This is the first post I've written on my new computer. I say "new" - it isn't anymore, really. After leaving a job where I worked on a MacBook Air, I decided to behave like a pro and get my own Pro, which is a beautiful machine, and badass. The Apple of my eye, as it were...
There's another apple of my eye that lives with me in the house in the clouds, these days. It's good to come home to notes on windows written in chalk pen, and honey-tea, and the most glorious pleased-to-see-you smile you've ever seen. After each failed relationship, I convince myself that being together with another person is an impossibility; that I enjoy my own freedom and self-autonomy too much to let it go. I am certain that the Apple of My Eye doesn't comprehend the heaviness that I sometimes carry on my shoulders, or that he is helping me with the burden. My troubles are featherweight to him...
Relationships always work magic, but the dark magic they sometimes inflict can take lifetimes to counter. The symbols of old relationships stir from the frieze of everyday life, sharply for me, but I always find myself intrigued by how my brain deals with them. The way I feel about sirens is a perfect example.
Growing up in the countryside, I was far more attuned to my surroundings than I am, now. Everything had a purpose, there. Not just action, but sound and sense. Action and reaction were connected. I hear sirens these days and wonder where they are going or what is wrong, and feel pointlessly anxious for those people who are probably having the worst day of their lives, despite knowing I'll never find out why.
When I was young, the noises that set alarm bells ringing were usually those of animals in distress: a lamb with its head caught in a fence (they weren't used to having horns so when they finally did, they got stuck, frequently), or a ewe having trouble in the dead of night, in lambing season. It was common to be woken by frantic screaming noises in the early hours, during a blizzard-whiteout. The noise had a tangible impact. You'd be struck wide awake as soon as you heard it, feel your way across the landing - tip-toeing along the edges of the floorboards (my mother called them the coffinboards) and put all your weight on the balusters so that your weight made them creak as little as possible. No point in waking everyone up. But I was born in that house. I knew its noises like I knew my own voice. At that point I'd usually encounter my father, more solid darkness than the darkness, already in his thick Danish cable-knit, and smelling like he always smelled. Of woodsmoke, and sweat. We'd give a silent nod to each other, and methodically pull on multiple pairs of socks, balaclavas, gloves, swathes of mismatched scarves and walking boots in the dark as the embers of the fire slumbered softly in corner. Two torches each, in case the first one died. If it was lambing season, sometimes we would find ourselves outside for hours. Sometimes there was nothing we could do. The thread had frayed, beyond repair, and the morning would see a sad, flat piece of lambskin, slick and cold, discarded in the corner, and the ewe, hysterical-eyed and exhausted, if she had survived at all.
My father nearly burned the house down, last year. Those sleeping embers finally caught him out, and had started nibbling on the wood pile next to the fire, itself. My father woke, unsettled, to the smell of woodsmoke, opened his bedroom door, and the blinding darkness rushed in.
He's been pretty philosophical about it all. He installed a woodburner, scraped the charred bits off the beams, and point blank refuses to discuss it with anyone. I think perhaps he doesn't talk about it because he realises how close his house of wood and wattle and cropped thatch came to killing him. Have you ever seen how quickly fires catch? That smoke could have eaten him alive and spat out the bones.