yet another. A season of uncertain weather. And so you seek compensation: another book. Another pair of shoes. Another bar of chocolate. The cliches that are the mainstays of female comfort. Props for female disorientation.
Because that is what you feel: disorientated. On a train spinning in circles. Wouldn’t it be good to throw yourself off? To stop the world for a few days and gather up your spirits like so many skirts? Wouldn’t it be good, if the world waited quietly in the wings, while you tidied the living room and straightened out your mind? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if everyone else took a holiday while you made peace with your house and slept for once undisturbed by the tinkle of a tiny cough heard through walls buffeted by wardrobes stuffed with clothes you cannot squeeze your bottom into?
Wouldn’t it be so very, very good?
To everything there is a season. Today you are waiting for a call from school summoning you to collect your child. Certain they will send his pale little face home with an accompanying tsk. Now you are waiting for the meat to defrost, intrigued by the watery blood pooling underneath it. Wondering how you will ever eat it. Later you will carry on cleaning. Dousing yourself in white vinegar and dabbing lemon juice on to your wrists. The acidic stench panacea to the pain in your tummy. For don’t you need her, today, this Panacea, the Goddess of Healing? You need her to grab you by the shoulders and soothe you absolutely still. If only for a moment. But there is scrubbing to be done. No time to waste.
Housework as a barometer of your mood. Richard says he can read your mood with the vigour with which you clean. That when you stand at the sink with your back to the entire house, he can tell by the set of your shoulders that you are angry and taking it out on the plates. He tells you he knows Armageddon is on it’s way when you blow out the candles long before bedtime, as if to deprive him of the quiet bliss of candlelight in penance. And you laugh when he says this, because isn’t it just like you to imagine that it is depriving him of the most infinitesimal tasks of home-making that will inflict the most punishment? Lately the terror of losing a parent is rendering your relationship anodyne: you haven’t washed the plates at the sink in a long time, choosing instead to sit quietly next to him. Being there. Holding everything else in and still feeling that somehow or other you are failing a test set by the Gods.
You feel obliged now to have thoughts as huge as Sartre’s. Seeking answers to the philosophical conundrum that is life or death. But mostly you are simply worried that those attending the Ball on Saturday night will be able to see through your dress to a bosom that will not be contained. (Love that word: bosom). Mostly you concern yourself with the bleeding of your gums. The numeracy group to which your child has been assigned. The water infection you have that is sending you half-mad with it’s relentless nagging. Yes, mostly you concern yourself with the domestic. The transient. With the kind of Being and Nothingness that will leave no mark in time.
And there it is: the Land of Never Never. A place we do not choose to go and yet can barely escape. The meat is defrosted and needs to go into the cassserole. There are carrots to be sliced. An onion to cry for. A doctor to call.
No time to throw yourself off the train. No money to send the world on holiday. Only rhinestone sprinkled shoes and another glass of cranberry.
You are a woman like any other.