The Steep Learning Curve - Isn’t that such an overused term? The very first time it was used it must have been a brilliant analogy but now along with, silver bullet, going forward and at the end of the day, we are all thoroughly sick of it. Let’s just go for “some things are hard” next time. And some things are hard, there is just no escaping it. But the learning curve analogy does explain it well actually, how learning new things gets easier the more you do it. And being a widow is no different it seems.
I can’t believe that three months have passed, Brian is not coming back despite still getting mail and pesky calls from telecommunications companies. Every day there is something new to cope with, something unexpected and random to knock us sideways. For Reuben almost every day there is a customer who arrives and asks where Brian is, the lists in his perfect handwriting and finding things in his random storage systems. But it is getting a little bit better.
I have a job. After a lifetime of working, nine months not working seemed to be all I knew but not so. And how lucky I am, lovely people who are kind and supportive, interesting work and a routine to get used to. Plus any number of outfits from Zara to wear, in fact it is a struggle to figure out which one to choose. It would all be fantastic if I could think properly. I seem to be rather lacking in concentration and things that used to be routine are taking ages to relearn. But I will, I know, so I am on that steep learning curve and riding up.
The wave of life, there’s a cheesy analogy for you. But it does have some resonance. We are all swimming and sinking and paddling and sometimes riding on top of it. But the ride is short and fast.
No - I think that is just too cheesy so I will stop, it’s worse than learning curve. I guess what I am trying to articulate somehow is my confusion and bewilderment at how unfair some parts of life can be and how random and unexpected some of the worst challenges can be. We are all vulnerable and nothing is certain, nothing stays the same and struggling when the wave hits can feel endless (oops back to that wave again- sorry).
And so the next challenge is Christmas. How do we do that? I have always loved Christmas, and always totally over-celebrate in every way. Too much food, too much tinsel and too much money spent on silly things. Think of all those stupid presents over the years, silly hats, garish china things and smelly after-shave. Remember those insane swing-ball things that were so annoying on Xmas afternoon when the kids started fighting over it? We still find the polystyrene disks round the house from a plastic gun that shot them out all over the house one Christmas about ten years ago.
It was fun though. In the last few years we started doing this thing where you don’t cook anything beforehand because you are always at work until Xmas Eve and working at Police there was always some drama to deal with at the last minute. So I never seemed to get a chance to prepare anyway. We just started cooking each course, then eating it and then starting to cook the next one. In this fashion, Xmas dinner takes all day and by the time you get to the end everyone is thoroughly tiddly and no one cares. It will be different this year; we think we might just not have it.
But we won’t wallow (promise), we will just take a break from it all and be together. But we might have a drink to Brian, and eat some cherries – I just can’t miss those. Oh and I might watch Love Actually again – and cry again - but don’t we all? L
I am I imagining it or are all the old people starting to look the same? Androgynous outfits, black pants, merinos, polar fleece jackets and sensible shoes, often running shoes when they look like they couldn’t run to the lamppost. And those shorn, severe grey haircuts, for both men and women.
Younger people luckily have hair to differentiate one from the other, young women with long hair but often tied up tight in a knot and the men all shaven bald. At least now we know that bald men are not necessarily old men, guess that’s a change. And there is that colourless thing, everyone seems grey in the face, grey in the hair, grey in the clothes and probably grey in the head for all I know. What happened to that poem about wearing purple hats when you get old and behaving outrageously? Has everyone forgotten or did it only apply to Margaret Mahy anyway?
Do you detect a return of my old cynicism? I think it might be returning with a vengeance.
Perhaps it’s the huge slice of “grief gateaux” that I have been served up. It sure is large and pretty indigestible with its many spongy layers and sticky inside bits. This is a very strange time for me and where to put all this a puzzle I can’t seem to solve.
But we are marching on towards Xmas and in spite of everything, the idea of summer and holidays brings to everyone, even to me, a sense of lightening and a sense of promise. Perhaps when the weather gets warmer, all the old people will grow their hair and shed the sensible shoes and run barefoot in bright tee shirts and flowery skirts. Well, I might – so there.
PS The picture has got nothing to do with it but I thought it was funny.
Well, we are back. Melbourne is a fantastic city, so trendy and interesting but for Wellingtonians especially, there is something familiar and safe about it. I think when we go there, we feel as though we know it. Of course, Laura and I actually do know it since we have both lived there in other iterations of our lives. It was so hot - 34 degrees sometimes and then doing that thing, so familiar to Wellingtonians, when all of a sudden it changes and nec minit, it’s 20 and you are in all the wrong clothes. However we can handle that - we are used to it – well the cold bit anyway.
Melbourne is eating, shopping and gawping and we did them all. We managed to give Zara a jolly good seeing to, and in fact we are now the “Zarinas”. I think we managed to cover everything, stripy skirts, spotty jackets, flowery pants and a whole lot in between. Total fun.
There was a bit of drama trying to get those suitcases shut but made it home to a blustery, grey day and reality arrived like a thunderbolt. Now what am I meant to do?
After a couple of days of intolerable grief and loneliness, I realised that now this is my life. Somehow, Brian has receded for everyone else and life must go on but his has not. And our life has not either. And yet, in the big scheme of things, I am lucky. My wonderful children who have both stoically returned to work - Laura, the Zarina, gracing the office with a new set of amazing clothes each day and Reuben with renewed energy with the thought of the “dark beauty” in Sydney to visit keeping him motivated. And all of you, my lovely friends who have not forgotten me, and my family who are always there when I need them.
So, what the hell will happen next? How do I make any of it make sense? I know all those clichés about time and keeping busy and all that. But it all feels very pointless.
Anyway, enough, don’t want to depress you all. Foxta del Sol provides a haven of diversion and important jobs like pulling out all the weeds and sweeping up the sand that has blown under all the doors. After two intolerable days in Wellington, I headed up to Foxton to get lost and arrived to find the garden turned to a jungle, broccoli the size of small cats, lettuce reaching for the sky and broad beans turned into leathery green sausages. And when I opened the door, the smell hit me. It seems that the fridge had stopped doing what fridges do and the contents of the freezer were transformed into a fetid mass seeping ghoulishly all over the kitchen floor.
So I masterfully set about trying to identify what the problem was, fridge or plug or fuse or total electricity failure? I moved the fridge to another plug and it seemed to sort of go in a limp kind of way,so then I started going round the house turning things on to see what was working – bad move!!
Eventually after confusing episodes of everything I turned on going for a second and then stopping, the fuses all looking the same and the lights mysteriously still going, I rang an electrician. He comes round, pokes something into the plug and then becomes extremely energised and not from the plug. He identifies something called a neutraliser or normaliser or something starting with “n” on a pole outside which is now broken. This apparently renders the whole house live and sends double current through every appliance, so my clever turning everything on will now have blown every appliance plus the hot water heater. Holy shit!!
Anyway, the end of the story is that the power company came round, the man fixed it and made the same dire predictions. So I tried all the appliances and guess what??? They all went, except our treasured old gramophone. I think I got off lightly and another lesson in how to be a widow (well actually it’s not just for widows), never trust the dire predictions of tradesman who love to scare women with dire predictions. You know all that stuff the mechanic says about the noise in your car – “Gotta be the big end or bad end or something”. And builder saying – “That's had it, have to be totally replaced you know”.
So now, I start my life again somehow and try to be grateful for the good things and by the way, does anyone know how you get rid of disgusting smells from the freezer?