Sunday, May 3

Be Positive (Too Late)

I MISS THE HOLIDAY very much, and already it seems so long ago.
The plane broke through the low London clouds Saturday morning at seven o’clock and the chill in the air made me feel good so that I discarded my coat. I saw my family off in the car park; close to tears I walked away – ‘I love you,’ said my mother, and I did not want to leave them. Back through grimy London I travelled, weak and tired, thinking about a great many things.
The flat was empty. It was clean, but it was empty. It smelled, too, unpleasant, stale. The tree outside of the window had sprouted leaves that made a sound in the wind. The tree spun to me, showing off its new dress.
All of the activity had gone, all the company that I had treasured had, in one long morning, been taken away. All the silence was too much. I unpacked my clothes. They smelled of my niece, or so I thought they did; I could not be sure, but the smell reminded me of my niece, whom I missed terribly. The flat was cold. In the bathroom, I underdressed and my clothes, as I pulled them off, smelled of my niece. Why did I smell of her? I wished to study her small fingernails again and feel her soft skin.
I could not stand being in the flat alone so I left. Exhausted, I was slow in my travels. On the tube, I fell asleep and awoke with a start just before my stop. I got something to eat and looked at the crowd. I do so love this country. It was good to sit there because all the movement muddled my mind and I did not feel so bad. Despite the distraction, I was too tired and made for home.
Home is a word I force myself to use for the flat, as it no longer feels like one. A lot of things within it remind me bitterly more than they comfort me. To be inside is a trifle upsetting. There is a lot of post in the box; mostly electricity companies threatening me. I put the letters in a pile, and slept.
There was not much goodness when I woke up. I told my family that I missed them and looked at the day get dimmer. The tree’s leaves fluttered like a ball gown. I reminisced; I thought of things like ‘This time yesterday…’ or ‘This time last week…’ I saw all of the things I had enjoyed in my head. There were the evenings when my parents and I sat in the bar, drinking and playing cards. There were the times when I sat by the pool with my mother and niece, with a beer in the sunshine, watching the water glisten. There were the walks I took with my parents, which, at the time, had seemed so insignificant but were all I could dream of when so lonely. Their company was wonderful for me and not once did I think of it disappearing again. As difficult as the past couple of months have been, they were a cool relief. I wept and then made dinner, however I was not hungry but it was something to do.
Today I was determined not to be alone and asked some friends if they wanted to meet for a drink: ‘I’m in Canterbury’; ‘I’m visiting my brother’; ‘I’m in Brussels, mate.’
I went back to sleep until half-one and then got up. I went into town where it was very warm. Just walking around made me nauseous. With a coffee, I went to the National Museum and sat outside. It was busy so I took my place at the end of the wall, away from the crowd, but the crowd followed and smothered me so I got up and moved and they followed no more. The coffee was tasty; it was lovely sitting there but the sight of ubiquitous couples gnawed at me so that I wanted to be half of one again. It would have been better.
Down High Holborn I felt that there were tears in my eyes so I ducked into another coffee shop. It was quiet in there, and only two couples, both more interested in their phones than each other. The girl behind the till sung everything; she sung ‘hello’ and she sung ‘good-bye’. She lightened my mood. The weather was kind and warm. A red wind came down the way.
I had gone to Holborn with L— and she was in such a good mood, she was all over me, dancing and rubbing my side and kissing me when she felt like it and it all made me very happy; white joy filled me and everything was good. I thought of that when I pulled my ticket out of my pocket, when I dripped with sweat, when I saw the other couples on the Central line.
I alighted a stop early and walked the route. Strange that something I learned at such a young age can still bring me such pleasure! Home was not too appealing but I went towards it, bought two bottles of beer and a bottle of cheap wine. There was a special on the wine; a quid off.
I told my family—‘I miss you all.’
My mother replied—‘O, darling, I miss you!’
Every time she and I drank together she would order a frozen cocktail, drink it too fast and then put her head in her hands—
‘Brain freeze?’
‘Though I suppose in your case it’s just “freeze”.’
She winced a smile at me.

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