"Coffee" I say to myself again "Sunshine". Of such tiny promises to oneself is the resolve not to burst into tears, or kick someone in the shin, made. I can almost feel the sun on my back, though possibly that is Galliano vest man. His jeans are so tight they create their own forcefield.
So I get off the tram, finally, and hobble past 15 new holes in the road, then sprint unsuccessfully after the postman who is just leaving one of those "You were out, sucker", slips. I go in, put the coffee on, open the back door.
12:00 The coffee machine fails to pierce three successive Nespresso capsules. That's, what, like €3 to the evil empire with nothing to show for it for me. Serves me right for joining their stupid, George Clooney worshipping cult. The machine is obviously buggered, which figures, since it is about 2 months past the expiry of its guarantee.
12:06 I go and sit outside with a cup of tea instead. On the floor, I have no garden furniture. The dog skitters around me, whining, bringing me a selection of heavily foxed soft toys, balls, a squeaky chicken. "Bugger off, Oscar". I shake my head crossly, close my eyes and try to relax. The sun is shining and birds are singing, the dog's whining has slowed to a sort of breathy note of inquiry. Even so, I cannot relax. My eyes snap open, unbidden. I can see from here that the kitchen floor is very dirty, and so are the windows, even though I actually cleaned them last week. I start listing things I need to do: wash the floor, pay some bills, find a representative of a non-European diaspora (don't ask), hoover? Do I need to hoover again? God, I did it last month. The shutter. The chip in the bath. Dust the piano. Emails from last week, last month. Driving licence. Composition de menage. Bigger, scarier things I try not to think about at all. There are infinite tasks and I am incapable of keeping up with more than 5% of them, it seems. My jaw hurts from grinding my teeth. And why do all my shoes pinch at the moment? Am I getting fat feet? How is that even possible?
12:11. I hear my phone chirruping inside, and go and fetch it. I deal with a text message even though it's not remotely urgent, then look at the garden again. Most of my bulbs have not come up. They have been eaten by the evil thorned triffid that takes over every inch of the garden if not kept in check. The Christmas tree catches my eye. Bugger. I really have to deal with that bastard. I force myself to close my eyes again. I try and breathe deeply, through the knot of chaos in my chest. The sun is deliciously warm. Soon the lilacs will be out, I think. I try and imagine I am on my Mediterranean goat farm (a recurrent fantasy of recent months, even though I hate the country. That's how strong my desire to run away is, right now).
12:13 The dog is whining louder again. When I look over at him, he is standing strangely, uncomfortably, his back legs saggy. I ignore him, shut my eyes again. Goat farm. Warm winds. The smell of wild thyme. The sun on the waves. Gentle bleating. Suddenly I am aware of his presence far closer to me. He yelps in my face. Looking more closely, I can see that he has a large turd trailing from his back end that he seems unable to get rid of, hence his expression of unease. By the time I realise this, he is skittering dangerously close to the house, the poo bobbing along, still attached, behind him. "NO", I shout and rush off, shutting the door behind me, for kitchen roll. I come back out, shutting the door carefully behind me. I grab the dog by its collar, and wipe his arse. It is properly revolting.
12:14 I give up on relaxation for the day.
16:15 I find this brilliant poem, via this blog, and it cheers me up no end (and mentions uncomfortable shoes too).
Regret nothing. Not the cruel novels you read
to the end just to find out who killed the cook.
Not the insipid movies that made you cry in the dark,
in spite of your intelligence, your sophistication.
Not the lover you left quivering in a hotel parking lot,
the one you beat to the punchline, the door,
or the one who left you in your red dress and shoes, the ones
that crimped your toes, don't regret those.
Not the nights you called god names and cursed
your mother, sunk like a dog in the livingroom couch,
chewing your nails and crushed by loneliness.
You were meant to inhale those smoky nights
over a bottle of flat beer, to sweep stuck onion rings
across the dirty restaurant floor, to wear the frayed
coat with its loose buttons, its pockets full of struck matches.
You've walked those streets a thousand times and still
you end up here. Regret none of it, not one
of the wasted days you wanted to know nothing,
when the lights from the carnival rides
were the only stars you believed in, loving them
for their uselessness, not wanting to be saved.
You've traveled this far on the back of every mistake,
ridden in dark-eyed and morose but calm as a house
after the TV set has been pitched out the upstairs
window. Harmless as a broken ax. Emptied
of expectation. Relax. Don't bother remembering
any of it. Let's stop here, under the lit sign
on the corner, and watch all the people walk by.
(Antilamentation, by Dorianne Laux)