I am standing at a dangerous place at the moment. I have lost Frank, and Frank, as you all know, has been my sanity for as long as I can remember. I did not realise it, of course. I think it is only normal to not realise when things are lost until we need them, huh?
I woke in the middle of a dream, where I was the idiot who was laying punches on the tar baby while Zumba-ing. It was quite a dream. My heart rate was rising, and I had begun to feel my head fill itself with blood. My legs would not stop and my heart was pounding pounding, trying to keep up. Then my world began to close in on me, and before I knew it, I had four limbs in the tar baby, and I began hyperventilating.
I was about to give up and die, right there. Then I heard the voice of David Grossman speaking one of his quotes loud and clear:
“The moment we take pen in hand or put fingers on keyboard, we have already ceased to be a victim at the mercy of all that enslaved and restricted us before we began writing. We write. How fortunate we are: The world does not close in on us. The world does not grow smaller.”
There are times my world close in on me, and all I can do is retreat. But then retreating only leads me to face the lumpy carpet in the centre of my mind. The very lumpy carpet. I had a very very lumpy carpet. Most uncomfortable to sit on.
I woke up yelling for Frank, and then realised — he was gone.
So naturally, I began spring cleaning. And man, I had a lot of trash. Not lying around, no. My home was minimalist, perfectly clean and dust-free. I had a lot of trash under my carpet.
The thing is, I hate cleaning. I mean I clean often, but that is surface cleaning. I hate clearing things out like this because you have to sift through the trash, some of which are like bloody meat, with veins still semi-beating, hanging off its rotten bone. I have things like that under my carpet, yes. And as much as I would rather sit there stuck in the tar baby, between the mountain of trash and the claustrophobic world, I was suffocating.
So I did the worst thing possible. I rolled up my carpet exposing years of rotten trash. My eyes began to water, and I began to choke as the cloud of dust lunged itself forward to hug me tight.
The amount of things I have swept under the carpet.
Damn that Frank, to disappear at a time such as this.
So I patiently went through the pile of dust.
There was Donna. Seated with fat flailing over the sides of the tiny round stool stuck between the meat of her bottoms. There were flies, and her eyes were half-open, her legs black, her abdomen hollow, with bits of rotting meat clinging onto the ribs. You would think rotting things wouldn’t grow. But this woman had grown, I swear. She’s twice as fat as she was before I chucked her under here.
Donna is a collection of persons, really, whom I have crumpled together like old wrapping paper into a tight ball. They were the same sort — the ones who had beaten me down, despite their own intentions. The ones whom I started off trying to respect, but as time went on grew resentful of, and when I finally admitted my anger to myself, I stabbed Donna on the inside while trying so very hard to remain respectful.
Oh, the snide remarks. “So you think you are such a good writer, huh?” My face wound itself tight around my nose as I stared her down. She wanted too much for me to fit within her mould and her expectations. Those moulds were far too tight.
For her my mind shriveled up tight, closing in upon itself. And I swear I saw my talent run out the door. I, for the longest time, lost Frank, and my ability to write anything.
There I was, angry, with my tar baby. Stuck. Frozen.
A while ago I had tuned in to a Jeanette Winterson video. In it she was giving her Sydney Writers Festival talk, and she came to the subject of Forgiveness. It was powerful.
I tried to recall Winterson’s words when Donna attempted to stand. So I ran at her with my big black plastic bag, trying to catch her. The bag broke. She cocked her head and crossed her arms.
“Listen, listen, listen.”
Dear God, seriously?
“Why are you so insolent?”
“Get out of my life, you stupid bitch. No sorry, you are not a bitch, you are a witch. I resent you and you want to know why. You are judgmental and narrow-minded, you are bitter and self-righteous, you are stubborn and old. You jump and cling on fresh new flesh and suffocate it to death. You are stifling. You are condescending. You do not respect me, nor anyone else for that matter, because you think you are better.”
Then she stood there, still. Staring at me. I was almost breathless and voiceless from my screaming.
I knew that if I wanted to win this battle against this piece of trash I needed to let her go, really.
“I am sorry I never told you that. And I am sorry for resenting you.”
In my mind I had to replay the times she made me feel that way, and forgive her within myself. Unclench my fist around my resentment and let her free.
Her stench was horrendous, but as I unclenched my fist around each thought, she began to weep.
And weep she did. She wept herself into a pool of dust, and I swept her into the dust pan.
Exhausted, I was.
I heard a key turn in the lock, and my front door swung open. In walked Frank with some coffee.
He flashed me a smile as he walked in.
“Wow. Huge mess, huh? Coffee break?”
I nodded. We sat and I reloaded that Winterson clip I had been watching.
“‘Why be happy when you can be normal’. Ha. I see.”
I sipped my coffee quietly and turned to look at my pile. My heart sank. I put down my cuppa and unrolled the carpet over the remaining trash.
Frank nodded and lifted his left brow. “Why spring clean when you can just unroll the carpet?”
“Hmm. I think writing is a lot like spring cleaning.”
Frank pointed to the lumpy carpet and raised his brow again.
“Alright, just do it before I get lost again.”
Image is ‘Chanticleer – An American “Pleasure Garden” near Philadelphia‘ by UGArdener on Flickr.
Raina does not really know what to write in this blurb except she now and then talks to her dead grandma, ruminates with Frank, has tea with Oscar Wilde, feels homesick for places she has never been and dreams of a man she has yet to meet.