Is it enough that I can say, yes, I am fond of you, you are a good person, and it is good that you are in my life, you, and you, and you – merely that I know you is a thing to be treasured? Is it enough that I can look out of the window and enjoy the shapes and shadows of the clouds and the sharpness of fresh air through my curtains? Is it enough that I have eyes to see and hands to feel and a brain to think and a mind to ponder? Is it enough to know that there are so many years yet to come and so many things I cannot even dream of now, so many places that one day I will have gone, friendships I will have made and lost, connections created, minds changed, hearts both grown and scarred? The world is at your feet, and mine, and yours, and yours, and yours, and it is not perfect, but it is larger than we can really conceive, and if you can believe that is enough, then whatever is happening now is surely alright, because it is no more than a drop in the river, and as they always say, you never step in the same river twice. If you can embrace that, then go on, wade right in, dive. Spread your wings and fly.
Monthly Archives: May 2011
Here is some tedious backstory (well, it’s not tedious to me, but it’s my room, so, well): Four years ago my parents (and me, and my sister) moved into our new house, and I took the attic room, and although it’s a fantastic space, it had some huge disadvantages, and then there were all the building works, and basically what happened was that most of my belongings have now been in boxes for rather a long while, but my room has now been beautifully decorated and there are shelves all down one side and a beautiful new wardrobe and it’s looking truly wonderful and finally functioning as a room – although I haven’t yet seen it completely finished – so when I get home that means I actually finally have to properly unpack.
I don’t know if you know how much I hate packing and unpacking things. It’s almost a phobia. I will do almost anything else in the entire world, honestly. At the same time, it’s thinking-unpacking: what stays, what goes, what’s getting put where, what can I reasonably put back into the loft, what can get subsumed into the vast collection of General House Books or Other Things.
Worse than that, do you know what I was for a reasonable proportion of those three years, and the several preceding it? A teenager. An articulate, thinking, eloquent human being with a hugely inflated sense of self-importance, a lexicon of almost savant-esque proportions, and far too many emotions to reasonably vent in any normal way, and what this basically means is that a ridiculous proportion of all those scary, scary boxes is filled with paper. Hundreds (literally) of notebooks. Ream upon ream of scraps of paper. Drawings, jottings, lists, diagrams, strange doodles, treatises, massive long screeds of almost novel-like length, it’s all in there.
Part of me would honestly like to burn the lot. Celebrate my birthday by having a bonfire and feeding all those teenage ramblings into the smoke. But another part of me thinks that part of those writings might actually be worth reading or keeping or at least knowing about, not because of their intrinsic artistic merit (as you may have gathered, I hardly think so) but just out of affection for the strange being I used to be, curiosity about the way I used to think and feel, you know. Get rid of 90% of it but keep the rest in the darkest most secluded corner, in a box I’ll almost certainly never open again. But intelligent sorting is going to take days. Never mind, such is life.
Anyway, I half-heartedly did get started last time I was at home, and I found The List. This is an idea I might have mentioned to some of you before. My cello teacher when I was about 17 was not much older than I was, and usually – it was the end of both our days, my 7.30 Tuesday lesson, and the last ten minutes of my hour’s lesson were, quite frankly, all about the gossip – her boys, my boys, her friends’ news and mine. She was of an age where she was starting to want to really settle down, find a decent bloke, and she’d been thinking, and someone had told her about The List.
So, here’s what she told me. Sit down, with a piece of paper and a pen, and write, down the left-hand side, a list of all the things you want in a life partner. Not too vague – you want about thirty or forty things on it – but be wary of being too specific either. You don’t want your list to describe in extravagant detail the one person you can’t get out of your head right now – do your best to avoid bias, don’t write ‘obsessed with newts’ unless that’s your Big Thing too, but you could write something about ‘interesting hobbies’ or ‘a bit geeky’ (nearly wrote ‘gecko’ there, incidentally. Gosh I’m tired) or something.
And then, across the top (this is basically a chart) write the names of all the people you’ve ever been in a relationship with, majorly obsessed over, or have kind of never-quite been involved with, not fancied despite being perfect for each other, or indeed anyone who is basically at all relevant to the question at hand. Write them left to right in chronological order (probably don’t bother with that boy you ‘married’ in year 1, but you get the point).
And then get ticking. Every quality that each person has, put a tick below their name next to that quality. If you’re sensible, you’ll get more ticks for each person the closer you get to your most recent dalliance. If you’re really, really sensible, that list will tell you what you need to know about whether or not you should ask Next Possible Person out.
Anyway. I found my list. I made that list when I was 17, and despite all the angst and dreadful dye jobs and terrible record with boys at the time, that list is actually pretty accurate, even now. I no longer exclusively fancy men who are good at badminton, but I do still like men with good shoulders, and there’s only one man on that list who doesn’t like coffee. I went through and ticked off all the significant chaps in my life since that list was made, and yes, that rule very much held true – and certainly goes some way towards explaining the last eighteen months in my life. I’ve been ignoring one or two crucial items, and meeting a number of individually lovely but ultimately not-right blokes. Sorry (whey, arbitrary flippancy. It honestly wasn’t meant to sound like that…!).
When I get home, I’m finding that list, and folding it up and putting it into my purse – you know, that annoying pocket which mainly seems to contain Boots ‘double points’ vouchers, stamp cards (‘get your 10th coffee free!’), postage stamps, and out-of-date train tickets. You know you have a pocket just like it. And next time I meet someone, I can save time on all that first-date angst and hair blow-drying and clothes-obsessing, I can save money on drinks and silliness, and when my gut instinct says ‘this isn’t going to go anywhere’, I can check the list, and know straight away that my gut doesn’t lie because the list, so far, is always right. Then I can lavish all that blow-drying time and drinks money on someone who statistically at least actually has a realistic chance…
That said, anyone who reads this entry is going to back well away. Whoops.
