Thursday, August 14, 2008

who am I? I miss me.

I mentioned that I'd done the Wesley Car Boot sale the other day. That I'd gone into the chapel hall and its smell reminded me completely of the Protestant school I'd gone to. It was sort of born out of Wesley, in a way, as our mad headmaster came from teaching there. Amusingly, when I mentioned Wesley to my grandmother, she spat, 'I wouldn't send a dog to Wesley!' I don't know why, she didn't elaborate :)

Anyway, I have taught in a Catholic girls' school, and noticed a musty, Catholic smell in the old part of the building - walking under the cruxifix over the door and smelling that institutional smell was a very sensory experience. Though evocative of nothing familiar to me.
But the Protestant smell was evocative of my old school. Familiar too was the white bearded gent with the cultured and educated voice, with the name-tag saying 'Fraser'.

I was there with a girl my husband worked with, a lovely girl from Churchtown, who thinks I'm totally eccentric. Her associations with Wesley are of knacker drinking with her friends and abusing the Wesley boarders on their way to the shop - 'Haaa, no-one loves you, you've got no-one, that's why you're in a boarding school!'

Shit. That would never have occurred to me.

And it suddenly struck me, with an immense feeling of sadness. My mother's gone, we are drawing a veil over my relationship with my father, his extended family aren't so pro-active about socialising. And my husband's family and lots of friends - I'm not going to be able to explain this without sounding snobby. Despite the fact that there are lots of people that I love and esteem, they're not like me. When I talk to them I necessarily operate on a polite and more surface level. I edit my opinions and interests and responses, I'm not operating on default. That's the point. What's your default status?

I'm never on home ground. And to be honest, I'm not sure what that is anymore. I've been out of the loop so long that I now feel unsure of myself back in with the people I'm talking about. I've started feeling stupid around them, like I can't keep up. So I'm in a sort of no man's land. I hadn't really noticed til the smell and the Frazer guy sort of pushed a button of ... not belonging. Of likeness, I suppose.

This left me feeling depressed, a little lost, and hopeless. Like I've lost something and I'm not sure how to get it back. The fake Bray accent my daughter has adopted and can't get rid of is driving me nuts, and I miss theoretical conversation.

Perhaps I just miss my mother. She's the person I really identify with, to be honest. Jo versus the world.

6 comments:

Nick McGivney said...

It takes shag all to crack the artifice of the whole ball of wax, sister. I'm on a new trajectory. July saw a son, a wife and a father all hospitalised within 500 yards of each other, all for separate and life-threatening reasons. It also saw a job loss, and with it a threat to my mythical hunter-gatherer instinct and an assault on my perceived ability to provide for my family (mythical it all may be, but no less real for all that). I suddenly felt exposed to winds that I had never felt before, and terribly alone. All in the space of a couple of weeks. Prior to that I was humming about how lucky I was to have seen Bruce and Leonard (Hey! Lenny Bruce!) this summer. They were the highlights, and right now their incisive vision and scalpel lyrics are almost too tough to hear, because life's throwing itself at me too much.
Wandering? I don't think I am actually. The point is that there is no home ground. There's just that path that you took more times than others, because it was where your sense of stability emanated from. But it's not your path. It never was. And if you're lucky, you'll never know that and you'll be able to complain about the weather for the rest of your natural. But Jo, that won't work for the theoretical conversationalist. Them ones don't even know when it's pissing down on them. And the chemistry of the brain is a sneaky bastard too, triggering such things as memories. The Catholic smell that meant nothing to your olfactory senses? Your description of it was enough to spark it into life for me. But I'm trusting those fucking chemicals less and less. Seen the Matrix one too many times. ANd as for God, well I'm with Einstein: 'I believe in Spinoza's God who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with the fates and actions of human beings.' Oh sure, I'll play dolls and dress him up like Michelangelo did, but it doesn't change ultimately how unfamiliar I am with just exactly what's what. There is no path. But we still need our mammies to tell us it'll be ok.

Sniffle&Cry said...

Sometimes life is hard. And that’s the way it is. And I think, you also know in a couple of days the whole thing turns 180 and you feel good again. It’s a life thing Jo. No explanation, it’s the way we are. And there’s a thing, everyone feels the same way but can’t articulate like you can, in that sharp sharp styled way. My brother in law spoke to me about a moth’s wing, the air movement of his new born child’s breath. Tough I know, tough but it don’t get better. You spoke about your boy bumming around a couple of days back and his dancing. Commonnnn Jo the mama, do the thing Jo.

Thriftcriminal said...

Is there a default? We change continuously, even if we don't notice it. Nostalgia can cast us adrift and send us seeking something solid, but the solidity is an illusion from a time when the world and out parents seemed infallible giants, it is just a memory. At any given instant we just are who we are and all we can do is choose to spin something solid, tangible and good from that.

jothemama said...

I dunno, tc, sometimes I think we hardly ever change at all - you get a couple formative years, and then we're set. Like jelly :)

Thanks for the time and the words, gentlemen.

Anonymous said...

Jo, in a far more articulate way than I ever could, you've identified how I've been feeling for the past couple of years.
On the face of it I'm the same as my friends: middle class, 21 year old, white,city girl but they all match the stereotypes and I feel like an imposter; but I can't break away from the role I was raised into.
So I've been living my life on a surface level- playing along but feeling dead and lethargic underneath.
I think it's the need to find a new outlet or form of expression and your blog probably did that for a while but now you need something more?

jothemama said...

Thanks for that. Something more? I hadn't thought of that... extensive psychotherapy! :)