Day 64

Written 21 May, 2020




A bad day. Cloudy, and the solar power crashed, so the generator roared.  GG with his one good arm dragged the generator around to the tool shed in the hope it’d be quieter, but it still roared. I spent 2 hours on an email for a zoom meeting with ANU, but the internet crashed and it didn’t get through. The internet refused to come good, so  I t read it aloud on the phone, but i don’t think anyone heard.

Not the most successful meeting.

At least i raked the beach again. And worked for a couple of hours on my chapter, but badly. And the editor of the book rang late afternoon to tell me that the reviewer of my chapter is to be my hero who’s one of the world’s best neuroscientists. I’m not sure if that’s good news, or bad. How I wish I had a better brain.

The temperature’s dropping at night to 11 degrees, and the little upper house where we’ve all squashed into, rather than try to heat two places, shivers between the mists rising from the water and the mists rolling down the cliffs. Still our curtains from Ikea, 5 weeks after my order, haven’t come. My last act of the day before dinner and my online tango class – it’s GG’s turn to cook – is to ring Ikea to ask where they are.A woman’s voice tells me they didn’t have them in  stock, so no delivery.

Why didn’t you email me? 

Her only answer is that they’re in stock now and Ikea can deliver them.

But you should’ve emailed me.

We can get them to you by June 6.

But how could I know you will, after this?

She only answers that if I don’t want them delivered, I can have my money back.

Within 2-5 days.

This is terrible service.

She tells me I can complain online.

I try to rouse myself to sound angry. But there’s no anger inside me. I could shout at her, but I”m not a shouter, and she’s probably a single mum trying, in a tiny apartment,  to homeschool her kids, who shout at her, She’s probably taking work calls from the only quiet place in her house, the toilet. K tells me that on Facebook, desperate parents swap stories about their kids at home calling them “the drunk at the end of the bar”: so “The drunk at the end of the bar is chasing the cat around in circles” “The drunk at the end of the bar has pooped in the garden.” “the drunk at the end of the bar told me at 5 am that my mouth smells.”

There’s no apology in her voice, but no arrogance either. We’re both weary. I manage to say that the curtains weren’t for prettiness, but warmth. Our house is very cold.

She becomes less formal, breaks away from her script You can come to the store and buy them. They’re now in stock. Click and collect- why don’t you do that?

I sigh, ponder. Just give me my money back.

Within 2-5 days.

I’m glad of my tango class, the music that makes poetry of despair. I do it in K’s bedroom because it’s out of the way and we never furnished it much in the old days, when this was just a adventurous holiday shack. Most of her clothes are in her suitcases, or in one of those raffia stands people put flower pots in. The straw’s unravelling on its legs.  Jumpers and track suit trousers poke out of its top, like teddy bears. As a barre, I use a ruined old oak sideboard that long ago I  painted a bright sea blue, the blue the river never is.  The previous owner had stapled it with black leather, so it looked rather like a padded bar in a nightclub, a fantasy in this wilderness that had a touch of pathos to it. Uma faces the wall so we can copy him. He’d like to see what we’re doing, but he can’t watch and demonstrate  at the same time. I gaze at his legs and feet and will my legs and feet to mirror his exactly, that small rise of the heel, not too high for it’s a dance of the earth, not the air,  that angle of the knee pointing not outwards but towards the floor, that slow slide of the side of the foot across the never-ending length of that slow, sad dissonant chord.

Afterwards, I sit on K’s bed – she always makes it so neatly – and the three of us have a virtual drink, him in his parents’ lounge room, G in his lounge room in Kings Cross,  and talk about whether there’ll be a second wave- I’m sure there will be, and G is sure there won’t be – and how long it’ll be before we can embrace as the dance demands.  Ever? I laugh and say only if Trump’s right, and hydroxycholoquinine is the answer.  Or the vaccine. I’ll never be able to have the vaccine.

When we finish, K’s in the bathroom, brushing her teeth with Radio National chattering to her, and GG snores in bed. My dinner’s cold and I don’t have the interest to warm it up. I’ll tell them about the curtains tomorrow, how we’ll have to go to Ikea to click and collect them, cloaked in masks and plastic gloves.

All night it rains, rain in long cold bitter swoops that lash our little house, but at least the tanks sing.



One Response to Day 64

  1. Those monstrous rainclouds give pathetic fallacy a new meaning. It’s turning colder and darker here, everywhere, I think, even in New York as the season warms and imbeciles flood the parks.

    I woke up at 3am this morning, adrenaline pumping through my body, my heart racing, another nightmare. I rationalised my thoughts after an hour or so, the laundry door kept creaking, kept pulling me back into the horror of my dream. I thought about calling B, but my phone hardly functions as a phone anymore. And B is working on the front lines, B needs sleep more than I do. No new phones in stock around here. Nothing available. Just when I need it most. I recovered from my dream, and then in the early hours I was was hit by another wave of sadness.

    ‘I’m not being a good enough sister to J’

    J, my brother in New York, in the heart of the virus. J didn’t read Harry Potter yesterday to his online audience because E isn’t coping well and was busy caring for her. I think he’s losing interest in his readings, numbers are dwindling, and most days it’s just me, Mum and C who watch him read, watch him put up a brave and ‘normal’ front.

    I just tried to call him, just now, to apologise for being a bad sister, to tell him that I love him. To tell him that I’m sorry that he’s losing this time in his life, that we’re all losing this time in our lives. But I can’t be reassuring, I can’t be helpful, I can’t offer him much. I can only be there. I can be here, and he can be there. On the other side of the world in a cold little beach town. J didn’t answer.

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