Sunday, 5 August 2007

The storm before the calm

What I think may be some kind of upturn started early on Friday while consulting a style guide and hacking my way through a badly-written government document.

It fizzed along my spine like the detonator on a cartoon bomb.

Because an attack is often preceded by an inexplicably sudden and drastic mood change, I began to prepare for the mother of all migraines.

So far, I am not banging my head into a pillow in pain.

At this stage I am trying not to focus too much on the explanations dancing their way through my head: Am I coming out of the other side? Am I starting to feel better?

Is this what normal feels like?


Two nights before, courtesy of an unexpected meltdown and a bumpy trip in the big yellow and white taxi with the green-uniformed drivers, I wound up at the A&E department of Charing Cross Hospital.

Finding myself at the end of the street before I called is how I knew it was coming.

When they arrived, they asked me why I was not a hundred yards down the road in my flat. I told them I had tried to get some air, but what I meant was "I didn't want anyone to see."

There were no blue lights, because there never are.

Until it was my turn to be evaluated, somewhere behind the woman in pyjamas resting a carrier-bag full of medication on her lap, they put me in a makeshift waiting room with the walls plastered bare.

Apparently, they're renovating too.

Because I had closed my eyes tight against the threat of rivulets of embarrasment, I knew that the Polish stranger sitting three plastic chairs away from me had moved only when I felt his arm around my shoulder. It did not matter that of his many words of comfort, the only ones I understood were "Smile, yes? Smile".


I could not tell you for how long I was there, only that when the lights became too bright and the leads became an annoyance and not a comfort, it was time to go home.

The old woman I passed on the way through the automatic doors was pushing a shopping trolley, her shoes made of plastic bags and the laces holding them in place from a material I could not make out in the half darkness, intricately woven with obvious care. I wondered if her smile was due to pride in her feat of engineering.

I thought of the shoes on Thursday morning, when the mountain seemed too large to climb, and forced myself. Got up. Left the flat. Went to work. Came home.


On Friday, I was at my desk before the clock ticked around to eight.


I have not told the story of the run-up for self-gratification; it is because I am cautious that this may not last, and if it does not, I may need a reminder that the situation is benign.

It almost feels wrong to be accomplishing some things, to be on top of others, and to have plans. The first draft of half of a short-story collection, for example, which even has a theme. The idea around which every one will be constructed is planted firmly in my head; they will interweave and reflect because that is how life works.

The tiredness now is of a different kind, of running on little sleep not because it eludes me but because it is not necessary; a tiredness born of living and breathing, and of making hay while the sun beats down.


bohémienne said...

Sounds like you have an awesome idea for the short-story collection. Definitely hold on to this moment... it sounds like things are very good.

An Unreliable Witness said...

Is this what normal feels like?

I have no idea. And nor does anyone else, quite honestly. Even the 'normal' people don't, such as they are.

Normal is what feels good to you. Normal to you.

Long may it continue. Long may it revisit.

miles away said...

interweaving and reflectiveness are two wonderful devices - especially when tiny thought paths cross like spaghetti strands in the bowl of existence.

Good luck with your writing.