15 November 2007

They’re going to build a ladder/ it’s going to take you forever

Some girls direct their gaze at a distant point and scowl as they pass you, like you’re a tree trunk or a lower specimen of some kind - a child with a snotty nose maybe. I’ve done that before, a number of times, but I promise you - I’m not that girl.

Walking to work, I find that a tear will sometimes come to my eye because of the wind. If I squeeze hard enough, I can feel it on the bridge of my nose. At times like these, I wonder what it is I’m crying about, but then I remember: nothing. Sometimes a tear is just water. Sometimes the worst feelings never resolve into anything like crying.

I think that most people with okay upbringings are really reluctant to imagine the parental paradigm as anything but ultimately exonerated. I know this because there are loads of children with alcoholic mothers and absent fathers and violent grandparents, but anytime I’ve ever told someone I can’t love my mother, they think I’m making stuff up.

But really, it’s as though one day, some random person approached two crazy people (my parents) and handed them a bundle (me) and said to them, “Here, can you look after this for the next eighteen years? I’ve got a few errands to run.”

And my dad went out back to have a smoke and my mother looked into my eyes with her glistening, owlish dead ones and thought, “I need a new pink lipstick.”

If truth becomes creative enough, is it then considered fiction? Or does that only apply to undergrads with too much time on their hands?

Yesterday there was a fire drill at work. They test the system every week and a voice pipes up on the system to tell us it’s only a drill. But yesterday the alarm sounded and it was the wrong day of the week and there was no announcement and everyone got up and put on their coats and filed out into the stairwell.

We were on a high floor and it took a long time to get to the exit. At about the fifth floor, the alarm stopped sounding in short bursts and broke out into an ear-shattering death rattle. Then a voice did come onto the system. And the voice said there was a fire.

Everyone got stuck in the stairwell at that point; the queue stopped moving entirely, I’m not sure why. And I thought, “I’m going to die on the fifth floor of this building.”

But I didn’t, we all made it out, all 1100 of us, including the yellow-jacketed fire marshals, and into the park. Then we turned around and came straight back inside again.

Now that we’ve done that once safely, I know that the next time will be different. Your first run is always successful, your subsequent attempts riddled with mistakes.

I don’t want to be a mistake; I want to be spot on.

No comments: