Monday, 1 June 2009

tell the right stories and we live better lives

In four months and eight days I acquire a new age, a new year, and a new decade. I’ll be 30. Until today I felt more or less fine about it: it’s just another numeral flicking over into the next. But today it’s taken on hall of mirrors-style horror, all warped and weird.

Thing is, it’s not really just another year. It’s a big landmark on the roadtrip from here to there, the kind of thing you’d stop the car to have your picture taken beside; a Tropic of Capricorn on the unspooling road north. And while you were there you’d maybe hop back and forth across the line a few times, knowing it’s just a painted line indicating a fairly arbitrary location, but wondering still at all the distance you’d come and all the way still to go.

I thought that by the time I turned 30 I’d be good at something, really good, that I’d be recognised for the Thing, that people would be talking about the Thing and someone would say, ‘Let’s ask Clare, she knows that stuff better than anyone’ and everyone else would nod and feel reassured that the Thing was now in my good hands. I thought I’d have a book with my name on the spine wedged between Ali Smith and something I like a bit less than Ali Smith.

I thought I’d have a house. And a garden that I’d have finally learned how to be patient with and committed to so that it wasn’t a tray of drought-stricken seedlings I never seem to have time to plant out.

I thought I’d have a home, that somewhere would feel like home, that saying, ‘I’m going home now’ would be a place and a meaning and a sweet feeling.

I thought I’d have worked out how to be lovable all the time. That I’d be good at loving all the time, that I’d met somebody who thought I was all the world’s best magic and run down the aisle to marry them.

I thought I’d maybe have babies, bobbing in a bicycle seat behind me as I pedalled along the canal paths.

But I know that this is what I do: worry that there isn’t enough; turn the world into an empty pantry in ration time and me too hungry. I have a tendency to tell myself the wrong stories.

Actually, I have a lot. I have a beautiful, funny-shaped family that looks out for each other and mostly manages to love each other exactly as is, and I understand more and more how rare a gift that is. I am in love, fiercely, and when I let him, I’m loved back. I have a job that pays me enough money to have adventures and fresh food and new shoes. I’ve made a whole new life for myself, by myself. I’ve had cats and best friends and faraway friends and chance meetings that I’ve loved, and loved, and loved.

Lately the pace of things has been too fast, too many things that aren’t the things that make my world juicy, too much muchness, and it’s given me a bit of life-sized car-sickness. Maybe I’ll pull over and watch some clouds instead of pushing on towards that stupid line of latitude, and make up some stories about plans that didn't quite come off and about not having a plan at all.

1 comment:

reuben said...

30 is so liberating, i promise - it might not have looked it on me, but it was eventually.

word verification = ergendr.

my advice? don't have any, hidden or otherwise.