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Platypus and Echidna


Gisele

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So far so good for 2021. But kinda not really. It is good in the sense that it has not been bad but it also is a descent from the heady heights of what, in my own mind, I think of as the Year of the Platypus and that makes me a little sad.

Or a lot sad.

I don’t want to go back. I want the world to change and at a million miles an hour. It was ****ed, it was broken and I would smite all the shrill voices that yearn for the way it used to be. If only I had some free time and a wand.

Those shrill voices can be heard here, perhaps not as widely or as loudly as in other parts of the world but exist nonetheless. As long as the majority keeps inviting those to shut the **** up, I remain pleased. All of this makes me a massive hypocrite but what’s my hurry. I’ll get to that later. In the meantime, I will just try to ignore the face-stinging sleet of normal. Just in time for winter. So much normal you could lay down and drown in it.

School went back and that super-annoying. I think Alex and I are of one mind; the obscene amounts of money we paid for their education last year while doing the lion’s share of it ourselves was worth every penny. And it was. As much as I tell myself the resumption is for the best because it is for their best, I miss it. I miss it so much.

Work is back though not from anywhere but right here if I can at all help it. There is only so much I can do from home. As long as that is hovering around half of what I do then that will do me.

Traffic is back. Yay … said no-one.

Foot traffic is also back, like rats after a flood. Hang on, I am one of those rats. Moving on…

I went home in January, for the first time in six or seven months. I had not planned to but woke up early one day with an urge, so left on a little reconnaissance just by myself. I don’t know what I expected to find and that’s possibly because I didn’t get beyond feeling variously anxious and excited on the long trip up the freeway. Perhaps I just took it to be a logical turning point, to return to our marital home, the only home the kids previously knew and the home I didn’t just help rebuild but was somehow an image of my own rebuilding. It was as we left it. If anything, the garden may have looked a little better but I could not get out of there quick enough. I found myself feeling a bit dizzy walking in and then started struggling to even breathe.

And just as a sort of deranged farewell I got the fright of my life when leaving. I closed the front door and turned to walk towards my car and nearly leapt through my own skin and head first through the porch roof. You don’t have to be dead for your soul to leave your body. This time my soul came back and reasoned that the man wearing a suit walking down the driveway towards me wasn’t overtly threatening, just a real estate salesman. The mother****er could not possibly have failed to notice that he frightened the crap out of me. Still, he did not so much as break stride. He got right up close, flashed his downloadable smile and his card and wondered, ever so cheerfully, if I was wanting to sell my home.

I’m not proud of it but I pushed his card aback at him and told him to **** off and never come back. We get their crap in the mailbox all the time but this was next level. I’m even less proud to admit that I snatched his card back and studied the details as if to warn him to take never coming back seriously and came searingly close to adding “if you do, there’s plenty of room in my freezer.” I hate violence on every level but horrible thoughts do still pop up. Clearly, much is still wrong with me.

So there we are. All the rats are coming back

One thing that is gone are face masks. Unfortunately for her, this has closed one of Lucy’s favourite loopholes. Kids never had to wear them and that was always a relief. She more or less came of my womb knowing exactly what she wanted to wear and what she never would … until tomorrow … when her mind might change and ….how could I possibly not know that ... so I had thought that getting her to wear one of these things might be a bit trickier than it might seem on paper. Her other so far unindulged fascination is lipstick. I say unindulged but that might not be strictly true – I found out the hard way when she was quite small how much of a house she could coat when left ever so briefly to her own devices. Estee Lauder, if I recall. At least she is a not vandal without dignity. Both of these things never cease to amuse my husband because, to his tiny, unhelpful man-brain, these are proof that some apples never fall from the tree at all.

Being the razor-sharp problem solver that I am, I seized upon the rare the opportunity to fix both of these problems at one supreme stroke. We had just got into town and she asked if she too could wear a mask. So I gave her one, which she tried on. Maybe as much as 10 second later, she carefully pinched one of the straps between two fingers, peeled it off and handed it to me like it was yesterday’s underwear and went “err, no.” Genius me asked, “Do you want me to kiss some lipstick on it?” She of course did and for the next half an hour, her and her sister walked around the shops blowing second-hand kisses at each other and I did my best to pretend to be their aunt. Seems strange now to miss the rituals that I didn’t exactly love at the time.

She is also trying to take possession of my newly beloved communist car, which was a gift from Santa. This car is the cruelly maligned Soviet-era Lada and was made, somewhat delightfully, in 1984 so has travelled a long way in time and space to finally enjoy a final, spiritual union with, well … me!

I can’t remember how long I have being reminding my husband that I needed to have one of these. I couldn’t even tell anyone why exactly. I just wanted one. I dropped enough hints. I’m sure more than once we might have been curled up on the couch, watching a spy movie or something, so would have to kick him and say “Awww, look, there’s my car!” Being a man, with typically intractable views on what makes for acceptable transportation and what does not, he never I don’t think actually believed me.

Once, when he was able to summon enough curiosity to explore this, he was sure I was making it up.

