This is from Friday, when all I had for you were disconnected thoughts. I think, maybe, things are improving. Or at least, the sun is shining. Holding on, holding on.
One of the first signs, always, avoiding myself. I stop getting up to write. Days go blank.
This morning, on the way to pre-school, I remember the boys of my childhood. Craig Harwood. Ian Stanton. Ben Luker. Paul Catchpole. Robert Thompson. Richard Colvin, Old Colv. Richard Roberts, Boo. Some of these boys I haven’t seen since I was eleven. Some continued to be in my classes at secondary school. Boys who were always there in the background. Names & associations that might be with me forever.
A pattern to the weeks. The weekend’s momentum carrying me through Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday, a pause. The first pre-school day. Reading, not writing. Thursday, a headache. Friday, pre-school again, but too late for anything but tears.
Thinking of the boys reminds me of Jo Ann Beard’s The Boys of My Youth. I came to it through her wondrous, perfect, impossible essay ‘The Fourth State of Matter‘. Have you read it? You should. It, in turn, reminds me of Imperial, of the days of physics. Of labs that were pretty much exactly the way Beard describes them. This connection, this leaping from one thing across a gap that is just the size of my thoughts, I don’t know where it takes me.
I download a period app. It asks me to describe my mood: happy, sensitive, sad. I am sad and sensitive every day. I show it to B. He is so freaked out by the words ‘fertile window’ that he asks me what I’m using it for.
For years, we were moving away from our childhoods. I had an image in my head of the people I knew at school spreading out, tiny moving specks on a map that ran forward in time. Then, it became possible to find out what people were doing. Remember Friends Reunited? That was the last time I knew what anyone was doing. I know that if I joined Facebook I could probably find out in minutes. But I kind of like leaving them back there, when we were all five, or sixteen, or twenty. And of course, though, I left, plenty, like my own brother, stayed, and are still in touch with these people who have known them for 30 plus years.
My mum tells me that she’s bought my birthday present. In my mind, my birthday is months away. Mid-September. I never think about it before September, perhaps because it’s the only birthday I don’t have to think about. I still don’t want to be 38.
There is a collective aspect to the sadness. Nearly everyone we know is devastated by the ‘Leave’ vote. T’s class of nine-year-olds are heartbroken. Everything is uncertain. And we’re at that point in the term, two weeks before the summer break, where it seems impossible to catch hold of anything — concerts, sports days, parties, picnics, school meetings about next year — we’re just accelerating towards the end. It doesn’t help that the weather is persistently awful: wet, cold, predictably unpredictable. It’s the stage of just holding on, holding on and hoping.
Back soon with some more short story recommendations.