This is an expanded version of something I posted on Instagram/Facebook. It’s still playing on my mind, even after pondering it some more, so I wanted to post it here, too. Since this blog is part of my journal, it felt like it made sense to do so.
Someone once told me, I need to “read some of the “right” books, and to not believe everything I see in the movies.” This was in response to wanting to “own” a pet dragon. I had just changed my desktop to a scene from How To Train Your Dragon. Do I believe dragons really exist? I honestly don’t know. My imagination likes to run away with me. I quite like that. Does it mean I live in a dream world? Fuck no. I’m very grounded and am very aware of the things around me.
I have thought about this, a LOT, since I heard those words, a month ago. It has taken me this long to figure out why those words echoed in my head, and grated against me so much. If I were to curb my imagination, to read only books which were “acceptable by all”, what kind of incredibly dull and restricted world would I be living in? What kind of lifeless person would I be? The person who said those words isn’t an asshole. I know her well, I know where she’s been, I know where she’s coming from. But she got me thinking about the lives we lead, and how they affect our growth. And how one persons wonder and delight, can be another persons utter bullshit. That’s fair enough. We’re all different.
Christmas week has taken a lot of imagination to make it work for The Smalls. Their Christmas Eve Gift Box was awesome. Building up the imagination for Santa’s arrival was ace. Christmas Day treats and additional touches were so much fun. It was brilliant, and it felt magical for them, maybe even a little magical for me, too. The very day I curb this, the day I start being selective on what I read and watch, is the day I become one of the same old, “every day” people, one of millions, the very same as so many others, in the world.
This is “Toothless”, lead dragon from the book and film series “How to Train Your Dragon”. The Smalls have one each and this third one is my own. And he’s ace, and he’ll be awesome in fueling my fire for imagination and creativity. I wonder and and marvel over the imagination of children, and I’m often jealous at how creative they can be. I’m forever encouraging The Smalls to use their imagination while they play, because that’s how they grow and develop. It’s how they will become incredible human beings, with a sense of strength which few will match. It’s how they will know that, no matter what, they will always be able to find a way around the problems in life, because they will be the ones thinking outside of the box. They will be the ones with greater knowledge than others, because they didn’t restrict themselves in learning.
Because that’s how wonderful the mind can be.
This week, I told The Smalls, The News. I told them as best as I could (“Very soon, I won’t be living here any more, BUT you will still see me ALL THE TIME, and you can come and play round my house if you like, and I’ll still pick you up from school, and do your tea, and listen to you read, and do writing and dinosaurs and Doc McStuffins, and – Noah, it’s ok, there’s no need to cry, you’ll still SEE me, and I’ll still nag you to sort your stuff out, and tell you to pick up your toys! And I’ll still do French with you and stuff. Pardon Isaac? Yeah sure! Of COURSE there’s no need to cry, you get it, right? Sure you do. It’ll be fun! Yes, of COURSE you can bring Father Bear and your dinosaurs.”) and cried silently while Noah had a cuddle.
Because I have to be brave and strong for him, right?
I think, although the news sunk in immediately with Noah, he was pretty quick to understand that I’m not going far away. I’ve shown him houses I’ve been looking at online, ad have told him roughly where they are. He realises that I’m aiming to move, quite literally, up the road.
So…yeah. I’m moving out. And We have decided they will be registered as living with me. Originally, at the start of the week, they were to live here in their current home with The Mr.
And then I flipped my shit, because I realised that would pretty much make me feel like a nanny; pick them up from school, look after them until he returns, and then bugger off. Be their primary carer, without the title of primary carer. That didn’t sit well with me. So I had a minor rant, and verbalised with twitter a whole lot, and got some really fucking useful info. We can SHARE custody of The Smalls (I fucking hate the word “custody”, it feels taboo), and as long as it stays out of court (you bet your fucking ass it will stay out of court…) we can decide on shared custody in whatever way we please. I didn’t realise this before, though it makes me a lot happier now.
So, they will be living with me for the most part, though I guess they will do most nights in their current home.
I say that NOW, I have no idea how it will be once I’m out of this house.
SO THAT’S NICE.
I fucking hate being so goddamn lonely.
I think I was lonely all along, for aaaaaaages and ages, but deciding on separation kinda highlighted it. Which is pretty shit.
