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Archive for the ‘Age: 31-40’ Category

Tonight, I think of my younger self with eyes of endurance and focus, eyes wide and credulous. You take a handmade scroll and draw it open. For you, this evening is veiled in a fog of revelries. You tug at the gold ribbon, unwrap the printed paper. You’re reading and I’m by your side marvelling at my own work. I lose my cool though I probably never had it, or felt it once and took it held it watched it vanish again. What I don’t have within me by this age, I choose to lack. And you’re the final stranger.

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You tell me it won’t hurt a bit. I perch on the examination table and roll up my sleeve. Tapping at my veins, you inadvertently drop everything on the floor. Scuffling near my feet, you pick up spare needles and containers while one hand keeps the point in my arm throughout. You ask me if I’ll return to work. I will, but not before I eat a pain au chocolate and gape at the blue sky. As I leave I think, don’t speak to me: if you wish me luck, I’ll take your words and throw them out the window.

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Your fingers grip the edges of the staircase where we stand. I nod reassuringly to you, and your look is relief or even reprieve. She’s playing a sonata, your daughter and she’s nervous. A freckled and tiny person, just a schoolgirl uncomfortable in oversized casual clothes, out of uniform. The music is soothing, clear, light, the room quiet just for her and the piano. She finishes and you applaud and you wave, and you daughter stands, looks out into the audience and raises her hand to a sturdy woman in the second row. It’s the wrong mother but close enough.

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Umbrellas become weapons as we fight to the tube station. You elbow me as you pass and I square up, ready to fight. You say, What? I say, What? and we stare and we pause and you flick water in my eyes. I take each of my gloves, roll them together into a ball and aim at your nose. You see my arm draw back, raise an eyebrow and kick me in the knees. Today was going to be a fine day, a light day. As I lay on the ground; many people avoid me, many people try to help.

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I am in a rush, I hear the sound of my footsteps, the wheezing of the automatic door opening, the selection of a basket, the apology from a small child and then the crinkle of packets. At the checkout, you have a yoghurt and a bottle of water and tell me you don’t like to eat. This information invites discussion. I am tempted to comment on your hipbones and the strain of your cheeks but I smile instead, tell you I adore the taste of hot tea, creamy scones with jam. I watch you count out £1.39 in small change.

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This is not a city for you. You stare straight ahead as I ask you about the journey. Will it be long or short? Will I reach the tube station in time? And, what is it about north-west London that makes me feel so incensed? The vortex of suburban life, the space filled with brick housing, neat gardens, guarded expressions, girls in mittens and baby Uggs. Your face is blank, closed and checked, directionless. You’re looking into the air, the windscreen marking no boundary for your eyes. You stop the bus, start again, press a single button, drive once more.

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This morning I learn that quinuituq is Inuit for deep patience, used to describe the wait for a seal at a hole in the ice. The sleepy way the afternoon unfolds pleases me. At the pub, I talk, greet, confide, spill and wrap birthday ribbon in my hair. I order hummus and flatbread, you speak of African countries and also Belgium. You think I’m the artists I work with. I try to explain, but to distinguish myself makes less sense to us both. You ask if I have many friends. You say, The world is made anew on Friday evenings.

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