There is a window of joy in my life – on a wall in a city of despair. I look through it sometimes. I always see you there. King of my sorrows. Star of my light.
I remember the moment when I knew. When I first saw the light shining through it. I opened it – as if by instinct – and it let in a storm. But there was something beautiful about the deluge; the way it tore through the rooms and carried off the clutter. Leaving only simple things.
Meanwhile, I cancelled all my clients and sank into the daughterless quiet of a newly hollow house – with only my absurd obsession to help me count the hours. In my noisy skull, the clatter and bang of a torrid fixation – where even knowing the hullaballoo is self does not stem the onrush. When the ocean stirs all the fixtures are likely to be washed away.
The phone was only silent because you said so.
And the days were like an ache – and the nights were sable with pining – and somewhere in between fractured sleep and awful dreams everything seemed to stop. The details became redundant, dropped away. We were down to the core. The loving itself. The simple act of shining. Painting it all in splendour.
Indy was less charitable. Understandably so.
You made your choice.
How could I deny it? My hunger, my darkness, my sex – they all chose the same thing – and it wasn’t her. On her thirteenth birthday Indy discovered that her mother was a liar. That she had spoken in one tongue only to sing in another. That she was made of sweat and shit and meat and need. Of craving – and of doubt. That she was not above it.
It was a weirdly wonderful experience. Like a cleansing of sorts. A kind of release. Or an offering to the truth. A discarding of the many conceits they call wisdom. Nothing I thought I knew was going to help me. No play of words would win out. The fantasy of my righteous enlightenment was simply the final hurdle. Once my longing had destroyed it I was free.
You’re fucking crazy Mum, was all Indy could snarl.
Again I couldn’t argue. Even the resort of denial was withdrawn. I was like a child – a newly naked sapling scrubbed clean by a Category Five. Alive but shivering.
She was like the voice of the world. Mouthing the garbage I taught her.
I thought about my own mother. Her silences. Her grievances. The way she seemed to cut me adrift. It wasn’t that she ever stopped loving me – it was just that her love made it too hard to watch. As if she knew what was coming and couldn’t bear to live it all again. Desire makes you choose. It demands surrender or denial. Both promise to liberate the soul. Mum made her choice. I made another. One day we may find out if either of us was right. But probably not.
Perhaps one day Indy will work it out for us. I hope so. Until then she will continue to blame me for the crack that has opened up in our lives – and she will keep saying things like: When are you gonna grow up, Mum? It’s embarrassing.
That’s when it started. The counting. The tagging and logging. As if to stop me forgetting. To lay down the cold milestones of memory.
What is it they say? And from these bones all things shall grow. I spoke aloud about getting distance from the drama but I sought the maelstrom with every thought. In a way, I lived on it.
That which was my undoing, so was it my salvation.
And then the phone blared in the night – and everything I said and thought was upended. There was something I wanted from you that I wanted more than sanity and functioning. Something I saw through that window. A way to feel. A way not to be afraid.
I woke up on a peak hour train. $800 in my hand. Lumbering black eyed to book a flight I knew I shouldn’t. Another sad face in the crowd. Another lotto dreamer. Except you were my prize – and just as improbable.
But there I was – pillaging the nest egg. Trading the future for a desperately dirty weekend.
I looked around the carriage and I wondered how many of my fellow travellers were on journies of their own – were more than just tired rats on their way to another experiment. I saw eyes all around me but little else was visible. The eyes maybe the key to the soul – but they are also its secret keepers. The whole train was hiding behind them.
I felt small – less important – but unburdened because of it – and I realised that the detail of my prattle was of no more significance than anyone else’s. I was not above this river of flesh. I was in the rapids with them.
But then I was disgorged – spilling into the impatient broil of a 9am platform and I was a disoriented ant. On its way to buy a ride in the sky. Hoping for a window seat.