61. When Under Ether

pexels-photo-404153.jpegI’m a lark, one of those annoying early birds, including Sundays. I’ve usually had second breakfast before “Match of the Day” has even begun, and a lazy brunch is far too late to make it the first food that passes my lips that day. It is practically lunch. I have often eaten my sandwiches at work well before noon, and I’m ready for bed at the time most ten-year olds are.

My reason for this extreme body clock is simple. Whenever I try to sleep-in, I lucid dream. They’re not always pleasant. Sometimes they are extremely, satisfyingly enjoyable. Yes, that is what I mean. If I’m in the mood, my imagination can conjure the perfect nocturnal delights that wake me at the precise moment of bliss. However, if I’m processing some difficult emotions, I can have a nightmare, that I try desperately to escape from, and often wake with sleep paralysis.

Do I want to live for something or die for it?

Even after all this time, I still sleep, if you can call it that, on my side of the bed. I’m used to going to bed alone, but when that wave of realisation crashes over me as I reach out for him, I still have to fight to breathe. His t-shirt no longer has his scent, and they stopped making his body spray ages ago. Even his junk mail has ceased.

I sometimes consciously plan to lucid dream, so we can spend time together, and he does occasionally find me.

I know he will never fully leave me and I recognise him in the faces of strangers in crowds or on the tube. Touched by proxy, I keep the train ticket as a bookmark because the conductor’s manner reminded me of him. I saw the same play three times because an actor’s character had the same gait. A million British men have his exact lack of hair. A colleague’s husband hugged me goodbye and I gasped as it was so familiar. They understood. Our son looks just like his dad did when I met first him. He has his own life now, so he’s around less and less, but I still often cry after I see him. I’m not alone.

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58. Not on a School Night.

People, jobs, houses and food in real life are hardly ever like they are on the telly. So why do so many believe that the sex they have will be exactly like it is on screen? The most popular misconception (ha! no pun intended) is that people go out for a massive dinner and loads to drink on a date, and then find they are completely, intimately, perfectly compatible their first time with each other.

All we ever wanted as teenagers was privacy. We had so much free time but no-where to go for an hour of uninterrupted, guaranteed privacy, without annoying little siblings or parents poking their noses round the door without knocking. Couldn’t parents remember how they felt when they were young? This was biology and wasn’t illegal. We were over the age of consent and were a loving, committed couple who genuinely cared for each other. No drama, but respect and adoration. Wasn’t this exactly the kind of first love you hoped for?

Teenagers are going to have sex. You can try to think you can stop them or you can give them a little space now and then.

When we were happy, flirty, relaxed, and the kissing went on for ages, we were sometimes tainted with anxieties or alcohol. Too much pot made me feel lazy, hungry and sick. Safe experimentation. A real Shakespearean tragedy.

The opportunities at college were endless and fun, but does anyone ever really make the most of those few years? After college, not so much. I have no interest in any form of identifying potential partners where choosing someone based on their looks is initially the most important factor (niteclubs, internet dating) I think I’d miss out on too many people I’d find fascinating.

Goalposts move again. We now have as much privacy as we like, but no time.

I haven’t had a shower today.

I’m ovulating in a couple of days, so it will be amazing then. We should wait.

I was supposed to have an early night tonight because I’m really busy tomorrow.

We should have done it before I ate so much food.

It’s timing, luck and being open to trusting someone with your heart. I know people who say they want to meet someone, but appear (to me) to be afraid of making any moves or looking as if they are even interested, because they’ve been hurt and disappointed, so now want to remain in control. The one who is least invested in the relationship holds the power. They make potential partners prove their worthiness, or play passive aggressive emotional games. Isn’t risk a part of love?

Holding out in case someone better comes along is a waste of a chance at building a life with someone you already love. If ‘the one’ did exist, then it is a miraculous coincidence that so many people find their one and only soul mate, who is exactly the same age as them, living in their very own home town, maybe even at the same place of work or school. What are the odds on that?

Sorry, but meet cutes are for teen drama Sunday afternoon rom coms. I’ve never heard of anyone ever meeting their dream partner like this.

“She felt a jolt of electricity as their hands lightly touched when they both reached for the same avocado from the display in Wholefoods. Shy blushing smiles over soya lattes an hour later, they made plans to meet up for brunch and walk their dogs together at the weekend.”

*clicks fingers in the air twice* Hello? Your life is not a Molly Ringwald film.

No-one could ever possibly know us like we do. No two years are ever the same. We make our own rules for ourselves that are no-one else’s business but our own. Why would we ever compare our lives to other people? If we do make comments then it’s usually “thank god we’re nothing like them”.

“No it’s not like any other love.

This one’s different because it’s us.”

‘Hand in Glove’ by The Smiths 

And if we all do end up in ‘San Junipero’, then we can all live out our parallel lives for eternity, with those travelling on other paths that we’ve met in this life.

37. This is No Fairy Tale

This is a special post for International Women’s Day.

