Archive for October, 2013

A Timeline

October 4, 2013

An editor once described my works as ‘elliptical and impressionistic’. She meant I meandered and could not pin the facts to the page.
I have left kind readers baffled as to my whereabouts. I have even led some to believe that I had been abandoned by Ant. No. Not yet. As I said: it could be worse.
So let me try to articulate withoput the waffle and the smoke and mirrors. Why do I do that? Because sometimes it’s hard to articulate with precision especially when the mess we find ourselves in is essentially wrought of our own making … one bad decision and the whole thing implodes.
In December 2011 I left the Outpost ahead of Ant to pursue a new dream. (That was the single bad decision with precipitated ensuing turmoil). One we’d talked about for years. He joined me three months later. And three months after that the dream went sour and we left it behind and moved to Zambia.
That didn’t work for lots of reasons and so we found a job Back Home, in Kenya, where we were both born, where my father was born. Where we have always felt as if we belonged. We drove there from Zambia, a road trip full of anticipation and excitement accompanied by two dogs and a cat. We’d only just got over the border when the investors told us that the money had dried up. We arrived anyway. Shellshocked. And limped along until it really was apparent there was no money for anything, least of all luxuries like salaries.
So we spent some fraught weeks (as our home-for-the-summer-holidays children tried not worry) looking for new jobs from our borrowed home near the beach (It Could Be Worse; we could have had nowhere to go. Kind M). And Ant was invited to London to interview for a new job. I was a little anxious about that. It tasted a little of Outpost remoteness but time has taught me that It Could be Worse and I’d go back to the Outpost in a heartbeat now, better a home and security than whirling dervish chaos. But to Ant it was a dream, doing what he does best and in a place he knows well. His exuberance and optimism carried me along, ‘It’s going to be good for us’, he said.
Then less than a week before he was to leave, and I to join him later, the employers-to-be admitted that there mightn’t be a job at all. Just a short term consultancy. Whilst we see if this works. When we’ve done the Business Plan. Shiny New Projects and Eager Investors; you’d think we’d learned our lesson by now.
So Ant has departed for the short term consultancy because we have bills to pay. And I am here. In the borrowed house (thank you M) with the animals, scouring the internet for jobs, tweaking CVs, trying hard to concentrate on something, anything, else and failing miserably, wondering why we recklessly abandoned what was safe, worrying about when we’ll have a home and stablity again. Trying, as my dear friend J does too, for different reasons (and here I steal her words) ’to leave it all behind in the dust… I have to keep reminding myself of this and not succumb to my inner nay sayer…to this practical mind which catastrophises in the dark hours of the early mornings when I can’t sleep. I sometimes get so afraid of what lies ahead’. I try not to check emails at 3am in the hope some glorious new and secure venture beckons. I try to remember to eat (Good Lord: 4pm. Did I forgetlunch?). I try to remember to laugh (and I did yesterday, when an over enthusiastic O’Malley-the-alley-cat plunged into the pool whilst stalking me as I swam).
And I remind myself, it could be worse.

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It Could Be Worse

October 3, 2013

I keep telling myself. It could be worse. It could be worse. It could be.

I didn’t think it could be when it ended in tears here.

I didn’t’ think it could be when we got here.

But it did. It got worse.

So now. Now. As I write. With a cold beer at my side. A dog at my feet. A kitten called O Malley the Alley Cat purring hotly on my lap because he presumptuously invited himself onto my lap as I ate a pizza in Malindi one night as the tuktuks sputtered and rattled by and he came home with us and the leftovers. His marmalade smudged coat is smooth now not standing on end as it was then, a roll of fat at his neck, his tummy no longer worm-blown.

Now. I say, even though it’s not great, because there is no certainty, because apart from this furry menagerie I am alone, it could be worse. Because if I don’t fate might laugh loud again and turn her knife so that my life is split apart a little further.

It could be worse.

My children are not with me. But they are well. My student son asks if I need a loan. We talked about this Mum, he says sternly. And I laugh. My eldest daughter is doling out good advice and condoms during freshers week as welfare officer. Hat is bravely soldiering through the first term of Lower Sixth, still not feeling as if she belongs entirely. She tells me the story of a girl whose prose in creative writing class describes her mother as a lioness. Her father is ill; her mum must hold the fort. The girl’s words describes how she wants to be like her mother; brave. A lioness, she writes. Later Hat tells her her writing is beautiful and moving. That she thinks she is a lioness already and I cry a little at my daughter’s grace. I tell her she is lionesslike too. For her titian curls, her amber eyes, her courage.
For we have dragged her and her siblings in our chaotic wake these past two years. And still the chaos swirls so that I do not know where home is. Where home will be. Where will I lay my hat which is scuffed and red and old with a drooping suede brim and beads. A dust-devil, a whirly gig we called them when we were little, that twists relentlessly, throwing up everything in its path and dustily obliterating views and horizons. Blurring clarity.
My Hat says ‘aw mum’ when I tell her she is a lioness, and gives me a Skype smiley face.
And my Ant is a thousand miles away where I cannot be because we have bills to pay and because you have to put your head down and you have to keep going.
It could be worse. I know that now.