And then, loads of people are offering help and support (you really are fucking amazing, those of you who have offered or mentioned or whatever. Thank you). Which is lovely, but…I think because there’s SO MUCH going on, with a whole spectrum of family issues as well as Endings, I know I don’t yet feel there’s anyone I’m wholly comfortable with. I know that once I start talking, I probably won’t stop, and there’s just sooooooo so much built up.
So instead it comes out here. Into open posts, into photos, into private posts, onto twitter…it almost feels easier to spread the load, rather than try to talk to a small handful of people. I suppose it’s also weird because there are people whom I’m drawn to, to talk to, but can’t (for whatever reason). And then there are others so seemingly…desperate…maybe, to reach out. But I can’t let them near for whatever reason. The connections aren’t right, the vibes aren’t there, the words are wrong. It makes perfect sense to me.
In this last week, everything seems to be happening at a lightning speed, and yet I can’t get through this fast enough. Looking for somewhere to live, working out how I can support myself on practically minimum wage, wanting to get to the stage when crippling emotions finally start to lose their edge.
I’m that mom in the school playground, who hides in the corner not wanting to make eye contact, avoiding talking to people. The one you think is a stuck up asshole, too good to speak to others, but is in fact just trying to hold her shit together. Trying hard not burst into tears in the playground. Trying not to let others see her face because her eyes are puffy and horrible, and her face is already streaked with salt water tears.
I despise those moments, because they leave me exhausted, low, frustrated, angry – full of all the negatives. I won’t survive this if I’m full of negatives. I know there must be balance, I get that. But the scales are stupidly fucking tipped, and won’t stop wobbling.
I currently have no fear about where I’m going, or what I’m doing. I know it’s right, I know it’s meant to be. I’m ok with that. And I know that I haven’t got time to be afraid, because this is just the shit that I have to get on with. I’ve made my choices, including this bastarding path I’m on.
My feet hurt. I am tired. I’d like a Zimmer frame. I’m a fucking pussy, whining about shit all the time. Maybe I need a reality check. Maybe I need a break. Maybe I need to get royally shit-faced with friends and remember Life. Maybe I need someone to just stop, listen and hear me, genuinely.
Maybe I’ll just try to keep recharging, ready for the Next Shitty Thing.
I’m probably a snob. I don’t think I am, but I reckon some think I am. That’s fine, I honestly couldn’t give a shit. I mention it because I’m trying to see things from other perspectives.
Fact is, I am not a snob, but I totally have fucking high standards when it comes to The Smalls’ education.
We’ve endured our first Sports Day (Big Small; Little Small is later in the week) at their current school. It was a wee bit depressing; at one point Noah gave me a look of sheer boredom, and Isaac just wanted to go home. There was a lot of sitting around for Noah, and the things he was involved him I think, unfortunately, were a little too easy. Out and about, he’s more of a “push me and challenge me” kind of kid, rather than “breeze through this easy shit”. Which is awesome.
Probably didn’t help that we started 35 minutes late, and it’s possible one of the visiting kids stole his cap after it fell off his head, right before a race. Niiiiiiice.
Other things which bother me is the stuff which rubs off onto the kiddos. Habits which they bring home, and I try to stamp out. I know all kids will develop some behaviours, almost expected of them. I get that. However I get really frustrated when I find myself constantly correcting word pronunciation (ghetto. S’all I’m sayin’), and they’re rarely encouraged to use their manners (a teacher looked gobsmacked when Noah went up to them and said “good afternoon”).
I have exerted a lot of energy into making sure that these simple things happen ALL THE TIME. I want my boys to grow up to be respectable, well-rounded, appreciative, smart, polite men. I know most of this comes from what I teach them at home. But I have seen how they can be influenced from the outside world. It’s only natural. Some children less/more-so than others. I’ve seen how it works for my kiddos, and I want to change that. I will never be able to control all of their influences; fuck knows that’s not even something to consider because that’s just ridiculous.
But fuck knows I can put them in a place that will teach them better values. I can put them in a place where they will be around a variety of respectable walks of life. They can be in a place where they will see people they can aspire to. I can give them an environment rich with mentally stimulating things. I can put them somewhere which will make them ask questions, want to learn more, want to see more, want to do more. Where they want to explore, rather than just accept what they’re given. Where they are given so much juicy knowledge, that they literally cannot lap it up fast enough.
