Just A Dreamer
It seems so long since I wrote freely here. I make excuses. Too many people know and see me each day now, who read my writing, and I must make amends to my self-expression. I must not upset or concern them. I must protect them from their worry. Nonsense. I forbid myself to think as such, let alone to act as such. So what do I want to tell you?
The reader, you, that I am writing to is a person such as I am, such as I was, someone with the same urges and dreams and fears and questions about life, and how to live it. Preoccupied with the stuff of life, I find myself stepping out of the flow of creativity, of self-expression. I find myself trapped in the expectations of others, on collaborations that are controlled, focused on a final outcome that we each contribute to, but which are not wholly my own. That is not what I am here for. I am here to be Queen of my own Kingdom, to rule over the realm of my imagination. I am unlike anyone I know, my creativity unlike anyone’s either. I am the best me imaginable. And I am constantly changing, growing, adapting and transforming. I notice myself holding onto the things of the past, lamenting a future I seem unable to grasp, and beholden to my desires. I am not perfect.
One of the things that used to motivate my writing was the perception that everything was moving so fast, that life was too beautiful to comprehend, and that I was going to miss something if I didn’t record it in some way. I wrote to capture life in all it’s mystery, misery and wonder. I didn’t want to forget. Have I forgotten, now? I don’t think we do forget, deep down. I feel I have remembered things I can’t recall, and it is my body that remembers, the thought or feeling tucked away in a particular nook, unable to be reached logically, but intuitively. So, I haven’t lost anything. There is only new space created, things sorted and folded, placed orderly or otherwise deeply within, for me to retrieve someday when the hours beckon. There is space, now, for newness. It’s up to me. What next? What do I want to fill myself with for this next phase of life? As within, so without.
I wake sometimes, even in the day from strange dreams, and it dawns on me, “oh yes. That’s right. I’m in this body. And this life. And this time. Oh yes. That’s what I’m doing. I’m doing this,” as if returning to my body after being completely elsewhere, perhaps everywhere. Then there are the dreams where I’m walking in heels that are too high, too small, or broken. In these dreams I can’t walk properly and I’m always being watched. At first I wondered what this dream meant; I’ve had it four times. Then I realised that of course, in every sequence I’m having trouble moving forward in shoes that don’t fit me. There’s also the fact that most of the time, all eyes are on me. Expectations. Others’ and our own. We are but human, and perhaps the dim light cast by our expectations shines some path ahead for us, perhaps only a few steps, in reality.
I don’t do what I do for the attention of others, but for the gentle pressing from within which says write. Sadly, I have overpowered that quiet voice more times than I care to admit. Sometimes there is another voice, meaner and spiteful, which asks me, “Why are you not writing?” and I have to tell it, “because I am busy,” or more often, simply “because you are there.” The Critic stands guard over certain documents, and questions everything I think with hands on hips. I’ve recently learnt that this Critic is not an ally. (You’d think we’d figure that out from the moment it speaks.) While it may seem to be hustling and jostling me to work, it is the very way it does so which is problematic – igniting fear, doubt, and a sense of duty.
There have been stories upon stories that have spilt from my hands, and they have all taught me something. Yet there have also been experience upon experience that have spilt from my life, and these have taught me the most. Life offers itself to our imagination, asking for nothing, and everything. I want simply to keep up with the magic itself, to stay present, out of the past, beyond the future. There is life here, everywhere, and we are it. The leaves shimmer in the wind, glow in the sun, the flowers bloom as the seasons shift. The sun drops to the sky as we spin around and around it, here for a time, and then somewhere else entirely, but not forgotten. We are here making marks in the ways that inspire us, grappling with the mysteries of life, of purpose, these wellsprings of idea, impulse, desire and duty. Life, what a life. In all its seasons, let us love it.
