Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Flapping at my kitchen wall

I thought if this lament is unending then lord let us cry. I was curled like an old plastic chip packet heated in the oven, inelegantly wetting the front of my shirt with an unrelenting flow of tears when a crow hit The Peach windows with a powerful thud and crumpling of feathers. Some days are wet with soup, tea and tears. Some days demand you walk up and down the hallway or follow the movement of light across the floor. This day I needed nothing more than to have freedom enough to feel.

The bird flew away but I was left stunned with my hands on the kitchen sink, immobile and staring at the place where the bird collided with my glass wall. The phone rang, it was Artboy, I made a silent dash and scramble to pause The Way We Were and shake off my crow-weirdness. Hubbell stood frozen at the end of Katie's hospital bed staring at her as his wife for the last time. I don't know how she stood it. I can see why everybody was going crazy for Barbara Streisand, her hands are entirely elegant and there is something about the way she stands and delivers a line. I talked to Artboy for  hours while I stared at the frozen Hubbell in his Hollywood jacket and Cobra Kai haircut. I suppose the bad man from The Karate Kid was trying to look like Robert Redford but it took until today to work that out. I've never seen The Way We Were before.

A submerged and profound grief rolled in me like a whale in a pool as I spoke to Artboy today.  Talking to anyone else feels like a waste of words but then I catch myself and remember I have my own life now. I have this freedom and joy. I have a house in the city and a media pass. I have friends and a magazine and a small but respectable stack of published work. I have my cat and my desk and I can tell people at parties that I am a Rock Journalist and it is not a lie. I told Artboy nobody ever thinks of Ted Hughes, what it must have been like to live with Sylvia Plath as her illness consumed every corner of his life. I don't know how he stood it.

After Artboy and the close of one of those conversations that jump syllable to syllable like synapses I finished The Way We Were and moved on Into The Wild. It was one of those stories that Loene Carmen sums up best by saying 'trying to romanticise what a cunt you are'.* He had a kind of Superman syndrome where he took the ordinary troubles of life and wound them so tight around his heart and fists that he was punching everyone, including himself, without feeling the blows. Stopped the beat of his heart because he thought he was only one who heard the noise of it. I didn't notice this about Superman until it was too late and I was interstate and trapped inside a house with his family's Christmas leftovers.

I didn't weep for the man who fled like a child into the wild but I did weep. I wept great heaving soundless sobs while I knelt down to choose movies, I wept as I washed dishes in the sink, spread marmalade on my toast, poured tea from the pot. There was no great sorrow, my mind was on ordinary matters much as it always is. I formatted my new hard drive sitting on the lounge room floor taking care not to tip tears into the keyboard of my laptop. My need for unfettered expression was profound, solid as the foundations of the earth. I suppose it as simple as this, monsoons sometimes happen as far south as Sydney.

* From the album Rock'n'Roll Tears - listen to it.

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