A sort of bubble – enormous, glinting all the colours there are in its wavering rim; around me. Or something solid, made of wood, with grains like eyes and ridges to ease a thumbnail along without thinking. A deep space under the earth, damp, half-lit, messy where I whisper things to you and you only smile; dip down into it, into you, seven times a day, just in between things. A complicated, clever, worldly mechanism, made of all the things I don’t understand; the relief that someone else is those things and I can watch. Mostly, the voice, which doesn’t change, and the gentleness of it, the quiet tones, the breath, pulls me from my stomach, jolts me, leans me in. Sometimes, stray words that buzz around between us and repeat themselves in places and things. The pressing. The heat. The sleep. The distance, so I can do things. The closeness, so I can be calm. A ready gaze, ready for changing, for mine; the seeing all things and knowing there’ll be more. The new life of your yeses. Sometimes I think I am bigger than I am meant to be, and growing bigger and bigger, and am taller than the earth. But made of fog and droplets. You can catch them, and water yourself with me, and other things too; be my size in different form, some other element; something certain and hot and your own. The hold, so I can dissolve, reform, forget everything after all. The space, in a smile, in an eye; the flashes which come from the ending to the beginning; the middle, which is where I am.
Nursery rhymes. Utter abandon. Twinkle twinkle little star. Then Disney (every single word to the Sing-along Disney video cassette with my older brother). Later, Nintendo 64, and idle humming – the soundtrack of concentration when zipping along, jumping for coins and racing racing racing (I always came second; I think this was my most relaxed). My favourite was Goldeneye, best game ever, though I don’t think I sang along to that – too scared; my younger brother could jump from behind a wall and shoot me at any moment if I didn’t hold my entire body taut or if I blinked.
Singing in the chorus of Orpheus & Eurydice. ‘Do not listen, Eurydice; Eurydice stay.’
Relentless a capella versions of Destiny’s Child’s Emotions in Design & Technology (the teacher wanting to encourage, but also wanting us to shut up). A 60s-style miniskirt (so short; I still have it) sewn with wild thoughts of becoming an internationally famous girl group (my friend was posh enough to have actual singing lessons at her house, which I was welcomed to once or twice when I was at her house after school. We sang two part harmonies which I can still remember to the T. She had a deadly serious idea that we could compete for the title of ‘most roly-polys in one minute’ and made us practise on a garden mat. She sucked a dummy. Her Mum served desiccated coconut with pitta bread at dinner time; I thought it was incredibly exotic. She is now, I think, an actual singer.) Continue reading
Can’t find a credit for this story anywhere, but I love this:
‘In a brief conversation, a man asked a woman he was pursuing the question: ‘What kind of man are you looking for?’ She sat quietly for a moment before looking him in the eye & asking, ‘Do you really want to know?’ Reluctantly, he said, ‘Yes. She began to expound, ‘As a woman in this day & age, I am in a position to ask a man what can you do for me that I can’t do for myself? I pay my own bills. I take care of my household without the help of any man… or woman for that matter. I am in the position to ask, ‘What can you bring to the table?’ The man looked at her. Clearly he thought that she was referring to money. She quickly corrected his thought & stated, ‘I am not referring to money. I need something more. I need a man who is striving for excellence in every aspect of life. He sat back in his chair, folded his arms, & asked her to explain. She said, ‘I need someone who is striving for excellence mentally because I need conversation & mental stimulation. I don’t need a simple-minded man. I need someone who is striving for excellence spiritually because I don’t need to be unequally yoked…believers mixed with unbelievers is a recipe for disaster. I need a man who is striving for excellence financially because I don’t need a financial burden. I need someone who is sensitive enough to understand what I go through as a woman, but strong enough to keep me grounded. I need someone who has integrity in dealing with relationships. Lies and game-playing are not my idea of a strong man. I need a man who is family-oriented. One who can be the leader, priest and provider to the lives entrusted to him by God. I need someone whom I can respect. In order to be submissive, I must respect him. I cannot be submissive to a man who isn’t taking care of his business. I have no problem being submissive…he just has to be worthy. And by the way, I am not looking for him…He will find me. He will recognize himself in me. He may not be able to explain the connection, but he will always be drawn to me. God made woman to be a help-mate for man. I can’t help a man if he can’t help himself. When she finished her spill, she looked at him. He sat there with a puzzled look on his face. He said, ‘You are asking a lot. She replied, “I’m worth a lot”.’
