I wish I was a zen type, calm, knowing, thoughtful, quiet, measured, intelligent, but I’m not. I’m shouty and sweaty and opinionated, a jersey-on-inside-out sort of woman with entrails in the dust after a day with people. I think that is why i love being alone and at home, knitting and cleaning and writing. I have discovered I like cleaning tasks. Is that a worry???? Today i cleaned under the sink where the rubbish bin and the compost bucket are. I get unreasonable pleasure form looking at this clean surface. Am I going mad???
I also like cooking. Today it was a Heggie version of cumin and carrot soup with a Libby Weaver apply, walnut and mung bean salad with ginger dressing.
Sadly, this week was our last poetry assignment and it was to write a prose poem. I wrote about an incident that has stayed with me since I was a teenager because I was humiliatingly exposed as having “no taste” by my “friend” from school. Even thinking about it today brings back the painful memory of embarrassment. I hope you like it.
Blue girl with kitten
My mother and I had made a cautious treaty of sorts, masking teenage contempt on my part, passivity and what the neighbours thought on hers, to do up the bedroom recently gleefully vacated by two sisters and left lonely only to me, the honey-trapped. A futile and economic attempt to coerce me to stay, the youngest of six, the baby and a skite with it. A diary by the bedside spilling sixteen secrets when socks should have been pulled up and a lot less of being full of herself.
In shared and unique conspiracy we stood in awe and awkwardness at the end of the expensive, hushed furniture shop for snobs. There at the end she imperceptibly nodded royally at us in her blue gown. Her alabaster breast smooth, her coiffured hair recently prepared especially, her cute kitten held just so for the artist. We had been chosen, the crowd behind us gasped and laughed. The sound went unheard. Proudly we cashed up and purchased her in her plastic moulded gilt frame. For a split second, sophisticated, mother of coal-miners in Windermere and daughter of Roslyn.
A school friend, who knew everything accompanied by her clever arty and good looking boyfriend arrived by invitation to appraise. Later, he became famous. The blue girl was already regretful and balanced awkwardly and ungraciously on a chair in the dining room above the flowered carpet, lime green and vulgar yellow in the cold brick bungalow in Roslyn. Too small for six kids. It was something of a come down for her. With a little pride and their prejudice I introduced her, without curtsying of course. This was modern times. I saw them turn away with smarmy, smart-assed smirks behind their hands and in their met eyes. I died.
I, the boiled peasant girl, in stained calico and smelling of onions, who knew nothing, no one, eyes down, dishpan hands, dirt under the nails, a cleft palate, backed away, bowed from the blue girl’s disdain as though I should have known. I showed them the back door. I knew where that was.
But like the girl in the turquoise frills and flounces on arriving at the school ball to see the cool girl in the black, silk sheath how could I know? How could she?
Feel free to share your own memories of the crippling incidents of the teenage years. Yay, it’s good to be old! FG