“If you want something Russian, wouldn’t you want a Faberge egg or a sable coat or something,” he more or less asked. I more or less would have said the sable coat wouldn’t have been even remotely funny and would have said fewer things are poxier than a Faberge egg. I might have finally said that if I can’t quite find the courage to visit there, I will have a Lada, thank you very much.

So maybe in June or July he asked, typically out of nowhere and with a level of suspicion not ideal in a husband, if I actually wanted a Lada. I of course said, with a sad face, that I miss being heard. Then it never got mentioned again. Maybe that was enough because Santa lobbed one in my driveway on Christmas morning, with the most deliciously daggy but gleaming ivory paint job and nice seats and one of those old fashioned steering wheels that seem really thin and a size too big. I was very, very excited.

I don’t know what made me think it was just an exquisite ornament but I wondered out loud if it had an engine and could, you know, drive around. He looked over me for signs of concussion and clamy exhaled, “Engine? It’d just be a fish tank without one.” Popping it open and nodding to its equally gleamy insides, there was indeed a brand-spanky new engi… power unit. I learned later, from men milling around a four-wheeled altar, in solemn silence like proper pilgrims that this is the correct terminology.

“This is so cool” Lucy said

“Fish tank? I don’t get it”, I whimpered.

Ruby just seemed a little bewildered. “Mum, this is your dream car?”

“Dreams come in all shapes and shades,” I reminded her

I did whimper some more when I saw that it was a manual transmission. He was surprised at my surprise. I can’t think why. I go a month without doing something and manage to thoroughly unlearn it and it has been a very long time since I drove a manual car. The last one I had, which was mine but also not mine, disappeared up the back of a tram.

That might have had less to do with the transmission and more to do with driving under quite some influence but the dread was similar. It doesn’t matter how good I get, nice moments always have to be hijacked by Yesteryear. It likes to pull my hair, wipe the smile from my face and remind me that it is still here. Still, that is better than some of the things that have been waking me up in the middle of the night lately. **** me, I might need to start going to bed with an ice vest and a sock in my mouth.

Lucy, ever the alchemy of both the heartfelt and the pitilessly practical, offered up brightly, “It’s ok mum, I can show you. Easy.” Her sister, clearly more aware than me at the truth of behind Lucy’s claim, clutched her side in mock agony and spluttered, “Ooooh, ouch.” Their dad had the wisdom in this moment to avoid eye contact.

It might have been three or four days later when I happened to notice out the window that my newly beloved communist car was either driving itself up the hill and off into the distance or of someone had just nicked it

“Honey, I think my car is being stolen.” He stood up, not hurriedly though, and eventually agreed.

“What should we do?” I wondered, trying more than anything I suppose to suppress the nascent feeling that someone could be sneaking around all the way out here, miles from anything. Maybe not quite Wolf Creek but I’m not sure seeing your Christmas presents getting pinched can ever be peak-rational. 

“I dunno. Maybe run out there and flail my arms around a bit? Ring off a few shots? What do you think? ” he said, almost like one hand asking the other.

“Well ****, maybe call the police” I said more plaintively that I might have liked.

“Police?” he laughed. “You’ve changed!”

I suppose I have. “Stop it! I’m being serious”

He relented a little but cautioned, “Nah, we better not. Those fugitives are your daughters.”

“So you knew?”

“I only know the gate needed closing. The rest is initiative and I like it!”

As amused and breathless and irritated as I was in the same instant, panic hadn’t quite subsided.

“What the **** are you going to do when she gets to the top of the driveway and just keeps going?!”

“I dunno, do we need milk?” he asked, still not quite reading the room.

The truth is that if he wasn’t like that, I would have cracked long ago. I suppose it’s as much a relief to me that he hasn’t changed. I’ll admit that at the outset of all this I feared he might. And if it got the better of him that might just get the better of me. It worries me enough that what he always gives me is so much greater than what he gets so how could that, if it were to happen, become the pain I turn inward and the sword I eventually swallow.

It’s amusing though watching him adapt to not being able to travel (he does have a thing for going places no-one else has on an ordinary bucket list) and stepping back from his business. How does the man that sees everything cope when those he trusts to see something manage to not see anything. Probably not that well. If that only lasts the length of one of his exasperated phone calls, which it does, then I can at least enjoy the travails of a capitalist pig (said with easy affection, I am keen to point out) shrinking into a neo-socialist piglet. Suits him better, I think.

It’s most amusing to see him seem so much more like his parents than ever before, really. This is no mean feat because you could not have met two people at once so indivisible but so completely different. His mum was privileged but spat out her silver spoon. She kept every bit of her dignity though and was so insanely elegant it took me months to not be intimated by it. She also never wasted a word so she herself provided the antidote. It just took me to recognise that.

His dad grew up in Northern Ireland when it was ripping itself apart and, from what I have heard, came from less than nothing. He saw, perhaps even did, things that no teenager should ever have to, So he bought himself out here and if he had so much as a rusty spoon, spent his too brief life gold-plating it. Together they made many, many children and gave them all the gift of being able to walk anywhere, He filled a room and that was a different sort of intimating. He was warm, generous, incredibly welcoming, unless you were a Protestant. At least he did not pass this on hatred. Alex only wants to see the English bleed on a cricket pitch.

