I’ve been thinking about the ‘intimate other’ that you build a relationship with when writing regularly in notebooks, as one frequently does if one is a writing person, even if one has no clear idea about the what or the why of putting down words on paper. Sometimes I imagine my intimate other as a ghostly version of me, but at other times it is I who am the ghost and she is the one imagining me, living the life.
Increasingly, I have become aware of this brooding presence at other times also – alongside me as I crank up each morning, trying to earth myself into my physical body, make a cup of coffee, filling the metal espresso-maker just level with black grounds, slice open a Kiwi fruit, eat a thin oat and apple biscuit; with me as I put my foot down hard on the accelerator on the road to Brighton, trying to get to my Shrink early enough to have five minutes before it’s time to ring the bell, in the car, underneath the huge oak tree where the brown bird hops on the grass and looks at me with one keen eye (it is my bird now, I’ve seen it three times, my tree also, I park under its shade); close by me when I walk into the large, white room where the chairs are always, but never quite, in the same position and I say, It’s like a stage set, the sense that invisible hands have been in between this time and the last and moved the furniture slightly, and he says, yes, the stage is set, and then there is silence. Sometimes I picture her crawling underneath the sofa with the Moroccan scatter cushions and looking at me and him in the white armchairs. Or we switch and it’s me there, and she is the one in the big chair talking or banging the arm of the chair and pulling at her hair while I sit waiting for her to finish whatever it is she has to do so we can go on to the next place, the next activity, which may be to go home and sleep and sleep, or it may be to take the white pills that put two hours of bliss into her muscles so they don’t hurt and then she can walk around a supermarket, buy meat and vegetables, shave the peel from a carrot and finely chop herbs; and she listens out for where I might be, her intimate other who says nothing at all, is quiet as the small brown bird who stands on a thin leg and watches. I am afraid, she says, that I do not have much time left. And then, I feel hopeful
(you are hoping, he says, against hope).
I can, she says, still salvage something. She is saying these things for my benefit, but really I don’t mind the life that we already live. It feels like a life to me; but then, I was never born and living with the fact of death as she is, as one is.
Unless you are The Doctor. Sorry to change tack so suddenly, but I have just resumed this post having watched today’s episode. Is this synchronicity, or what? The Doctor is dying, but even in the throes of death he is regenerating. I think he and I have a lot in common. I’m sorry, but I really do. And so does my intimate other who, at this particular moment, is keeping remarkably quiet.