It is not a life that I would have chosen had I had any kind of free will in the matter. If I could have picked a life off the peg, tried it on for size, hauled one off a shelf and slithered into it like a snake into a skin, trying not to burst the bubble, to fray the edges with the size of me, I would have picked one entirely more comfortable than this. I would have liked to have gone from school to college, married some lawyer and birthed an entire herd of mary poppinsed children that would have adored me and called me mater. There would have been a few good dogs, some mild mannered good-natured activism, and once a year I would have gone to watch The Ring Cycle, sitting alone in a box, with a pair of opera glasses, a box of bonbons, and a large bombay sapphire gin and tonic. Holidays would have been taken in sensible places with beaches for children and dogs. I fancy I would have taken up watercolors or gardening. Sat at a piano and played Bach. I suppose at least I once used to sit at a piano and play Bach. I used to be a good pianist, classically trained, but wimped out at about the time life took its toll. My hands were too small anyhow.
No excuses. I could have pulled life back to some approximation of that pattern. I could have anchored myself to a safer, more conventional reality. The results of my exams at 18 fluttered into view, a few days after I ran away. A. A. A. A. I had universities on the telephone. I had the world at my feet. I was 17. I could have been anyone. I could have done anything. I could have, could have…. should have. But I didn’t. I could have still made it to shore, I suppose, even after that first year away alone where I dismantled myself entirely. The trouble was I was constitutionally unable to comply and conform. I was a round shaped woman in a square world. Every time I found myself on solid ground I threw it all away in disgust and shook off the chains around me.
I wrote, I wrote and wrote, with my little wicker basket of drugs and hash next to me, surviving on artistic aspirations, a consumptive desire, and orange juice. I sat and put the finishing touches to a twisted Alice in Wonderland novel, called that Book of Beginnings….
Once below a time there was a little girl, and you might laugh, but she really could tell a truth from a half baked truth, and the colors in between that silently fell…upon a dirty canvas her house she created from her innocence and glee, secreted within gaudy shades she waited, as quiet as the flea that feeds off the backs of neighborhood cats, and cries and wails…This little Girl, shall we call her Babooshka, never really did quite what she oughta, or what was expected of her by others who proposed to know but just moaned and muttered about the secrets contained within certain texts, weed and gin, but never the ultimate Truth, contained within. For what is Truth but the random remarks of madmen, fools and those in the dark: those in the light merely recognize the Truth, but rarely recognize the need for conscience, humility and mercy when prescribing or ascribing Truth…so amongst themselves they fight and bicker, over morsels partaken along with dinner or tea in cafes, with every mishap stumbling sending a rush to grab ’em….but never cause, bitter shoen, dear Madam. So in conclusion to this tale and in introduction to the others, Babooshka’s sad fate we must now discover. One dark winter’s day she was walking home, she had given herself a fright, or had been given, no matter which, she was still cross, there’s the hitch, she fell or was thrown or threw herself under a passing train. …Which stopped the great pain…
…in the backside she had become. So all those who dance and play in the light, waltzed and shouted in great delight! Hoi Babooshka! Babooshka’s dead, did you hear? Never should have been alive, up went the cheer. Who made the throw? Good man…well played…Ever regret the passing of another bright day…
Player or not…we all die….just not the same. ..
As I typed the last words, I was overwhelmed by a need to destroy it, all the typewritten pages. I gathered them up in a sheaf spreading them out in my arms like a baby, dumped the entire manuscript into the metal waste paper basket, and threw a match into it and watched it burn baby, burn. Orange flames curled the words, ate the spaces between them, turning to ashes everything I had written. Except I couldn’t delete, burn or destroy that which I could remember. I tried to write it again and again and again, then put it down and realized it had gone forever the words razed and returned to the ground, and instead wrote something else.
Burning words. Moveable feasts. Tales of exile. Tales of exodus. Tales of survival and wars and battles and losses and life. Sometimes I wrote the words, sometimes they wrote me. A sad excuse for a creative life. Writing and creating, burning and decimating. This is the longest I have gone without destroying everything I created. I feel my finger hovering over the delete button, and go make a cup of tea, or smoke a joint, or pick up the guitar.
TS Elliot did say there would be a time to murder and create. ….