Tuesday, February 5

Detergents

There is blossom on the trees on junction of Houndsditch onto Whitechapel, or rather there was. There was one day when I noticed blossom on the trees near the road. I noticed the blossom on that day, and that day only. I cannot remember the day, it was a couple of weeks ago – who knows, January is so long – but I have not seen it since. The trees are at the intersection of two roads, so the wind blows down there very fast. I expected to see the blossom carousing about my feet, but it didn’t, and I haven’t seen it since. I thought–‘You’re here too early and will surely freeze.’ Usually I can ignore such typically exciting things, but the blossom – that particular kind – reminds me of the road where my mother lives, because the blossom grows there too. It is untainted by dirty city air and grows in large bunches, colourful in large bunches, drops in large bunches and blows about the ankles in large bunches. It is best the blossom waits its turn. Hopefully it will come back.
It’s so easy to be deterred. I find everything so hard to deal with.
They met when they were fourteen. They fell in love when they were eighteen. They married at twenty-two. They met me when they were twenty-six. Now they are thirty-seven. At eighteen she told him–‘I cannot have children.’ He is a dear friend and I love him, perhaps I know him and perhaps I imagine he did not take this news well, but he loved her and that was that. One cannot help such matters, of the heart or body.
When she told me about it–‘He jump on top of me and now I’m pregnant.’ For a long time (two months) she walked about with the baby growing inside her; only when she demanded another breakfast at the cafe one Saturday morning did he suggest she may be pregnant. She did the test and discovered she was.
I asked him in the bar if the story about her inability to get pregnant was true. For years I had wondered why they had no children but thought it too rude to ask. (One of my best friends’ dad died in a house fire when he was young. Another friend found out while browsing news articles on the internet. One night while discussing our fathers we expected him to lean in and open up about this matter that he kept so tightly concealed. He never did. It is man’s way, no less.) When I asked, he said that yes, she hadn’t been able to get pregnant. Immediately his soft eyes began to glisten and then to tear. He turned, ashamed of his emotion. In the loud and busy pub I went around to him and put my hand upon his shoulder; I told him not to be sad but happy because he had a new life, but he the tears kept coming. I embraced him and told him I loved him and that he had a family now, which I was sure he already knew, so I patted his back to ensure him that maybe everything would be okay
He left the country on Sunday morning. I don’t know when I will see him again. It’s so easy to be deterred.
Huge passages of time run me by, and I am truly glum. I recoil onto my sofa and push the day away. For the life of me I crave a drink, but, no, I cannot. On Tuesday night I went out and got terribly drunk and spoke to someone in my building, but they regarded me strangely and I wished them good-night. I must not drink any longer. I made it two days, then I went down the pub again. I was so glad to drink that I spent a horrific amount. The next morning I woke up and sighed. It was a beautiful day and the sun was golden. That evening I was due to visit a friend, but confronting the social occasion seemed almost insurmountable. I should not think too much about things. I walked to my friend’s and bought drink along the way. We drank long into the night. At three in the morning he asked me– ‘Shall I open another bottle?’ I told him– ‘No. Let’s not.’ I left an hour later. My mouth was dry and I stared at the life that huddled outside cornershops and in alleys down my road. I was happy. I was happy I had gone along. I have nothing to write. I had nothing to say. But I got home and I was happy. In fact it had seemed like the first time all week when I hadn’t felt like life wasn’t some awful joke. My bedsheets were cold, they weren’t crisp. I felt a breeze from the closed window. It was so easy to be deterred by things.

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