Alright, not of me. Well, yes of me, but mainly of my cardigan. It’s not hte best garment in the world, there are things I would have done differently or better or whatever, but personally I’m proud because it has sleeves and pockets and it fits and I can and do wear it probably far too bloody often.
Don’t worry, you can also have a photo of me in said cardigan. Hang on.
Oh wait I’ve worked out the easy and obvious way to wrap images now. Clicking the appropriate ‘alignment’ option, as opposed to writing some actual real CSS (I think) which is what I did for the previous image.
Now I feel both stupid and clever. Also I apologise hugely for the picture of me. It’s blurry and dark and annoying, I know: I’m sorry, this is about the best you’re going to get of me taken by myself. I told you I was bad at this.
Anyway. There you go.
I made a cardigan. It is not terrible. Now: revision time.
If I had my time again, if I could say some things to my younger self, and if I thought for a second that she would actually listen, then I would say it.
Knowing what you want to do is one of the worst things about being a teenager. One of the best, as well, because some days you think you could do anything, and some days, perhaps, you’re right. But there are so many things to think about. What you’re good at, what you enjoy, what you’re driven to do, what choices are sensible, what ideas are realistic. These are all very different angles on the problem. What if you’re good at a lot of things and you enjoy a lot of things and a lot of those things are eminently sensible things you could feasibly do for the rest of your life, have a comfortable income, an enjoyable career, 2.4 kids and a Volvo?
What if, very early on in life, you subconsciously made the decision that a certain path wasn’t right for you. That the risks were too great, that by taking that path you’d come to hate the thing you simply couldn’t bear not to love? That you’d hate the inevitable downsides so much that, soul-destroyingly, those disadvantages would destroy, for you, any possible joy you might have got from doing this thing with your life? It’s very easy to convince yourself, without even trying, that you’d hate a certain thing, and that’s reason enough not to take a certain choice, when at the back of your mind you know, really, that you wouldn’t hate it.
I was always told as a child in Careers classes and so on that you shouldn’t pick subjects just because you were good at them, or avoid things you enjoyed because you knew you’d probably get a better mark in a different subject or because whatever university you wanted to apply to would be more likely to pick you with a more ‘academic’ A-level. We were always told, no, you should choose the subjects you want to do, and take it from there. And stupidly, I thought I had. I chose things I enjoyed and was good at, never let myself feel swayed by the pressure to take this route or that route – after all, I didn’t want GCSE Art or Drama or PE, I wanted to do the sensible choices. Except that somewhere in the back of my mind, long before I was made to take any of those choices, I ruled out the one thing I do best, simply because it wasn’t sensible. I shut that thought out at the age of about 14, and I never looked at it again, and I fooled myself into thinking that everything since has been a labour of love. And it has – but it has also been a labour of second-best. If I’d jumped the other way at the age of 14, who knows where we’d be now.
But I’m going to talk about knitting instead, because I’m just that brilliant. I worked out, today, how to do colourwork, so I’m knitting something with a tree pattern on it. It’s meant to be an iPhone cover, but although the tree pattern, which I designed myself, is looking fantastic (you know that jumper from The Killing, the Danish detective thing with Sarah Lund and the amazing scandinavian jumper she basically wears in every single episode? Yes. It’s a bit like that. But tiny), I have somehow however managed to misestimate how wide and long it has to be in order to hold a phone, so it’s going to be far too big, I think, and I may have to unravel it. I’ll finish it and see how it looks before I bind off because with some clever (for which read excessive) hemming, and perhaps a cotton lining of some kind, it might be OK, but if I finish it and it’s too gigantic for words I’ll simply have to start again. It seems silly that I can do something clever, like design the pattern for a tree, but I can’t do something easy, like do the right amount of knitting to fit around a phone. Oh well.
The only important bit of that paragraph was the bit where I said I worked out how to do colourwork and designed my own colourwork pattern.
I will take photos. Eventually. Right now, though: sleep.
I’m not very good at taking photos of myself. I don’t mean this in a self-deprecating girly oh-I-look-so-terrible-in-photos kind of a way, I literally mean that I seem to have major issues with accurately pointing my camera at my body or a mirror and then taking a photo of me wearing a cardigan with any degree of spatial accuracy. You can have, if you like, a photo of half my mirror, complete with flash glare and an embarassing amount of dust caught in said glare on the mirror. You can have a picture of a random bit of stocking stitch. You can have me, blurred, in semi-darkness.
The ridiculous thing about all this is that in real life I’m quite good at taking photos. I fully intend to stick up a few from my recent trip to Edinburgh, and some good photos I took over the holidays, in the Peak district and at Chatsworth House. You’re going to have to wait for those because I’m a lazy mare, and because putting photos up here first means shrinking them down to an acceptable size and faffing about for a while which is fine if it was just one shot of me looking visible in a cardigan with my camera skilfully obscuring my face, but since I’d like to put up at least ten of the aforementioned scenery and flowers and Edinburgh and whatnot… too much like hard work.
In other news I’ve just spotted the ‘writing helper’ bar in WordPress – options include ‘copy a post: use an existing post as a template’; and ‘request feedback: get feedback on this draft before publishing’. Is it hugely awful of me to think that if you need to ‘use an existing post as a template’ or look for extensive feedback on the things you’re planning on publishing, you perhaps shouldn’t be writing a blog? Or rather, I fail to understand why, if writing is something you find difficult, you would actually want to run a blog if you need that level of assistance in order to do so?
In other news again, I’m having a great few days. Lots of good stuff is happening, lots of things are coming together, and it’s all quite jolly.