I am absolutely convinced that some people will only ever view the urge to travel as wanting to escape or run away from reality. I sit here with flutters in my chest, blood pumping, that familiar restlessness that has hit me over the last couple of days – come sooner than I expected, this time. I don’t want to go away because of hating my life – I love vast swathes of my life and many of the tiniest moments that make them up, I’m very happy, in fact – I’m not in search of anything, unless you count being in search of experience. I always want that – to know how everything feels. I think I want to greet or acknowledge my other possible selves. It is a strange thing to feel that you are made of so many components, and that you have scattered those components around the globe. There are parts of this planet that I genuinely feel I have stayed in; that to drop in to a particular country or revisit a recent place would be akin to catching up with myself; I see myself still in these places, getting on with things, living differently and looking up in a garden, casually, upon my arrival, face to face with myself, saying – oh, look at these flowers I planted; look how I started a band. It is these possibilities I chase or want to revisit.
It’s not just about myself though; it’s about this enormous, preposterous thing we live on; this earth. Continue reading
I am finding it continually fascinating how other people take up pavements. The space on pavements, I mean; I don’t mean they take up pavements as a hobby.
I’m in the sort of place (though imminently won’t be, as I’m on my way home within the next 24 hours) in which people are languid en route from A to B, they stop and dawdle and look to the left and the right at all the colours and ornate doors and floaty dresses swaying in the breeze (though we shouldn’t look anywhere but at the floor, perhaps, since health and safety isn’t much of a thing here, unless you take an importantly-positioned plastic bottle as enough of a ward against your head being spiked, and a string barrier enough of a gesture towards the community’s hope that a person won’t fall down a two-metre hole where a pavement has collapsed). Pavements seem, on the whole, precarious; they seem to simply fall down, upon looking at the evidence. Maybe it’s the earthquakes. Nothing a bit of make-shift wood can’t make a bridge over, anyway; otherwise simply a cone (or, if you don’t fancy the long-jump, a detour) will do.
A few days ago, arriving at a local community space for a tribal bellydance class (which had me afterwards ruminating about my oft-visited idea of teaching it as a side project, though I later wonder if what I mean is that I would love to simply perform more; of all the dances I’ve danced over a dance-filled life so far, it is by far the most intricate and the most sensual; the most hypnotic and precise), I bumped into a man I’d met here a year ago (we played scrabble together when the whole island shut down over Nyepi; he beat me to a pulp with his easy familiarity with two-letter bizarrities of the English language, only later letting me know that he’d competed successfully for years, by which time I was pretty sulky on the inside). He is an interesting and energetic fellow – speaks Indonesian fluently (I’d forgotten this; it was a surprise when we were ordering our juices together the next day at a secret hideaway warung I’d never been to before) and attends a multitude of AA meetings, dipping in and out of the UK doing short stints of social work to fund his spins on his bike around Bali. Anyway. He introduced me to the local library, which is just inches from my homestay but so tucked away I would never have known about it. Outside, the corridor of approach is lined with what appears to be an installation of giant water bottles; anyone can refill their own bottles for a fee. You have to crouch to hold your bottle neck under the giant bottle as though receiving a blessing.
As I entered the library, I felt like I was walking into a wonderland; Continue reading
Further to this post (‘Why you don’t like papaya?’) last year…
…This morning’s conversation with Ketut, the perpetually yawning, hand-shaking, backward-cap-wearing, eye-rolling, giggling, 24-year-old chatterbox (when not just woken up) and pillar of this Balinese homestay:
Me (stoicially eating papaya on the terrace outside my room after breakfast was delivered, total paradise and luxury but quite standard for low-cost accommodation here in Ubud, and something achieved either immediately upon waking or after a series of small coughs aimed to invite the offer of a fruit salad; there is no restaurant area; a tray comes when you have shown sign of life; in fact I have no need of a morning alarm, since part one of the morning ritual, at roughly 7am, involves tiny footsteps padding barefoot past my first-floor room and the slight music of a cup and saucer making contact on the wood-carved table outside; a huge flask of hot water and a tea bag is left for me to enjoy until I make myself known to the garden below by way of movement; wearing bright colours aids one’s ability to be noticed, which is fine by me, since I have a near pathological addiction to bohemian dresses in all colours of the rainbow): Good morning. Continue reading