Today was beautiful. It is the day after my birthday. I wasn’t teaching as I do that on the weekends at the moment. The sun was out, I accidentally ended up strolling down the canal, had a coffee at a small hut by a lock and watched the water pass on by. I thought about how much happier I am now to how I was this time last year, how stressed and anxious I was in that flat in Hammersmith. I think it was the traffic that did it, six lanes of traffic going past my door. It made me ill psychologically and physically. I don’t think I can quite blame it for the cyst on my ovary, but the general poor immune system it caused didn’t help.
Every day I walked out of my door I cursed the traffic. I dreamt of them all crashing hideously into each other, imagined how I could blow them up. I’d walk down the street cursing them under my breath. There was black dirt under my nails all the time, I’m sure my skin was grey, if it was raining the traffic would race though puddles splashing pedestrians with black water so that my coat had a permanent grime to it no matter how often it was cleaned. The traffic haunted me, its sound spilled over the flat despite the heavily reinforced windows, it would appear in my sleep in the early mornings as I started to become conscious. I would sometimes sit on my sofa in the front room and watch the traffic jam outside, wishing death on every single person who sat behind a wheel on that road. I was a real life troll in the basement. The smell of engine fumes tainted everything.
The council had offered me the place seven years ago. I’d moved in because it was cheap, big, had a garden and my previous drunken neighbour had been threatening to throw me out of the window. I thought I would get used to the traffic, some people can, I didn’t. If anything I grew to hate it more each time I walked down the street. It put a bitterness to everything. As soon as I could I joined the the council housing swap site, but this proved to be futile, full of daydreamers who like snooping around other peoples homes.
An article in the local paper warned visitors to the area to avoid walking down Talgarth road, especially asthma sufferers or those with health problems. Nothing was mentioned about the residents.
The men I dated became my dream of an escape route. I would move in to his big house in Clapton/help him decorate his flat in Finchley/buy a narrow boat with him on the canal/escape with him to Hastings. All these failed of course, how could they not, a lover is not an escape route. When the last of those dreams collapsed I got very depressed. The pain in my abdomen from the ovarian cyst made things worse.
The old alien in the brain, with its propensity to cause hallucinations means depression in me can become paranoia. Friends were plotting against me, I was trapped, I couldn’t breath properly, they were poisoning my air. I managed to keep it under some control, age helps you learn how to deal with these things better, I managed to hide this from those close to me but it spilt out occasionally. I remember being horrible to friends, getting angry with my band, shouting at a friend who had organised a gig for us, and for all this I am very ashamed.
Rude Mechanicals, my band, have a song called Flying Lessons. It is about how I have captured an angel and am tearing off his wings for myself and learning to fly. It is a song about the desire to escape. I wrote it a long time ago. It seems I have spent a lot of my life in situations I don’t like but relying on others to get me out. I think now I am learning how to escape on my own.
In the end I had an operation to remove the ovarian cyst, which got rid of the pain. Wow, sometimes one forgets what not being in pain is like!
The lovely Mr Hastings left me for the east end of London. I gave the home swap one more determined effort and prayed to the gods. It worked! I have escaped Talgarth Road!
The bundle of hatred and anxiety I was is unravelling itself and for now at least I am the happiest I have been in a very long time with no need to escape.
Happy birthday to me