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Monday, 29 September 2014

. My Baby Gone (and Left Me). Christina Noble..

                                                      Home Without my Baby
                                                                                                                                                                   "But I'm like, you know,  glad..... I get to come home? ...I didn't have to like stay... too?."  The Boss's remarks come at me from a great distance in this space I find myself,  car wheels slapping on tar macadam, grayish white light  illuminating the road. "Yeah, but, hey, it was nice,  she'll be grand, a  room of her own, the others just down the corridor,  she's you know lucky. " I run out of steam quite.   "I um liked the tall wavy tree at her window.  I was thinking she'll you know see that every time she sits at the desk" the Boss says after a silence. "Yeah.... right..... I was thinking that too"

The Boss and I have deposited the Beautiful One to the student campus for Fresher Week, with her suitcases, bed linen, towels and kitchen things. It is the Friday of a busy buzzing week of accumulating the stuff, sorting her ATM card,  completing her registration, mundane and esoteric things she thinks of that cannot be done without,  a pair of beer glasses with a smirking reindeer on the sides, new pyajmas, a large bottle of iron tonic requiring a last minute dash to the health food shop. I buzz through all the days of the week, planning, anticipating, reminding, till there we were on campus, in the small bare room. Empty. Hers.

I make the bed, have her unpack the suitcases, "then we can take them home you know,  give you space to breath". The boss stands bored and patient to one side. The beautiful one dashes off to obtain a front door key,  taking the large orange tub of kitchen stuff from my hands on her return.  "Hey, It's Ok.  I'll do that. You needn't... I'll do it. Later".   "O...right..."  The fine yellow light of the Indian summer illuminates her casual unpacking, piercing through the open window high up here on the third floor.  I am suddenly and  enormously exhausted.  "Um right, well,  I guess then...Darling girl, I think then we 'd better leave you to it."   Darling, darling girl I think we'd better go..

She clatters down the stairs behind us, takes the cash I fumble blind for, and jittery, distractedly allows herself to be hugged. She feels insubstantial to me,  forcing herself to be still, already tugged at by the room upstairs.  We go home. All week after we are like a cart missing a wheel, a building with a supporting wall removed. It seems like a glimpse of the real framework that contained us all. Requiring  a psychic reframing.  A sort of spiritual poke,  a sniggering chorus "so what did you think keeps you standing, keeps you here,  what all this means, what all this means" Something like that. We are adjusting

                                                            Adjusting.

The Boss decides during the week that this year she'll be doing Bronze Jazz,  Grade Five on the piano,  a birthday party hosted from the family home,  oh, and a summer Berry Pie on Thursday. Also "like what do you think?" a trip to Africa to help out with relief work in the summer. She's going to galvanize her friends, get the school on board,  "I mean, OMG do you think they would?"  A concerted effort I think to move into the newly  available space left by the beautiful departed. The new projects will require lifts, cash, dollops of maternal attention. Chances are she'll get around to most of it. Her will like a long haul Arctic Truck being mighty and relentless.

The boy announces casually that he's looking at his college options. That would be next year!!! "Could someone maybe win a scholarship, acquire a bursary, " I murmur , thinking of the impossible task it  will be to finance this level of education for one, two, three even,  people in Ireland. Each year the college fee that dares not speak its name, going by the euphemism of the Contribution Charge, increases. Latterly, accommodation costs have soared,  the accommodation on campus being scare and expensive.  A college education seems to require great wealth, or the actual poverty of the unemployed, where at least your children may qualify for a grant from the state.

"I told you I won't be coming up with A1's. I have a life!, I'll get the points I have to. I already said that to you all"  the boy is positively truculent, in the kitchen where he fries trout from the river for himself and his sister. "brain food" he adds.. He takes himself off most days after school in the obliging  Autumn sun to fish with his fishing buddies, and rarely returns without Provision. He pushes up the spectacles newly and reluctantly required on the end of his nose now   Astigmatism recently tested for. "Lasered! I am having that Lasered as soon as I can"  he states grimly, though less stridently since some hopeful girl at school told him it makes him look thoughtful, intelligent. " Does it?" he asks me innocently now. "Yeah," I say looking at his glowing golden skin, his fine arched alien blue eyes, "definitely"


                                                          Christina Noble.

The Boss gets her African Oddessy idea from the movie Noble. Having read a distinctly patronizing review of this in the Irish Times, I want to go see the fine central performances, the beautfuil sets allowed  for by the reviewer. I want to see the movie, mostly because it's true. Christina Noble lived. Lives still and is in all ways remarkable. "Inspiring?" I ask the boss after. "Yeah she says, "but,  like,  Not Enough. I mean how did she manage to get like  all the other orphanages up and running. It took her the whole film to get that first  one going."

