A painful one, this one, for me.
I long for so many things. Great big things like laughing with my Mum, or seeing my brothers [what I’d give to put some Motown on and dance madly with my brother right now!]. Or seeing my friends, oh so many friends, so loving and concerned and supportive. Or my country, with all its beauty, all its beautiful things. Small – yet not so small – things like bright red Post Boxes, blackbirds pecking worms in the mornings and hearing people, all around me, speaking English. Feeling the wind on my face, that very particular October breeze, coming home to bake blackberry crumble and eating it with oozy custard, second helpings because you just can’t help yourself. Being able to ride my bike whenever I want, children in tow. The freedom of a bike and an open road. Feeling safe when I go outside. Seeing beautiful architecture, as a norm. Being surrounded by clever, inspiring people. Drinking in inspiration daily. Ah. Home. Never has a word sounded so sweet yet so painful.
I long for elsewhere. It’s the only daily constant. “I don’t want to be here, I don’t want to be here” droning around my head like an endless train song, as I swat mosquitoes, hear the incessant peeping of cars, feel my clothes cling to me from the heat, am scared out of my wits as another cockroach creeps out in the dark. I think of Greene and his tales of English men abroad, on missions for the Government or as spies. I remember reading him, as a teenager, and thinking to myself, “It sounds like Hell” (whilst being secretly attracted to being a spy on Top Secret missions). And it is. Pretty much Hell. Too much heat. Too much noise. Too much dust. Too many people. Too little of too many things: beauty, decency, humanity. It is to me, now, a godforsaken place. A place humanity forgot.
It’s crazy-making, this trapped feeling I carry around with me. I bring myself back to Earth, back from the panic in my head, by focusing on the good. My two littles. Their beauty. Their wisdom and calm. The fact that I’m with them, we’re together. My mind wanders, I long to show them London, to have them experience so much more than this small box we’re trapped in. I reprimand myself, bring my mind back to focusing on the now. I can’t live in the past or the future. I can only manage the now. I find myself longing for a better life – a life that’s not here – and my mind takes me on flights of fancy. But I can’t afford to board those flights. The consequences are just too expensive, too many lost nights of sleep and mental peace, even if ‘mental peace’ is some falsehood based on a sustained suspension of beliefs to enable me to survive here and not where we should be, surrounded by family and friends.
My mind stumbles, scanning, I laugh as I think ‘How much longer do I have to long long long? It’s been too long already’, remembering Dr. Seuss, wondering if I can make some poem about my plight. A humorous one, a limerick: it’d have to be a limerick – nonsensical like my situation and humorous, because there’s only one way through: laughing at what I can laugh at and forgetting the rest, filing it under ‘Know I need to deal with this but later, later”….knowing it’ll all come back to bite me later, this suppressing of emotions, but the mother in me taking over, willing me on to be strong, to get through this Herculean – this Sisyphean – task. For the children. My children need to see me strong, have one stable parent in the midst of this chaos.
As a child, I was always astounded when I read of those miracle moments of strength gifted to people as they rescued loved ones in need: mothers who lifted cars with their bare hands to save their babies trapped underneath, fathers who dove in to icy waters to save their children, losing their own lives in the process. I remember being stunned by the sheer power of love. I wonder, now, was this God guiding me, pre-empting my trials, instilling, in me, a sense of ‘if they can do it, so can I?’. I feel, like those Mums I read about, like I lift and carry a car around with me most days, to stop the weight of it all crushing them both. I pray, every day, multiple times a day, that the weight does not crush me beneath it one day, unforeseen conditions causing me to topple and it all to come crashing down. I tell myself I can do this, can hold it all at bay, because I have to. I am guarding two innocent angels from this load.