Day 21: Things I Must Have Written But Can’t Remember and Won’t ReRead.

I am bubbling over with things I want to tell you – I keep writing them down on scraps of paper and in my phone notes. These diaries are transforming me into a poor parody of Jo March from Little Women – dashing through the house to reach some form of pressed parchment and record some inanity; scribbling intensely in idle minutes between sibling-chat or during the kerfuffle of a work Zoom call where my presence is not only redundant but actually intrusive. I can hardly jog ten seconds without being hit by some urgent profundity requiring me to crawl into a ditch and frantically record it – I have become inured to the sound of my running app telling me, in its nasal drawl, that it is “pausing my workout” while I stand, absent-mindedly waving to passing vehicles while I furiously berate a phone screen unreadable with sweat and sunlight. Except of course, even with these Angelus-pauses throughout my day where I drop everything to transcribe the sensation of living, I never can quite capture them.

On every walk, I become convinced with every step that I have solved it (I never know what ‘it’ is – life? my final idea for a novel? this global pandemic? the tension between family members? soggy broccoli?) I work out every kink, every delicious detail in the kind of prose I barely dare to dream of writing until I am high on the ecstasy of eventual enlightenment and float home filled with such conviction, such purpose that surely is impervious, iron-clad until it makes contact with the door handle and then it dissipates, like Cinderella’s whimsical ball gown, or the Impulse sprays that were all the rage in secondary school and my mother would never let me buy. Perhaps if I’m lucky I can hold onto ‘it’ as far as my bedroom but then the sounds of home invade – the dog headbutts me for attention, I’m greeted with at least one ‘where did you go?’, Drivetime is loud through my floorboards and the beautiful, Pulitzer-winning illusion is shattered. It is like trying to relay a dream – the more you try to weigh it down, to colour it into being with words and description, the more it eludes, taunts, escapes you.

And so, after all this strenuous toil, I fail to ever tell you things I want to. Like that I am eating marmalade now, a confession I find harder to admit than the revelation of my chairing of the itty-bitty-titty-committee back in entry fifteen. This new discerning taste for Bonne Maman’s bitter orange – to me the evocation of everything old, musty, and Ecco-sandaled in this world – seems important to note. Why, I don’t know. I like details like that.

Or the fact I got sunstroke – as my sister did – after sunbathing two Saturdays ago (again, if you read Day 15, it’s really not all that surprising) and still have the crinkled rememberance taddle-taling on my forehead.

Or that I attempted to use that heatwave to replicate the Bikram yoga classes my notions and the first-timer discounted rates of Dublin studios had herded me into falling deeply in love with. I listened to a voice recording of the OG Bikram guru dude – clearly I’m not au fait with the Bikram origins and no, I haven’t seen the Netflix documentary because I’m too normally too busy drinking and now too busy puzzling to watch TV – to coach myself through the class. The experience was such that I wanted to recreate it for you – the whole invasive, degrading, positively thrilling ’50 shades of Grey’ vibe of it. His chiding, shouting, sardonic ‘excuse mes’, omniscient awareness of the misalignment of my limbs, ankles, chin and the overall intensely personal and slightly flagellating experience of it that we all somehow seem to crave so much. Why is it we are drawn to people who are mean to us?

After Bikram being the devil in my ear for 90 minutes; after him explicitly telling me and everyone else in that class all the ways my body was wrong – perfectly, laughably wrong! – after unsympathetically ordering me to continue contorting into varying deformations when I knew my body couldn’t, I found myself, in Shavasana (can we all take a quiet minute for Shavasana, please), silently thanking him, blessing him, pouring out all the gratitude in my heart to him and essentially confessing undying and boundless love for him. I wanted to ask you why it is we are attracted to the people who criticise us, ridicule us or demean us under the guise of constructive philanthropism, the hallowed veil of “I’m doing this for you”? Why does their opinion mean more? Like my actual Bikram yoga teacher in Dublin who would answer my attempts at friendly repartee with a cut-throat monosyllable and who, after a month of solid, thrice – sometimes even quadruple! – weekly attendance, had the audacity to look at me blankly and ask my name when I showed up after a ten day absence. Yet who, as I sweat and grimaced my way to gracefulness, had the potential to make or break my day with a kind word of encouragement or quip of improvement. One comment from her would have me lifting my chin with almost tearful pride; one critique and I was the simpering schoolgirl, quite literally falling over myself to earn her commendation – WHAT IS THIS MANIA? I won’t tell you about the day we had a whole, almost willing interaction that SHE INITIATED – I may have floated home on a cloud of exhilaration, perhaps, it’s possible, totally over it now.

