Our lives are kind of like a book, they have a beginning and an ending. Most books have chapters, with many being written in chronological order and exploring themes of love, life, death, travel, food, religion, family, politics and more. Some books are short, other books may even have sequels.
If my life were a book, it would have a spine so tattered that it might look like it belonged to Ronald Weasley. Haven’t we all picked up a book so old that pages start to breakaway from the binding? I suppose that would be the case for me. Despite all the pages being stuffed back in haphazardly, there are others which were torn and burnt to ashes. Some memories too painful that I wish to never relive or revisit them. Some pages in the earlier years are blank, because honestly, there is not much to remember and some were not worthy to even put into print. In some chapters I’m 18 sitting in that blue room in Headspace talking to my rather pathetic therapist who was unable to see the signs of a young girl who was depressed and self-harming as a way to self-soothe. The red cuts up my right arm festering beneath just as my depression was consuming my mind.
An entire chapter is ripped out and gutted, pages so violently pulled out that they are only half-torn. Fragments of that chapter now remain, the remnants of something so sinister that the thought of self-harm seems rather appealing.
The chapters of my first year at university are the ones I cherish. The days where I fell in love with the Middle East. The complexities of the region; the people, culture and politics of it all had me entranced. It was in the year 2019 that I fell in love with the world of academia, but it was also the year in which I found myself.
My book is still incomplete and whilst I know there are so many chapters gone, I hope there are many more yet to come.
Isabel Allende’s memoir, Paula, has me completely engrossed. I think on some level I can relate some feelings to what she expresses, however, there is a distance in this book created as a result of the differences in the way in which we experienced grief. Despite the distance, she still somehow manages to pull me back in and leaves me wanting to read more. Her words so profound and moving that she relates to all readers in some way with humour seeping through and alleviating devastating and heartbreaking moments on her experience with loss.
I do my best to conceal my emotions but the rage comes out like lava; hot and dangerous. The fatigue is like a heavy cloak over my body, with only my belly protruding finding freedom whilst the rest of me becomes enveloped by the weight of pressure.
It’s to a point where I can no longer hide it and now my hands and feet have been released and unbound from its tethers. I wear a black maternity jumpsuit, my hair short and black, suitable for the warm weather so it catches the breeze on the occasional windy day. I walk through the mall swerving around the flocks of people until I make my way to the bookstore. I see Matthew Perry’s new book and am tempted to purchase it, but instead, I turn towards the classics.
I consider if this baby would come out like me, or maybe like her father. I try to stifle the potential disappointment I’d feel if the latter were to occur and focus my energy on having a healthy baby but I’m afraid. I’m afraid of my own ineptitude and my indecision. A love stifled by my inability to decide but further fractured by instability in our own lives. Inadequacies about parenthood so deeply embedded but only persisting because of fragile relationships with our own families. But mainly, I’m afraid of death. Not because I think it’ll be painful, but because it means I’d have to leave you behind.
I pack all my items into the car and prepare for the long journey. A new home, a place which we will make our own. No more disturbances, just us. I question if the country and quiet during these last few months will make me go insane but I guess feeling you move and kick inside is just a reminder that I’m never really alone and very soon the serenity of the entire town will be disturbed by your loud cries for food and I will begrudgingly, oblige to satiate your hunger with a bottle of milk.
‘My father is a great lacuna in my life’ (Paula, p19).
I’d catch the tram and then bus back home from university in that first year. I’d listen to indie music and rest from a day of lectures and socialising. I remembered nights of staying up until 1am just completing readings but somehow I found the energy. I guess I loved those classes and honestly, I loved my freedom. The freedom to do whatever I wanted.
The first challenging class in my Arts degree that I ever took was in Arabic. The notion of reading and writing backwards had me dumbfounded but I guess I was up for the task. I thought I’d perform badly but I think the hours of relistening to lectures on repeat served me well and I completed the class with a score over 70. That was the first time I felt I really could do anything I put my mind to