They don’t get that where they are now. It saddens me. I do what I can at home, but it feels like I’m fighting a losing battle. Like, there’s little support because I don’t have the knowledge to use whatever resources I (unknowingly) have.
So today, The Mr witnessed many of the things I whine to him about on a daily basis. I really don’t think he believed me all this time. Because the look on his face as soon as he arrived at the school, was all kinds of fucking hilarious. Poor guy. I hope he recovers.
It’s been a bit of a sore subject, I think, getting The Smalls back into private school, just because it’s so fucking expensive, he wants to pay off a ton of shit first, and I wasn’t quite at my work targets. I don’t think he ever understood my determination to succeed at work. I know many people jump into wedding photography with a view to making a fuck ton of money, and living a lavish life. That’s their dreamI. If I ever, EVER make it that far, I’ll be over the moon. I’ll also be surprised, because that’s not what I’m aiming for.
With every single
booking enquiry, I think to myself “one step closer for The Smalls”. Much of everything I do, relating to work, is done with The Smalls’ future in focus. I don’t care about driving a big fuck-off car. A bigger house would be nice, but ironically only so I could work more effectively (an actual office at home would help me when it comes to consultations and presentations), and therefore earn more money, to be spent on The Smalls education. I’ve set some fucking huge goals, but I think they’re achievable. Over the last few months, I’ve built up this weird kind of determination which I myself find almost alarming.
I haven’t seen this determination since I went through my darkest days in The Classical Music World. Setting my sights on something, and refusing to back down until I had gotten through whatever it was I needed to get through.
And so here it is again – my weird Determined Blazing Glory face. I don’t know how long it will last, and I seriously fucking hope I don’t trip up and start doubting myself. Because lord knows, I really cannot tolerate parents who do the school run, both morning and afternoon, in the same pair of pyjamas for three days running. Or swear loudly in front of the kids in the playground. Or completely ignore their kids on the way into school (kid usually lagging behind near the road). Or dealing with the high school kids who lurk on the pre-school premises, swearing loudly, hurling abuse at teachers and spitting on the floor because there are no members of staff around.
Determined Blazing Glory Face: Making Shit Happen since 1991.
I posted this over on my biz blog today, but realised I wanted it on my “home turf”. Partly because I rarely photograph The Smalls properly, partly because I miss being a kid playing out in the street, partly because I want more photos of The Smalls here, for the future.
And partly to take my mind off a ton of other crap. They do that quite well.
“It’s a long way back to Eden, Sweetheart, so don’t sweat the small stuff.”
– Stephen King, Insomnia
Today, The Smalls and I went to go and spend the day round my mom’s house, with my Granddad and Auntie Vie.
Ok, honestly, never even thought I would say those words, let alone type them for all eternity.
I packed a massive bag of food for The Smalls’ lunch and tea, threw all manner of chalk, scooters, bubble mixes, waving wand stick things and other stuff in the boot, and just about every instant film camera I own (with film ready to go) in my car. There was method. I wanted to spend the day and not have to worry about leaving early because I forgot something. I wanted to spend time.
I wanted to take time.
I was shitting it. I was fucking nervous as hell, because I was very aware of Granddad’s deterioration. I knew he wouldn’t be the dude I’d remembered so well from years gone by. I’d already seen how much he had changed in the last few times I had seen him. Both mentally and physically. When I saw him in 2006, he was still climbing trees and very on the ball. In 2008 he was kind of active and reasonably on the ball. In 2011 I didn’t actually see him move much, but he still seemed on the ball.
Today, in 2013, at my mom’s house, he was nearly immobile and, well, he knew who I was.
That was hard. That was soooooooooo hard.
The dude (yes, dude, because he is/was SUCH a dude) who was sharper than ME most of the time, and more physically active than I could remember, was not there.
Or, he was, but not all the time.
He is now using both my crutches, because his walking stick is not enough. He is in extreme pain moving anywhere. Doing anything.
I have to be realistic and understand, that, he is old. Dude is like, 87 years old EIGHTY SEVEN. He’s nearly seen a WHOLE CENTURY, wtf. Can you imagine carting around nearly 100 years worth of memories? I can’t.
