Shot through with Red


I am in a black tunnel, travelling along in the dark early morning while the wheels of the express go clacketty clack, mirroring the anxious heart in me, how it would sound, could its rhythm be heard above the tiredness I am feeling.  Disorientation, jet lag… for it is not more than a few weeks ago that we buried you Dad.  I was caught in the whirlwind that blew, a storm we did not expect to stir up so swiftly, a storm that tore me away and changed irrevocably the landscape of my young adult life.

Into the void that was not a vortex, yet, the swirling tide of so many griefs that could not be fully recognised by the mind, lay encoded deep within cell tissue began to swirl deep in the being of me, creating a confused, hurting, longing anxious young woman who could not yet make any sense of these things.  Memories and dreamings now emerge slowly to awareness from the silted depths of the body/psyche that experienced them all those 30 years ago.

Can it be that long?

It seems like yesterday when you and I were in the pub working, trying to make a go of it in the cold London winter. In time we escaped, we could not hack it, the low pay, the long hours and the owner whose vision you said was eclipsed by lens made from the bottom of beer bottles.  How I loved your words.  How you expressed things in the journals in which we shared our thoughts.

Sweet boy, I see the torn card you gave me, darling – a portrait of lovers emerging from a background of blue shot through with tinges of red, echoing for me the bloody landscape of my ungrieved losses, losses that pulled me away from getting closer to you.

In my diary you wrote, I feel Deb pulling closer but I sense she is terrified of getting her fingers burnt. Those words only began to make sense to me in later years, I was so far away from myself then.

And now those precious memories come to me, the lovely dinner in the sweet French restaurant, the late night stroll past the windows of stores, the most special one housing the Mont Blanc pen you coveted but could not afford. The delicate earrings of ruby teardrops three a piece that you gave me for my birthday that cost 90 pounds, much, much more than you could afford on your teacher’s salary. I treasured them so much, but later after we broke up they were stolen from the first flat I owned in Sydney.

Can it really have been 30 years ago?

It seems closer to me now, that time than it was then.  I was some other person really.  And only lately am I becoming aware that memories may not always be source of pain, but of comfort too.   I only wish that my addiction and the rages and other defences against love all summoned up by fear could have been under my control then and I could have been more present, more adult, more conscious, more mature for us.

But then, we would not have been us if we were not the persons we were then. Youth is wasted on the young, someone said, but is it? Or is that just a saying born from the vision of old eyes filtered through lens of regret? Was any of it really a mistake? I don’t think so.  It was as it was and thinking not is only a way of creating torment.  Deep, deep down am glad for them now, those times we shared, that will never come again.

Now that I am on my own and all other loves have faded and gone I know they shaped me and this loss scared me as I ran with so much underground grief in my heart.  My wounds  came from love and were made by love thwarted and frustrated as it was, playing out to it’s sad conclusion. I wasn’t responsible, though it was my fault, a fault, a failing, a critical flaw placed in me by circumstance that would have to be worked out over long years of emotional recovery and therapy. So now in reconciling it all, in trying to make my peace I write it down for I know that all pain, all regret, all these demons, these are the rich fertiliser that feeds our art.

We can use each broken piece, assemble them anew to create a unique mosaic that has deep soul value and richness within it, if only for ourselves.  And if others want to care and know about it, or if it speaks to them, what gold is that for us as writers, artists working in this land of broken dreams.  Writing gives us another chance to assemble it into a digestible form after all the raging, hurt and tears are spent, we lie down in these broken pieces with bloody knees, humbled in a way we could not have been had not the tragedy taken place.

And hand in hand with this lost self we are retrieving we walk until with each step we take we form a path which leads us to a hallowed clearing within which we can lie down together, sleep, dream, reconcile our soul with who and what we thought we had, but never truly did leave behind all those years ago.


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