Monday, November 1, 2010

The Forecast

"But there are no hats no scarves for the heart,
just the cold wind that leaves its frosted mark..."
Martha Wainwright – Don’t Forget

The weather forecast appeared as five little square illustrations at the bottom of the screen when she opened her computer. Her habit was to briefly view the forecast before navigating her way through the web of information contained within and channelled through the machine, before starting any work, reviewing any mail, or perusing any articles, blogs, pictures, gossip.

Rain, they said. All five of them. Five little identical squares. Each had a dark indigo background overlaid with a neat arrangement of grey and white clouds, below these the unmistakable linear pattern of rain dots. No yellow circle in any of them, not even a yellow crescent peeking out from behind a cloud shadow. No hint of sun in any of them. Five squares of stormy weather. Stormy days ahead.

She pulled a tiny slip of mucosa from the corner of her mouth between her teeth and bit through it. It would not be an easy week.

Five days without sunshine.

I will pretend it doesn’t matter she said to herself. Because it doesn’t really, does it?

Patience! They said. To heal takes time.

Yes exactly, she said, these things TAKE time. These things TAKE time AWAY from me.

If my life is a piece of string measured in length by time, she said, then these things taking time are just fraying away at the string. And all this sitting and frittering and waiting and whiling away time is turning me slowly insane. Each tick of the clock a step close to the time she could feel normal, but each moment that passed was one that she could never get back. A treacherous tightrope. Waiting and wasting and hoping to heal, and hating the wasting and trying not to lose hope.

So it would be a hard week this week – if those little square boxes were right – hard, because rainy weather made her seasick and lonely. And she was already on the edge of a dark and swilling sea.

If only there were little boxes for her heart. Well it isn’t your heart is it? She thought. It’s your brain that feels all these things. But sometimes the ache seemed so thick inside her chest she questioned the accuracy of science in its understanding of the way humans experience emotion. Perhaps, she thought, there are undiscovered receptors of emotional pain within the pericardium which send signals to the cerebral cortex. Wherever the pain came from, the point is, she thought, wouldn’t it be useful to have a forecast for the week ahead. You might be feeling black and downtrodden and under a bag of cement on Tuesday, but hey look at Thursday, a sudden joy front might bring unseasonal contentedness with warm breezy happiness. By Friday there may be some low mood cover with some afternoon depression, but that would be clearing by Saturday with more joy to last throughout the weekend.

But is it really any use to know? What raincoat, what umbrella could you use for your heart (or whatever it was that stored and created your emotions)?

Do other people get so bogged down with it all, she wondered?

And what are we all actually DOing anyway? We get up. We go to work. We exercise. We eat. We talk. We wait. We fill our lives with things to do to try to make ourselves feel like our lives are actually worth something. It’s all so fucking monotonous all this fucking waiting.

What do other people do while they wait?! She wondered. Are they happy that this is it: This house, this job, this town, this meal, this hour of waiting in the rain?

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