 She is thoughtful on the way home. As am I.  All the dreadful things that happened in Ireland to children, lonely bereavement, rape, homelessness. That happened to girls. The magdalen, the savage wasting of being use as a sexual facilty, a brood mare, a commodity, a thing. And yet, from the heroic ashes of all that damage, Christina Noble changes destinies in Vietnam, and children, girls are somehow salvaged, nurtured,  snatched from the fire to shine, to outperform the boys, and even to go one day to college.

My husband tells me kindly that I am sexist, biased, excluding of,  boys. How he longs to edit. cut and paste.  If only I would let him. "Oh let me!"  But.  Yes, I tell him,  guilty, yes I  am, you bet, don't care, get over it,  Only Women, Carry, Women Bear, Only Women, Bleed.

Friday, 5 September 2014

Savage Dream Girls/Aquamarine Silver and Blood

                                           She Only Studied Lightly, Occasionally All Year Long.

 "And so he told me he got you know 490 points!, although I didn't actually ask,! so then he asked me and I told him and he said don't you mean 353!!! and I said no! I mean 535, and he said O....o"  The Beautiful One smirked blandly then. And why would she not? The Leaving Certificate points required for her chosen course;  in the bag, the carefully conveyed impression of doing only occasional actual study, intact!

I think of my stern statements during the year, when she assured me she was chained to the small wooden desk in her bedroom while all her friends like the lilies of the field neither read nor wrote, that this was horseshit ! That  they were at it beavers!. Despite her supercilious stare, I am guessing that was what she wanted me t say. Its a tightrope, parenting, my friends, a high wire act to carry buzzing teenagers to the far shores of self determination. Don't look down.

But then again,  it is she who does the high wire walk. You have no life without the imprimatur, inclusion of your friends. You will have no life without the CAO  College points the ancients yammer on about. . You absolutely know you will be extraordinary in the world when you find your own people, come to you own thing. You mostly shove your jarring sense of incompetence on the back burner, where it bubbles and burbles away, while you absolutely break your back in doing all the stuff  expected by all parties.as best you can.
                                                         To Sink.

The soundtrack of your life , the shaky  flaky  judgements of your peers, the constant instructions,, warning,s of your elders. You just can't see the time when you will  function in the world. Every instruction has the sub text  that  you could never do this on your own.  And anyway down here its predictable, warm,  well worn. So  hard to leap. to rip aside the apron strings, to sink or swim.  To sink.
                                            Aquamarine, Silver and Bloody. Dream Girls

And so to the Debutante's  Dance, the  Lovely Girls Parade,, take your pick.   She dances upstairs to her room trailed by the giddy girlfriend, slips into the aquamarine dress, the silver sandals, slathers on a cursory coat of slap,  pins up escaping locks from the up do bought and paid for, and only that paid for,  she won't let any stranger touch her face, and rapidly descends, to  her boyfriend's muttered "Wow" at her careless flighty greeting, he standing in the hall, shoves flowers at myself , "for you."  bemused and dazzled at her casual disposal of the corsage he gave.  She stands still ,barely, for the photographs, but oh she can't recall where she dropped her sweet corsage, and gone lightly climbing into the car, with bleeding heels, a blister burst,  laughing, serene,  unconcerned as I chase the car with lint and plaster.

I close her bedroom  window  in the silent house, pick  up two bottles of vodka mixer, discarded with the "well done!" cards, a hoodie,  her battered trainers on the floor,  breathe in the smell of cigarettes,, perfume, residue of hysteria, expectation.

I ask her how it went next day.  She said it was savage.  Just that.  savage
.
                                               Tiger, Tiger Burning Bright

In the calm after that storm, I am on the last lap of  Eimear McBride's A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing. (2014).  Serendipity. A slow burner for me. Like burning matter falling melting on your skin to simmer in to the bone. Don't warm to books that are pre labelled  "A Masterpiece!."  But, my..how it burns. I can only read  the  book when I'm feeling robust.  By now I know the story, know the way the stream of imperious consciousness sucks you in until you're just another worm on a hook with the heroine. Yep,  a Masterpiece.
                                               
                                                            Actors
                                           
The Beautiful Girl and I take time out of time to go together to the movie Boyhood.  Serendipitous again.  I don't  tell her of the three hours running time. She might not come.  Don't know where the time goes. . So?  I ask her after, cautiously, both of us blinking under the unsettling electric light in the foyer. "Yeah. Loved it. Cool, the actor growing up and going to college, Yeah. The mum, she kinda reminded me, like of you, the way she, you know, she did,  yeah, she really did. Yeah."   O..