Unlike Osk, who seemed to establish his own tactical task force wherever we lived, scooping up neighbourhood feline troublemakers as sidekicks (including the memorable ginger behemoth Watson, with whom he used to scope the street from the safety of the shed roof), Jelly has the intelligence gathering skills of a sponge cake.
If you were to put it in superhero parlance, for me depression is akin to attaching the lariat of coolness to my mind’s bathers, snapping on the scissor-cut sock mask of awesomeness; and then sitting on the bathroom floor for a week because in my heart of hearts, I know that Metropolis, or Gotham, or the world outside the door, is better off without some fucking idiot in a stupid red bed sheet messing things up.
It's to be hoped a wedding anniversary is a time for loving, reflective remembering, at least. It may, of course, be the case that TMWVRDT is in fact in the other room right now with his handy-dandy Kato Voodoo Doll kit. But I'd like to err on the side of optimism, and believe he's thinking happy thoughts, casting his mind back with fondness to that not-so shy, semi-blushing bride striding down the aisle towards him before he could run for cover.
Good times, good times.
Anyway, somewhere in between my 'and then you should've done this' and 'why didn't you say x and y, rather than z', and 'for the love of monkeys and the general public's eyesight, you didn't honestly wear that heinous shirt did you', something he was saying about the dating extravaganza we were picking to pieces finally penetrated my cloud of self-congratulatory cumulo-waffle.
"Most people don't talk about how dates are progressing as a tender process, do they?" he asked.
"She said I was 'part way through the tender process' and that she was judging me on my submission. I'd like to think there was irony involved, and I think at the time I may have given an admittedly weak "haha, yesssss, quite". Looking back, I'd have to conclude, computer says no on the presence of Fabulon or other aids to achieving crisply pressed linen."
I stress, on a day all about the paterfamilias, I’m not trying to hold onto some unreal hypothetical father. A dad who didn’t exist in reality. Some kind of miracle worker who could fix Foxtel in a single bound; Saint Kennebec of the Holy Tasmanian Potato who suddenly, after death, becomes a fast-tracked candidate for canonisation, and consists of a fondly and vastly inaccurately remembered combination of Don Bradman, Glenn Miller, Douglas Bader, Terry Pratchett, Fantastic Mr Fox and the Duke of Wellington.
The amazing thing to me is not that people write, and write so beautifully. No. That is just the best of the human spirit at work. What is truly astonishing is that it's done within the limitations of our written alphabets. How extraordinary it is to be able to express so many feelings, thoughts, emotions, opinions, fears, hopes, joys, sadnesses, expectations, desires, hates - all bound by the insignificant characters we call our tools.
Now, as a matter of circumstance and space, my books are mostly contained – or is that constrained? – within the digital layers of a device. But what I find more and more, as I learn how much I don’t yet know as a writer, is how much that library of childhood lives on within my memories. It is a mental repository of what I cannot leave behind me; things I desperately hold onto, which shoot up out of the old manual card carousel when least expected, at random moments of thought and time.
I have massive overdue fines to pay on the tomes of lost loves I cannot let go of. They have backed up over the years; each with their own set of particular conditions and dates identifying them, a Dewey Decimal system of loss. E.1996.DS: Death in the Garden.
And those scratched, half-waxed wooden flaws? They retain a beauty hidden deep inside the grain, which is far more precious than any cold perfect marble, slumbering for a thousand eternities, locked in an infinite sleep of incomprehension and carelessness. Once, they lived, and understood pain, and mud, sweat, blood, tears, and noise – and they accept us, boots and all.
It’s the equivalent of grabbing a shopping cart and being let loose in a Target of the Soul while we’re emotionally starving. Aisle One: the damaging ‘friendships’ we drift out of once our usefulness to the emotional vampire has ended. Aisle Two: baaaaad dates, that we end up regaling the few non-drifty friends with, over far too many martinis on a Tuesday night. Aisle Three: non-dates, who simply don’t show up, and end up filed in one of the many cardboard boxes of cautionary tales we keep carefully hidden in our psyches, under a sticker with ‘meh’ written on it. Sadly, not returnable. Usually marked down.
I need to know some things, Satan Claws. I do not understand what Christmouse Carols are. The one first, why do you sing Christmouse songs about ladies named Carol, when you could sing about cats. The one second, you sing SCARY songs at Christmouse! Why would you go away with a stranger, when they do not even have a crib (which is very comfy) for a bed??? That is just dumb. Also. This is a tip, because I like you, and your reindears are funny – do not give away to anyone presents. NO PRESENTS TO ANYONE EXCEPT OSKIES, AND MAYBE KATO. You do not need to give kings things like gold and my purr, that is just wrong! It is not frank good sense, it is frank bad sense. They have enough stuffs.
Being human, being a member of Team Homo Sapiens; well, it’s just too much like hard work. In fact, it isn’t just like hard work – it is work. To run as primates of the family Hominidae, the aforementioned homo sapiens (although the sapiens is a misnomer, if you ask me) – is the equivalent of getting up, showering, throwing down an Egg McMuffin, and clocking into the most inane, drivel-driven workplace in the history of drivel-driven workplaces –
– and never clocking out.
It’s hard to imagine being at home in 1916, one hundred years ago, waiting for news of fathers, sons, husbands, fiancés, brothers, away at ‘the War’. If I were here, where I am now, in Perth, chances are my husband would have been serving in the 25th Light Horse Regiment somewhere in Palestine or the Sinai, a proud Sandgroper representing state, country and Crown. And me – well, in theory, I would have been at home, keeping the campfires burning, writing long letters to the Front, and dreaming of the day he came home to me, safe and sound.