Once upon a time, not that long ago, in a land not far from this one, there lived a girl called Rose. She was the oldest daughter of a farming family and was a beautiful bud on the verge of blossoming into a vibrant young woman. We would say she was a teenager, and nowadays she would enjoy years of delicious freedom, finish her education and discover her own world between childhood and womanhood.

Alas, not then. She was not educated at school, for that would be a waste of time and money. She spent her days cleaning, cooking and helping her mother to look after her brothers and sisters. Any free time she might have had, was taken up with making and mending clothes, baking bread or helping with the running of the farm.

One day, a very average man, rode into the village on a white horse. Once he saw how hard-working Rose was, he decided she would make a very suitable wife for him to replace the one who had recently died in childbirth. He asked her father for her hand in marriage and a good price was agreed. It was all arranged and would make good business sense to have another farmer in the family. Plus those eight poor children would have a mother. Rose did not care for this man for she had never even spoken to him. Aside from him being nearly as old as her own father, he was not at all appealing to look at and she knew nothing about him. However, she was not consulted, and would have had no choice in the matter in any case.

The next day Rose was to be married. As she was her father’s property, she was given away by him to the man, who was to own her from that day forward. She wore a white dress to prove she was a virgin, and at the ceremony she had to promise to do whatever her new husband wanted her to do and obey his every command.

From working on the farm, Rose had some idea what her husband was going to do to her on their wedding night, but she was not looking forward to it. Her mother had told her that it would be painful and that she might bleed. She was not even allowed to ever touch herself there because she was unclean. But she was one of the lucky girls who had not had a knife taken to that part of her body when she was a child and no man had ever forced himself on her. Even if a man had used his power and strength to overcome her and take what he wanted, it would always have been entirely her fault. That was the way things were. Her choice was not an option.

Rose knew that if she did what she was told, worked hard, knew her place and kept her mouth shut, she would have as life as good as every other woman she had ever heard of. She knew that to be seen as a good wife, there would be lots of babies and although having them would hurt like hell, she would fulfil the reason she was here for. Women who talked or knew too much were often possessed by the devil and needed to be punished.

So she began her new life with her new name. She missed her family dreadfully at first and began to wonder what it would be like to go out every day and see the world like her brothers did. If she did not keep the house and increasing brood of children clean, and her husband well fed and satisfied, he might beat her, leave her or throw her into the asylum. If she was disowned or shunned, she had no way of earning a living, and what would be the point anyway? Even if she worked harder than any man she could not earn as much as they did. How could she provide for her family when she could not have a bank account or rent anywhere for them to live? A man could easily earn enough to provide for a wife to look after his children whilst he was out at work. A fallen or spoiled woman could barely earn enough to feed herself, let alone pay for anyone else she cared for. She could not own property and she was not allowed to vote to change the law so she could buy. No, she was better off staying where she was to try and make the best of things. Even if she hated her husband and he was cruel, the law would not permit her to take her children with her if she left. She had responsibilities now.

Her husband was too old to go to the war, and she had far too many children to leave at home to fend for themselves for even a moment, so Rose was not one of the fortunate ones who was permitted to take a man’s job whilst he was away fighting for his country. Of the men who did return, some were disfigured, gave their wives diseases or had nightmares and dark moods.

It occurred to Rose whether any woman had ever achieved in life anything other than wife and mother, but she had never heard anyone ever tell her tales of the past from something called HIS STORY. She could not read and had no other way of finding anything out other than what other people told her. She wanted her own daughters to have more than she had. As they were not allowed to inherit money or property, then they should have more knowledge to make their way in the world. Rose would make sure they knew about all the things she wished she had known before she was married.

She did as much farming as her husband, but he was known as the farmer and she was the farmer’s wife. She had contributed easily as much to the family as her husband did, as well but he owned all the money. She knew how to run the farm and manage on whatever money he gave her, so when he suddenly died, Rose decided that there would be some changes around the place. With the upheaval of the war, she decided not to tell the authorities that her husband was dead, for they may interfere. Instead, if anyone asked, she would say he was away. Later on, she would say he died in the war and no-one ever pressed her further. Few people ever came to the farm and the sheer number of children meant that they did not need any extra paid labour. Hardly anyone ever asked where the master was, and over time, he was forgotten.

Working on a farm, having ten of her own babies as well as the eight she inherited  plus a couple of waifs and strays that had found their way to her, had prepared her well. Rose decided that she and all of her children would learn to read and write. Her daughters could become midwives or nurses, if they were so inclined. They could help other women to have babies and provide support for them before and after the birth. She knew men would not interfere in this idea or try to take over, as it was seen as woman’s work.

Her sons were capable of running the farm and their future wives could decide for themselves what they wanted to do with their time.

This made Rose feel both free and in control for the first time in her life. No man would want to take her on as her youthful bloom had long since faded and her body was weary. Her spirit shone on. She invited her elderly parents to live at the farm and rest out their days watching their grandchildren grow. The work was shared; this village raised the children, and there was plenty of love and food for all.

As the wise, gentle matriarch of this flourishing community, Rose lived happily ever after.

The End.

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