Monday, July 11, 2011

summer

Remembering another summer, much hotter than this. Outside it was nearly a hundred degrees in the shade. I was an office Temp, in the coolness of a dark office, with filing cabinets and electric typewriters that went clackety clack. The office was near Hyde Park. In my lunch hour I ate salmon and cucumber sandwiches there. My dress was blue with white polka dots and there was a bow at the front, by the breast. It was short and showed off my tanned legs. I had a husband I was soon to be separated from. We were twenty-two and decided to go our own ways, live apart for a while. People said, if you do that you'll never get back together again, but still we decided to do it. We'll go on seeing each other, we said.

Heat wave nights, lying under a polyester sheet, talking about who would have the coffee cups, the tea set, the Joni Mitchell records, and what to do with the wedding presents left on ice for the house that we would never buy. We still reached for each other and I woke in the night with a shock, felt him next to me and was relieved: not apart yet. What do you know at twenty-two about the bonds between people who love, have loved each other?

July was our last month living together. We went to parties, danced until three in the morning, joked that we would have a splitting up party and drink champagne. At one party, a group of gatecrashers stormed through the house. The girls who lived there asked my husband to help get the gatecrashers out. They were drunk and belligerent, one of them punched him and he folded up onto a floor-cushion, winded. I fell to my knees beside him and screamed. Stop screaming, said someone, they've gone now, but I had to put my hand over my mouth to stop.

I don't remember how we said goodbye or when it became autumn and winter. We were together in the first days of August, dividing up the things we had, watching Old Grey Whistle Test at night, eating chocolate biscuits in bed in the morning - then we were in different places and everything became cold and quiet. I went to his rented room in south London, we made love on his single bed; in the morning he said, I feel fragmented.

I got a chest infection, then asthma, went away to recuperate, wrote him a letter saying, I love you and I think of you, please come. The letter never arrived. he had no telephone. I waited for him. He waited for me. The moments came and passed and were gone.

Now I think that you can't marry someone and still love them and then split apart, and I can't remember how we did that. When you are twenty-two you think you can do everything. We waited for each other but he didn't get a letter, and he didn't come to me.

Then we met other people.

11 comments:

Cusp said...

This is so evocative, poignant...I can see all the images in the story, smell the smells, hear the sounds.....

summer of 76 ?

Wendy said...

so sad, Signs, and so lovely.
x

Zhoen said...

Youth is an alien state of mind.

belinda whitworth said...

So sad

belinda whitworth said...

but wonderful writing as ever

Reading the Signs said...

Thank you all :)

Mim said...

O, your young self . . .

Anonymous said...

wonderful writing - and seems to be born out of suffering. That aside - i completely love your writing. I know I've said this before but it brings me to myself in a way no other writing does. It is evocative, candid, and just basically good. More than good - fecking amazing.
I am in Edinburgh - lovely Edinburgh - in my new and lovely flat - it is like an oasis in the middle of the city - with a large garden!!! Walled with trees all round and on the other side a river so I could be in the countryside - except two minutes walk away is the best cappucino and a variety of funky cafes such as countryside struggles to provide.
thinking of you - much love xxx

Reading the Signs said...

Mim, I know -

Anonymous - is that you, Poet? Someone else has also just moved to lovely Edinburgh. But she wouldn't say fecking or be so extravagant with the exclamation marks.

When I'm not so fecking laid up I'll come and sit in one of the funky cafes with you.

trousers said...

Wow. Stunned reading this.

Reading the Signs said...

Trousers :)