16 May 2019 at 05:52, Thursday, France
Scriv, lt, mb, rs
Bed: around 22:30
Woke: 04:55 alarm
FOF: 05:45 ish
Done so far: saw emails from mom with photos of Holland trip
I’m exhausted and mentally overwhelmed when I face the page. When you are a creative-nonfiction writer life doesn’t seem worth living, in some ways, unless it’s been written, and yet the only life worth writing about must actually be lived, which is nearly impossible when one is writing. Then there is the problem that history is best written in the moment, while it’s happening, or at least that’s how a truth-teller and documentarian will feel about it. And that problem is juxtaposed against the problem that sometimes, or perhaps nearly always, writing about events will change the future. The writer, though often as selfless a being as they come in the general scheme of things, or perhaps as selfish, depending on your point of view, is either way still always a selfish creature, as creatures are, and would like, of course, for the chips of future events to fall to the side of their own biases and preferences. Generating a happy ending to that effect.
She pauses, afraid, how much truth to reveal? Who would read this? There are feelings to consider, feelings and safety and security for all sides. And anyway, nothing has happened, at least not in this writer’s small and peachy little world. She is very, very careful to keep it that way.
She used to be quite a drama queen, at least that’s what she was repeatedly told by her mother and sister as a child, and she grew up into a very dramatic teenager, with her crop tops and spike heels and mini skirts and makeup. But later, just before entering her third decade of life, she took a decided turn for the tame when the drama of her teens culminated in her recently-ex-boyfriend-at-the-time banging, banging on the door drunk in the middle of the night, rather even in the early morning, perhaps it was around two a.m., demanding to see her, and she doesn’t remember anything after that except what her mother later told her — that he’d come crashing into the house, into her bedroom, yanked the covers off of her, in front of her parents, and stood raging, raging over her, poor wounded 24-year-old man-boy that he was,
But enough of that, the past is too far gone to remember with perfect accuracy now, that’s the problem with the past. Perhaps her old diaries might reveal some truths, some badly written truths, written in her own raging hand. But she was loathe to revisit those. Let the past remain in the past. Let’s skip ahead to the end of that tale; the end was a happy ending, well, in the long run at least; of course happy endings come usually just after a terrific climax of events that feel like a matter of life or death for the participants, and often the participants can’t see any end in sight while it is happening.
She does remember the feeling of vulnerability, that’s perhaps all she remembers, lying there in her single bed, that white particle-board bed from Ikea that had carried her or cradled her through her teens. What colour was her room at that time? She believes it was lilac, she was going through a purple phase, continuing over from the Purple Rains of her mid-teens, she remembers designing and sewing a beautiful purple and black bomber jacket, to the envy and admiration of her closest friends, and her perfume was Passion, by Liz Taylor, it sat on the window sill near its purple box. Or was she remembering a time too far back? Acts of violence can become confused with one another.
Yes it was too far back. Fast-forward four years. She is nineteen, still wearing crop tops, but now white or blue, instead of red or polka-dot, with flared sleeves and boy jeans and long hair and hippie bandanas and cowboy boots. Those were the Seabird Island concert days. Wild festivals with mosh pits and tents, with bikers on one side and her sweet same-age guy-friends on the other.
Right. So she and Theron as a couple had just ended, yes, let’s call him Theron, he deserves a beautiful name, beautiful 24-year-old man-boy that he was, and this name has just now popped into her head, and, she feels, could easily be a name of freedom and of power, both of which he certainly deserves. But he was not free at that time, not at all, he was trapped by horrific memories of his childhood and he was trapped by addictions that had possibly run through generations… and he was trapped by her.
She feels responsible, yes she does, she feels completely responsible, though perhaps she wasn’t; but it appears she’d made him crazy, crazy with love and longing, possibly thanks to her perfume, that love potion she’d perhaps-naïvely hoped would lure men to become crazy with love for her, with its purple passion, silly teenager that she was.
But she remembers feeling vulnerable, yes, very vulnerable, that is the main feeling she had, lying there in her pyjamas or nightgown — what did she wear to bed back then? She does not remember, oh yes, now she suddenly does, some vintage thrift-shop number, the kind with spaghetti straps that could almost be worn as a daytime summer dress. It was maroon in colour, she believes now, yes she was out of her purple phase and into her maroon phase, more stylishly called bordeaux; that colour was all the rage back then, early nineties now, yes, and it was some cheap and clingy thing she adored, and would “prance around in” of a morning, stupid innocent-seeming creature that she was, and get quite some compliments on it from any late-morning passerby, or anyone who’d happened to fall asleep out in the yard.
Anyway she’d become quite accustomed to feeling secure in her own bed, within the loving home that she had been lucky enough to grow up in, and she was sleeping very soundly, very soundly indeed, at some point, and she is not sure when or exactly how she woke, but she does remember the feeling of vulnerability, as she lay there cowering, yes cowering like a coward, vulnerable, vulnerable beneath this mass of pulsating pain and rage that now hovered above her, with his hands poised —
“DO YOU REMEMBER YOUR MOTHER”
said my own mother, as my mother and father stood as black cutout silhouettes in the yellow of the lit-up hallway, against the blackness of the dark room where he stood raging over her as she lay curled there, frozen as it were in the fetal position, no longer secure. Time was suspended in this moment, for all of them perhaps, or at least for her it was, it was as though all time had been merrily roaring toward this point, merrily roaring toward this point down some crazy river, down which she had been rowing, steadily, steadily and then allowing herself to get trapped within the eddies now and again, but here she was, at the crest of the raging waterfall, and all time had slowed to a great pause, as though suddenly the characters had been flung into space, there was no breath, there was no breathe, she could not breathe —
“REMEMBER YOUR MOTHER!”
shouted my own mother, and suddenly, all what had been flung into space fell back to earth again, the pregnant moment was released, all that needed birthing was born, all that needed killing was dead for that moment.
The man-boy collapsed, collapsed in tears, remembering his mother, his own dead mother, killed by his father by strangulation; the girl, cowering like a coward in the bed still alive, untouched, unharmed.
How strange, she thinks now, as she sits in her bed, against the solid wood of the old table that is the headboard, its thick oak slats protecting her from the rough stone walls of the house. How strange, that that is the story that was born from this morning’s first line. She has not even written today’s stories yet.
1444 words [some later removed; some added]
But today’s stories are perhaps insignificant; today her life is peachy clean, peachy keen. And she is careful to keep it that way.
The piece begins with a wolf call, and ends with all the instruments thrown into a corner. It is scored for ukulele, kazoo, hogan-twanger (wooden box and hacksaw blades), cardboard box, seal barks and an Indian elephant bell. It has words like this:
The boy I mean was oh-so peachy-keen,
A real gone guy from Goneville.
He was scattyboo and oogledy-too,
And he lived in Pasahogan.
The title of the piece spells Nature’s Boy backwards. By last week Serutan Yob had sold 350,000 records, and Capitol was threatening to make at least a million.
SERUTAN YOB – Red Ingle’s Unnatural Seven – 1948