Monday, August 4, 2014

Bedside Weather (or Whether To Get Up Or Not)

I have this terrible habit. When I wake up, stretching, looking at the light in the attic windows, I sleepily gauge what kind of day it’s going to be. You can tell, you know. If the sun beams clear-cut, golden rectangles up onto the white, slanted ceilings, it heralds a clear blue day. The shapes will be sharp and defined and cut through with minuscule, mosquito net squared shadows. Outside the bright spring air shapes a translucent day when you should be out there flying kites, marveling at the sheer brightness of the wild yellow flowers, which are like small fallen stars, littering the landscape for as far as you can see. Small Fallen Stars. That’s what they should be called. …daisy stella africanum should be their Latin name. It’s going to be one of those days when the dream is real, when you unfurl your life pennant of victory, swirling silver in a frisky wind and I am your queen. If you don’t pitch up to your life on a day like this, shame on you.

If the gold rectangles are hazy, if the lines fade from strong to smudgy, the light glows gold to pale dust yellow, I’ll bet you the clouds are low and racing, skidding across the northern sun. If you listen, the wind is already whistling and shaking the rafters. It’s going to be a fast weather changing day, which flirts with mood and dress code. You’ll be shunted from dreaming to philosophy to restlessness to half done jobs and misunderstandings to desolation. The horse is crazy silly. Crows scare him even more than on other days, as they slice through the air, pterodactyls on the wing, in formations of 7 or more. He puffs himself up like a Citroen, standing still as a statue ready to explode. It’s the kind of day when you think of drinking whisky at four in the afternoon and actually convince yourself that it’s not a problem.

If there are no golden rectangles on your ceiling, like this morning, and the light is dove grey silver, there’ll sure as hell be mist outside, raindrops light as snowflakes swirling about the whistling thorns. If I were in Europe and it was winter, there’d be snow out there. I hear a distant dog barking into the silence of the morning. The clouds will be thickly spread like she spreads Nutella on her toast, although not anymore because she knows it hurts orangutans.(do your homework, people.) Like she won’t eat calamari anymore because she knows how intelligent octopi are. I told her how a mother will guard her eggs for as long as she can, sometimes until she dies, because the longer she sits there, the bigger and stronger they will be. These days remind me of giant oil paintings of pre-revolution Russian landscapes, dark skyscapes and peasants with scythes in fields of hay. You curl shell like back into your smug bed, and, if it’s holidays, hope that someone else will open the front door to let the dogs out and to leave the keys for the stable store for Mohammed. You hope someone else will put the kettle on and bring you coffee in bed…with lashings of coffee creamer, the exact amount of Africafe with one and half sugars, please. Like hell.

No, you decide. No. I’m not getting up. Fuck it. The world can wait and if the dogs have weed inside the house again, who cares? Which makes you realize you’ve been popping for a wee since three that morning. You stretch again and reach out for the iPad. This is the terrible habit, you see.  You check your emails, check your instagram and you check Facebook, leaving the news til last because it’s so terrible these days. You watch an amusing Zimbabwe advert. You watch a cat dog video, only because you rate and love the person who’s posted it. (note to self: never be fooled. Press enter at your own risk. Is the bandwidth worth it?) You only read the headlines from the Gaza Israeli onslaught…but your eyes slip down and you read about how a rocket has hit another school and ten more children are killed but how the Israelis say they will not stop the war on ‘Islamic fundamentalism’ on ‘terror’. There is an image of a blown up wheel chair, with a brother crouched over his dead sister who couldn’t get away fast enough, who got left behind. His trousers are torn and his feet are bare. He stares down at the crumpled remains of his sister, tears making tracks through the dirt on his face, blood on his hands, his mouth in a silent scream. And you scroll down quickly. And there she is, Rin Norris, head bowed, talking at a memorial for her three children, Mo, Evie and Otis and her father Nick Norris, who were blown out of the sky in Malaysian flight MH17 by Ukrainian rebels. You watch her speak. You read her words, "They taught me to sing every day and to laugh at myself. They taught me not to dance in front of their friends and to try and not be funny in maths groups. When their innocent bodies were shot out of the sky, I stretched my arms as high as I could and screamed for them. Now I see them only in my head. I can't touch them, I can't feel their warmth. My arms will always be reaching for them."  

All of a sudden, you can’t get out of bed anymore. You remember the words, “Just pitch up to your life.” And you do. But you can’t stop crying. Even when you finally get to the loo, when you open the door to let the dogs out, when you kill the scorpion on the kitchen floor as you make your way to the stove to put the kettle on, as you stare out the window at the new grey day ahead. Your life. You can’t stop crying. You hug and kiss your children stronger than ever before, as they stumble warm as scones from their beds, scented with love and dreams. You hug them long and strong. Long and strong, and goddamn pitch up to your life.

I love the golden rectangles beamed onto my ceiling, true.

Yes.  I love those kind of days.


Mark said...

Great to catch up on your postings while babysitting the Africa Summit in DC. While dignitaries may not be as poetic their words are as just.
- Missing but not forgotten

Janelle said...

Thank you Mark! not sure why, but it gives me a certain buzz to know someone reads this while at an African Summit in DC! Thanks for swingin' by now. x j

reluctantmemsahib said...

beautiful writing. beautiful x

Janelle said...

ah thanks anthea! x j

Family Affairs said...

So true - so tragic, she was the one I too cried for - the loss of her three children and her father in one go. Beyond pain. And I know those days, and I know how hard it can be sometimes, but as you say, hug your children tight and one foot in front of the other - life is beautiful and so are you…Lx
(except when you make me do a bloody moderation comment number thingy that I can't bloody read because I'm too old)….

Janelle said...

Bella Lulu! thanks for swingin' by and for your lovely comment...and SORRY about the bladdy number thingy....!? keep your specs about ya darl'! love x j

Kate McAlpine said...

So thrilled to see you back writing --- love it and you!

Janelle said...

ah THANK YOU Kate, my dear loyal reader and friend. Love you too! X janelle