Every time I see a child, something happens to me. It’s not just any child that makes me look twice, seeking their eyes, their spirit; it’s the ones who look like my older brothers, or myself. I was passing a young boy when I realised this, whose features I can’t detail anymore, only to say that he looked like my brother did when he was five. Is it because I miss my youth? It might be a mixture of things. I also understand now why I’m drawn to my little cousin, why I can't help but want the very very best for her. She is just like me when I was her age. She’s 4, and being with her I am hanging out with myself, age 4. When I was into drawing, and writing. When my best friends were my brothers, when I wanted to be a ballerina, and ignored my love of stories. It was a time when I was completely free, when my idols were bizarre, like hers. I introduced, or plan to introduced 2015 girl to Harry Potter, Storybook Weaver, The Sims, Anne of Green Gables, Little Women. It was 2002 when I was four, and I hated dresses, but loved Barbie, and playing. The presents I choose for her birthdays, and Christmases, are the things I loved then, loves I am too old for. Games that let her tell stories, books that she will come to love, I have a feeling she's going to be very similar to who I am, but better. Her imagination is incredible, and I wish I could capture it in a tiny bottle, and make sure she keeps it forever.
Today, 2002 girl is all grown up (somewhat), and she’ll Google an image of the place she grew up in, the very name of which sounds slightly as if could come out a fairy-tale (“Mossend”) before experiencing a weirdly narcotic pang from within the sternum region and pin pricks behind the eyes , realising “I remember that.” It’s not just the image, either: There is something about the atmosphere of 'home'. Some kind of vibration. There's something about finding your own face among those that come up, a younger you, someone you don't quite recognise but know all too well. What happens to a person over time? What happens to our memories, to our experiences? What is a memory? Where does it live? What is my “mind” if it’s not locatable in the brain? How do I accumulate things, and how do I organise them? Why do they return?
How do I keep attuned to the culture I’m now living in, without letting go completely of the culture from which I came? Do I bother? Attuning? Do I bother letting go? Do I want to let go? No. Am I nostalgic? Yes. Do I want to go back in time? Never! Do I want to move forward? Where are we going? How will I get there? My younger self would only have cared about the former, the where, but not the how. Never the how. It doesn’t matter how, just as long as we remember the why. Ah, why, the most mysterious question of all. The impenetrable why. The unanswerable why. The random choice, the ‘just because’, the ‘so it was’, the ‘it shall be.’
The house I grew up was tiny. People who came to visit were tricked by the wide front of it, half obscured as it were by an ivy-covered fence barricading a prim but overgrown back garden. This garden used to be my favourite place. Deep, and dark like secrets, no one cared much for it but I liked it that way: The strange burgundy coloured leaves of a thin, tightly barked tree, the tire swing; the rampant hairy tangles of ivy stems, trailing like ballet arms and legs around anything they could get a hold of. There was a zig zag crack through that fence, where I spied on passers-by. I don’t know what I was looking for. The thin lady who lived up the street and wore ankle length skirts, her hair short and swept to the side in a wave; our neighbour, who taught as all to ride our bikes. There was a community, an army of children, and gran lived round the corner. She lived next to a women I called my aunt, but we weren't related by blood. There was my child-minder, and her cats, who could never do enough and was the best on Halloween. I think, if I ever have children, the place where I was brought up in, that little tiny house and the tiny street and the fairytale town, will be told as such, even if it no longer seems plausible. It's gone now. We were six people, in a tiny house, on a tiny street, in a town shaped by fairy-tales. Now we're four- soon to be three people, in a bigger house, on a big estate of long, conjoined streets, in a town I'm not sure I want to stay long in. I don't know many of my neighbours. I know none of them well. It's sad when I put it that way.
Don't get me wrong, I live in a beautiful house now, and I couldn't imagine still sharing that tiny box room with my brother, but there was something magical about that place. That community. I wouldn't give it all to go back, but it would be nice, just to feel like that again. Growing up is strange. Ties break, but new ones are forming, people leave, and new ones arrive. It's a constant cycle of change.
But when people change, and lives change, our relationship with them changes too. I am in the bedroom that was once sectioned for the brother I knew so well. It seems now, though, that I knew him less than I thought I did. It is small and dark and quiet in here. What do I really know about him, them, the boys who came before from the same womb? Their tiny forming hands in the same watermelon-tight sac in my mothers abdomen? What do I really know? They are different people it seems, every day. I am too, I suppose, but it's still strange. I feel so disconnected from who I once was, and who they once were, and who we all are now, and the bond we have is different. I worry, sometimes, that I will never be as old as they are. They seem so much more aware than I do, so much more concerned. I remember when they were the age that I am now because they seemed so much older than I feel, a lot more ready to be who they are.
Maybe, it was because of how young I was then, I don't know. Maybe, I'm just a dreamer.