And now Bikram, nestling my ear lobes with soft words of praise: why did I, lying on the grass in a small town in West Cork, years and miles away from that voice coming through my face-planted phone, still want that voice to like me? No, not like me, but be proud of me, compliment me, pat me on the forehead and make me feel special. Maybe I have daddy issues.

Or that I’ve started sea swimming – and skinny-dipping – again and the snapped coldness of the water reminds me of the time I went out to Killiney with a guy as our second date and went jumping off the pier but, having just recovered from pneumonia, nearly collapsed in the water and had to swim off on my own “to take in the view” but really was just hyperventilating. I want to tell you that story.

And so it goes. On and on all of the things I’m desperate to say because, now that covid has reached my small town I naively assumed would always be safe and people are dying, I am not really joking when I say I am imitating Anne Frank. Are these journals a means of passing the time, of seeing what happens when I stop giving a shit about who is reading or if you’re reading or what I’m saying? Absolutely. Are they my narcissistic attempt at accountability, to get myself to stick with something so years from now when I’m somewhere between Anne Enright, Sally Rooney, and Eimear McBride in my literary prowess, I have ample fodder to draw on when writing my memoir “Love in the Time of Covid”? Hell fricking yes. But am I also gripped with the desire to cement my own existence through the written word; to record and imprint myself onto something so that I exist beyond this body, this flesh that can so easily be destroyed and thus ensure some small part of me will be immortal? Quiet, embarrassed yes.

I want it on record what my house smelt like, I want it written somewhere just how much I love jigsaws and listening to The National and peanut butter-stuffed dates. I want people to know that my parents are the kind of humans who leave the radio on all day so my dog won’t get lonely and that my mum will send 8 minute videos of my sister brushing the moulting coat of that same spoiled dog into our family WhatsApp even though only one sibling is absent from home. And we will only pretend to mind.

I want it known that I eat a lot of cake but am addicted to exercise, that I often cry for no apparent reason and enjoy nothing more than a belly laugh – preferably with an Aperol spritz or a pint (but settling for cans) of Guinness in hand. That music – often terribly random – has brought more joy than words to describe it – that I would live forever in a book if possible. That I am incurably in search of love and mistakenly considered a sex pest and deviant by siblings. This and more and more and more I want to be known.

And so I continue to trip my hours up in some irrelevant tangent until I am once again transfixed in the finishing of yet another jigsaw; or I am cooing over the cat that shouldn’t still be the novelty it is, or walking the roads because I cannot seem to stop or I am thinking about – and sometimes even completing – one of the thousand projects I have begun in lockdown. Because how can one possibly record, while simultaneously living, their remarkably unremarkable existence? How can one experience and then still find leftover energy and time to relive that experience in a sixteen-hour day? It is a full-time occupation, this living, and I am only a part-time writer. Confined to the hedgerows, notebook margins, and discarded shopping lists.

Tree Tings

Am desperate to get out into the sunshine because it is Friday and 17:57 and my Fitbit is telling me I’ve 186 steps to take to reach my hourly target and I am a slave to anything vaguely competitive so can I cheat and just say sunshine, sunshine, SUNSHINE?

Of course, I can cheat, it’s my bloody blog!

Happy Friday, I hope it’s filled with not Tree but MANY things to bring you joy and hope xxx

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