I wrote and I raked and I tended the gardens. I finished stories that needed finishing. I started new ones that needed told. I also drank booze and kept ridiculous diaries. Here are some choice excerpts:
Well Jane. Here you are. Here is something new. I have a great idea (from now on, all great ideas must be pre-announced to the abyss, a hangover from too long living with someone else, someone oblivious to the myriad of crazy that flitters through my brain. I am traversing endless tundra, leaping from precarious rocks of inclination to jagged hooks of ideas. Sometimes everything goes so fast and so far from the original conversation I feel I have to justify things, like stepping out your door and your disobedient feet carrying on their way until they show up all the way across town, like seeing someone there you know, like saying hi, like them asking what you’re doing, like having to tell them in words that aren’t quite true but just the best approximation of reasons that can be passed on like cards, downturned lest you see the face. Anyway), a new project…
Alone, I feel I want to talk about the strangeness of my own body, mine again, not in a filthy way: I mean mine to cut onions. I mean a new kitchen, different drawers, no half-finished bottles, no old dazed dried herbs. A brand new thing with only that which I place into it. Do you understand? It’s everything. It’s no chopping board, me cutting on a plate, slipping with the knife. It’s a lack of stock: the cubes or the metaphor, the simmering things that stick around, adding flavour. I am alone in the kitchen and I feel powerful. I see myself without splashes of balsamic and dashes of worcestershire and I cook, and I am impressed. I feel like a powerful creature, scooped from my cosy home. This is how I feel away from my sourdough starters and spice drawers: strong. I feel like a woman who has etched her slate clean and is starting again and can do it. This is the way I feel too, when I pin scarves and frocks to the wall when we check into soulless hotels. But no thought of that now. What I am trying to say is that I would like to talk of women starting again. Of blank, beige walls. Of what you find when you open a door to an empty room. Of when it stays that way. Of the first moment, the intake of breath, looking around: this is mine now. My mistakes are my own decisions.
I wonder about taking the duvet into this room and putting down on my hands and my knees and pushing my head beneath it, pretending to be a cat. No one would need to see me and it wouldn’t matter if I didn’t make a very good cat, I could just get down there and roll on the carpet. The duvet would feel soft against my head. I could tease the air. Me and the duvet could be other things: not human. It would be a duvet and I would be a cat. I know it doesn’t need me to go in on this to pretend to be part of it, but I cross my fingers anyway and hope that when I go through there and ask, it will be open to the idea, it will be excited, it will be willing to say YES. That is all I am looking for, in truth. For the inanimate objects around me to agree to my terms, for a while at least. For them to say ok. For us to curl together instead of fighting and know that we are not cats, neither of us, but we are on the floor, rolling, laughing, coughing, confused, falling asleep.
Cast deep into the woods, I was bewitched by fire. Hello Prometheus, I smell your bulb of fennel, scorched and of the earth. Come close, lickety orange tongues: come closer. Let me feel your breath of my face. Let me taunt you with my curves and caresses. Let me plunge my wrists deep into your waiting embrace. I am giddy for the smell, feral for it, wild dogs and blood. I want to set things alight. Who could blame me? I nearly died, I tell you, I nearly died. We gagged on smoke. I cannot tell this story enough. Sometimes I think it is my only story, my defining moment: I nearly died. You do not understand because you have never nearly died. Or if you have: you do not understand because you cannot understand other stories, you only have one story, your story of how you nearly died. How is it so bright, so orange, a cracked ring of light around the rock in the embers? Hack, hiss, pssst, furor. God, I want my teeth in flesh. I am bored of London. I was never besotted by its streets. This city does not smell like home. I want to draw blood. Not my own. Someone else can draw that. I would also like to be destroyed; I would like to feel my life is still capable of destroying. I know my life is capable of destruction. Goddamit, just let me scream.
Re-calibrating. I like this thought. I think of Mary Gaitskill talking of being a prostitute: I didn’t do much writing then. I was working on reforming my personality. Sometimes we need to step back and reboot. That is fine. I can’t fucking believe how beige this room is. If anything, the few tiny things make it worse. Teapots in the shelves. Fuck that. My next room will be the most gaudy thing you have ever seen. There, my soul might be quiet. There will be pink neon and red light bulbs and all kinds of tat and trash. I will have a wind-up radio and feather boas nailed to the walls. Ostrich feathers! Anyway. I feel rebooted. So much thinking. What else to do? My god, these walls are beige…
…Sitting on worksurfaces makes me feel fabulous. More of this please. I think my brain is happy to be getting drunk early on a Monday night. I am scrurried and delightful, crosslegged in the kitchen. I am setting fire to matches to see how long I can hold them for; I am sniffing them exuberantly. I love the Strokes! I remember being fifteen. I thought this album would last forever. Oh that feeling. I wanted everything I have now and now I am thinking of then with envy. Imagine telling that Jane about the things you did in New York. She would lose her hyperbolic, delicious, teenage mind.
You are lonely: let me tell you about the smell of the rain. I know you keep your doors closed tight in a storm like this, windows buttoned; I know how you plug the gaps to keep out the drips and draughts. You needn’t. The rain will never hurt you, little thing, even if you leave a crack for it to penetrate. Did you ever think: maybe the rain is lonely too? Well, no. The rain is not lonely. The rain is something that needs nothing. This is all you want: to be something that needs nothing. But here you are, stuck with your body, endlessly hungering, thirsting, longing, roaring. You try to be still and small and unobserved, but here you are, needing.
Feel that drip? That drip is for you. Hear the purr and patter? Those are for you. Smell the rain. Breathe in its heavy, mineral scent. The smell of the slithering moss on the back wall of the cave, of dank forest, undisturbed. That is for you.
Nobody is asking you to hide. You are not something that needs nothing--so go, scream and wail and gnash your teeth, yowl with the wind, gather your bulk like the thickening clouds. Grab and snatch, take take take with your small-knuckled hands. Or just collapse before them and demand that they see: you are something that needs, oh God, you are something that needs. Tell them this, make them see. Let yourself fall upon the earth, thunderously, like rain.
Here is something to say: I am done with the working week. Done. Let’s put Kate Bush on the stereo. Let’s run up hills in the raging storms; let’s fling our heads and let the hailstones tangle in our curls. Are you really happy with this all, this? Can you hold your ever-throbbing heart up to the light and see the beams shine through its sinews and say “yes, it’s enough”? You can? Well: fuck you. I want a million things more. I want to be raging, I want to tornado along the point where the waves meet the sand--the twilight scorching holes in the hems of our frocks, the rum trickling down our chins. Time to gather our tasks and our tax returns, to stack them and douse them and tango round the pyre. Sweetheart, it’s time. No more fucking around. Let’s yoke our fate to the wriggle of the charmed snake, rising from the basket. Let’s cast our die with the degenerates, the decadents, the howling wolves with blood on their muzzles. Areeow! Please: take me some place I can rip out my bones and fling them in the ocean, leave them to be battered by tempests till they wash up bleached and perfect on the shore. Take me to the crater where the guts of the Earth roil, so I can lean over and cackle and wait for everything to erupt. I don’t think this is too much to ask. I am sick of: pretending to be normal; career negotiations; considered email replies. Goddamit, I am bored of the Internet. From now on, I am eschewing Wikipedia in favour of constellations, ley lines, and filthy gossip. I am giving up Google and taking up pawing the soil.