Thursday, 15 April 2010

On the Personal.

Late last week when I was feeling I was on a roll with the whole ‘spontaneous overflow of words’ stuff I got carried away and I wrote something personal. I didn’t stop there. I posted it on my blog. All this is hugely disconcerting as anyone who knows me in real life knows that for all my pragmatic ways there are huge lapses into neurosis where I worry about tiny little things I’ve said, picking out the intricacies of thoughts that realistically those around me are totally unaware of. That’s because these thoughts are nonsense. But goddamn it they are my thoughts and even if nobody else is interested, I might as well be invested in them.

I’m reminded of a lovely thing Samantha says in Sex and the City: The Movie, to Smith when she’s breaking up with him. It goes along the lines of ‘I’ve been in this relationship for 5 years, but I’ve been in a relationship with myself for 49 years. This is the one I need to work on.’ Now I’m nowhere near her age, nor will I ever notch up the life experience she’s had, mainly because she’s the work of fiction, but all this got me to thinking about this blogging lark, why I might be doing it and whether it’s a good idea to get personal. Perhaps this is down to my sensitivity and the eternally vexing question ‘Am I doing the right thing?’ It’s either that or its massive self-indulgence. But whichever way it is I feel this way about the writing business, for one must wonder in one’s room of their own, what the point of all this is.

Given everything I’ve just written its hardly surprising that come Sunday morning I rushed to my laptop and fired up the dongle (this never fails to make me chuckle) and in haste removed the offending personal blog entry. I could sit relieved at the kitchen table, sweat wiped from my brow safe in the knowledge that nobody would have to read my silly wee lapse into sentimentality easily led by blogger’s compulsive ‘post now’ agenda. No such luck, for over a bowl of muesli – surely all cold hard reality begins and ends with a bowl of what ultimately consists of sawdust and grit – I realised what a terrible fool I’d been. How cowardly I was to take down words of a personal nature, and more shockingly, how self-indulgent of me to think that my insignificant blog of some personal words might yield more than a passing glance.

Perhaps all this will be easier to understand if I just come right out and say it. The personal words were inspired by heartbreak. A heartbreak of some years ago that for some reason I cannot entirely shake off. For it hangs around like an inexplicable pain in the body – like a sore hip that only occurs on rainy days. It’s a heartbreak that haunts me. I’m hardly the first person in the world to experience this evidence of nature’s folly, were we’re built with the capacity to divine a special feeling for a certain person, all without a satellite navigation that will point you in the direction of someone who is also available and will love you back.

Far better people have written of this exquisite pain, some have even made whole careers of it. All the greatest songs I’ve ever listened to, the ones that have got me through grief, sorrow, life in general, are only in existence because of it. No shift in the planet’s axis will occur if I post my own small window of experience. Nobody has to even read it. But I wrote it and that’s significant. So perhaps in honour of the piece of writing’s insignificance and in its pure significance to me I’m re-posting it here. For as Cassandra writes on the last page of her journal in I Capture the Castle ‘Only the margin left to write on now. I love you. I love you. I love you.’

The sentimental, silly things ...

Some years ago the flat I’d grown up in was being sold and I had to return home from university to pack up the rest of the stuff I hadn’t deemed important enough to take when I’d left. Knelt on my old bedroom floor, a plastic bag at one side, a bin liner the other, I sifted through the remnants of the past.

It wasn’t long before embarrassing CD’s, teen magazines and mouldy sparkly make-up and dried up nail varnishes made their way into the bin bag. It’s not necessarily that I was slapdash, but the more stuff I picked up from my past, the more quickly it became meaningless in my hands. Trinkets once held so dear, birthday cards once cherished ceased to have a power or sentiment beyond the time they were collected or received. And I was swept up in the urge to just chuck it all away and purge myself of history.

I wasn’t entirely ruthless - one knows the worth of a silver pocket watch beyond its simple weight in your hand. So I set aside my papa’s father’s timepiece in the keep-sake section. Cold and solid, and not to mention its discovery coming mere months after his death it’s a thing worth keeping not merely for sentiment but for the sake of honour.

Sometimes it’s easier when you are dealing with what’s the ‘right thing to do’ to forget the tiny little things you ‘should’ do, even if they are done just for posterity’s sake. So that day I chucked the handful of Valentine’s cards I got in my ‘youth’ and the one and only love letter, I think, I’ve ever received. I say ‘think’ because I’m not sure it was a love letter at all, although its filled with friendship and ‘perhaps more’, signed off with a ‘love always’ that still stings when I think about it, even now, eight years on.

Four years have passed since I knelt on that carpet for the last time and I’m feeling the wave of sentimentality of a girl who wishes she could read those words again. This is a wave of sentimentality of a girl who would like to indulgently run a finger over the indentation of the ball point on creamy paper. And this isn’t because objects can ever bring back the past, but rather just for the simple, blissful, momentary escape into private history.

Perhaps this is why they want to fob off the young as foolish and in turn why we dismiss the old as silly fools.

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