He struggled to remember that, where he was today, was actually Birmingham and not London (where he spent the majority of his last years in the UK). Actually…looking back on today…that’s nothing. Ok, he kept thinking Noah was in fact called Moses (I bloody love that idea), and didn’t realised for a long time that he had never met Isaac (c’mon; they’re his GREAT GRAND KIDS. That’s a lot of descendants to remember) but…he remembered me without question, he remembered that these boys were his great grandchildren, he remembered I played cello, he remembered random things. So many random things.
I have to remember that.
I didn’t like that he looked so old and frail. Actually, I just didn’t like that he looked so frail. He was wearing a shirt, shorts and a pair of socks, and I couldn’t stop thinking of PUSA’s song Old Man on a Back Porch. It was weird, but he was oddly alert at really random moments, but his body seemed to be letting him down.
And the odd moment of old age seemed to be letting him down too.
I am tired, and I know that if I ever read this post, it probably won’t make much sense to me. However. Over the last few weeks I’ve been going mental with polaroid film, and I know a ton of people have been telling me to cut the crazy shit out. “Ohhhhh hahah Jay bought yet another camera and more bloody film geeeze Jay time to calm that shit down eh? Hahahahha” NO. No it is not, it is NOT time to calm that shit down.
There’s been method to my madness. There is always method to madness.
I learnt this from my Granddad, if no one else.
See, despite being in denial of Granddad even arriving in this country, I understand the importance of certain things. So, several months of learning to accurately use a polaroid camera have paid off. I shut my mind down to the idea of ever having Granddad around me, or The Smalls. But with this one last chance, I knew I had to make something of it. I know I won’t get stuff printed; I never seem to validate the time to do so, or even FIND the time to select the digital files. But, to be able to take a photo of The Smalls, and be able to give it to Granddad straight away, just seemed logical. It seemed like, given his ever dwindling memory, the one way which might help Granddad remember who is who. Who was who doing what. It’s too easy to forget. SO easy.
Bah. My mind is a mess of all kinds of stuff, and I’m in no state to process anything else. After Corinne’s woodland wedding on Saturday, and the realisation that it’s Isaac’s birthday on Sunday, and trying to remember everything in between…well, I don’t think anything makes sense right now.
BUT, I know THIS. I know the importance of completing my memories. I know how important it is that I capture what I can while Granddad is with us. I know that. Amongst the madness in his mind, there is method. I see it. Probably because I do it myself. And I wanted him to see this normality. I wanted him to be able to go back to Jamaica with a head full of madness but with a sense of normality.
I would never get round to printing anything I take on the dSLR, because I know what I’m like. The perfectionist in me would never send off images to be printed without first being edited, and checked again, and then edited some more…just because that’s what I’m now trained to do. And yet, annoyingly, I would never find time to edit the stuff to send it to be printed. So I took control in a different way; screw the editing, take instant prints. I would hate 3/4 photos, and even worse, many wouldn’t even be valid photos. BUT, I knew it would mean that I could guarantee, somehow, that Granddad would have something to take away, something to remember.
The hardest thing about today was the realisation that, with madness there is method. With method, there is often madness. Granddad seems to consist of both. He grasps the reality of his surroundings, by using method. But this method often makes him sound mad. Thing is, that’s not the stuff I should be worrying about with him. What I should be worrying about is whether I’ve given him enough to tick him over until The End.
So I took the photos. I took many polaroid photos, on various formats. Photos of The Smalls in my mom’s garden, photos of my granddad giving my son his first birthday card celebrating his 4th birthday (he’s the only child in my family to have a birthday card from a great grandparent), photos of The Smalls with their Nanan; the sort of things I want them to be able to look back on many years down the line.
I’ve looked at enough printed photos, and pine for my own. I have masses of files on machines, some barely viewed for a total time of 1 minute. I wanted my polaroids to be spot on, because I knew this would be my last chance. Granddad, though in the UK for another 5 weeks, will not be back. This feels like my last chance to give him something back. This feels like my last chance to thank him for my AMAZING memories, by nourishing the last of his diminishing memories. He’s alert, but not as I remember. He knows what’s what, but it takes effort.
Even though it’s a long way back to Eden, even though the Small stuff might not seem like much to some, even though there are sometimes bigger things in life to consider…well. Sometimes, the small stuff is bigger than anything, and needs to be sweated over.
Sometimes, perspective, method and madness is all it takes to know what you should be sweating over.
There’s a lot of method and madness in my head right now. I want it to pass. But not too soon.
Not too soon.