He does have his mum’s ability to see deep into me, with no apparent effort and his dad’s ability, when I might need to return the favour, to just disappear. It just amazes me, sometimes even mid-sentence, and I’m just left there thinking where the **** did he go. I have no idea how he does it. At least Harry Potter had a wand to cue his imminent vanishing.

Even the kids are left bewildered. “Where’s Dad?”

“Who?”

“Not helpful,” so off they go, in search. Which they only do because he has been wonderful to them. This has opened their eyes to the world that lay at their feet, ergo wonderful to me to feel this.

That’s my problem. The world can’t change fast enough but I can’t get back there fast enough and be in the world within the world that doesn’t change at all.

Change without me, more or less. I’ll catch up later when that the hard work is done.

The year of the Echidna?

I am wary.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My tiny man brain learned something new.  Echidna, alright. 

Learn me one more thing.  Since Winter is Coming (well, not that winter...) does the Lada have a heater?  Does it have "air conditioning"? I mean beyond the "any car that can roll down the windows has air conditioning"   Interesting choice.  Certainly a style choice.  And I love that it has, of course, a MANUAL transmission.  When one does not appreciate such things, this is a wonderful symbol of ambivalence.

Seriously, hope you are staying well.  Who needs to get back to normal?  The abnormal we love is always there for us.

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M,

Ambivalence, to me, is more than just an interesting word. II think it is a keel on a tearaway skiff, otherwise too light for the winds of change. God knows I had to do the opposite of impetuous and I can see that long periods of ambivalence sign-post every change i ever made since I started to change at all. Change is hard and, in an emotional sense, it is violent and occasionally harmful. Ambivalence takes the sting out of it I think. 

I'm not sure, maybe I'm better at seeing the whole of something with two-thirds of something. If that makes no sense, I can only assure you that irt makes sense to me. 

lest you think me reductive, I can also assure you none of that makes my Lada a metaphor. It would be lovely to say that I got two-thirds of a car to help ,me better appreciate it but I think the turth is it just simply would not have occurred to him that anyone would give up proper piloting for something as silly as comfort. Men, right! 

Getting used to it again though and I do love it. It's funny, my normal car is really quite nice but no-one i don't think has ever approached me in a carpark to openly admire it. I think a couple of people might have been inclined to scratch it but that's a mile away from the genuine enthusiasm for my communist car. I was at the post office the other day and a tradie, standing under an awning waiting for the rain to stop (and, if his handbag was a reliable clue, waiting for his girlfriend) stopped me to say he had been admiring it. So I stopped to say i admired the way he was looking after her handbag. Most men I ever dated would rather have been standing there holding a hand grenade 😉

Why do you all (y'all, pardon me) drive on the wrong side of road? The human brain is engineered to veer left to avoid a collision. But don't let that worry you 😉

XO

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"I'm not sure, maybe I'm better at seeing the whole of something with two-thirds of something."   Maybe one can only see the whole of things with two-thirds of something.  Or, maybe seeing the whole of something causes the realization of two-thirds or something.  Maybe the whole we see is only one-quarter and we are more blind than we thought.

Ambivalence bothered me while I was trying to understand it.  Now, I revel in the paradoxes of life.  Not that understanding (or lack) changes the paradox or situation. Just trying to celebrate that I can recognize the paradoxes.

Is there really a "correct" side of the road?  Is the human brain engineered to veer left?  What if one is left handed (and therefore, according to some, reverse brained), do we still veer left?  Or maybe I am more ambidextrous, so should I veer left and right at the same time?

If 'veering'  running away?  What if we were to embrace our conflicts instead of running away?  If we were back in the caves 9000 years or so, wouldn't it make more sense to hug during conflict instead of turn our backs?  It's only the speeds of modern technology that makes veering away a more desirable outcome than coming together.

Maybe I am showing my feminine side there.  If so, I am comfortable with it. Comfortable enough to proudly hold a purse or handbag for someone else.  Or, maybe I am just getting old.  (Old would be the more obvious reason)

(Was sick last week, simple head cold stopped me for way too long)

Change hard?  No, not all change.  Seriously.  It's the "getting old" that is causing me to grow away from "15 year old me that knows I can figure everything out myself" to grow into "50 year old me that can still figure it out, but sometimes it is easier to talk to someone who has already solved that problem and learn from their mistakes"  The most important changes we often need are the ones we don't know we need.  And only (trusted) others can help us there. 

On the other hand, working from home means I am in my own office now (ok, old bedroom after the kids have empty nested us) and can listen to music all day.  I started working on a project with one of the kids (refurbishing a 1940's console radio) and made new speakers for that...but listened to them for a week. Now, I cannot go back to my old speakers.  I recognized the differences and can only move forward.  Change can be quite a b!tch sometimes. 

mm

 

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