This has absolutely no bearing on today’s blog; I just liked it.
“It is customary in the higher echelons of the British Diplomatic Service never to knock on the door before entering a room, lest by doing so one implies one suspects a colleague is doing something improper within.”
It was raining that afternoon, it had been a muggy sort of day and the curtains were drawn. My former husband was making a sign for the tea stall at some or other fund raising do for one of our “causes”. By no means a small sign, it was a large piece of ply board that had a white undercoat and on to which he layered images using acrylic paints and varied pieces of material. He was/is after all, an artist and this was not an ordinary sign, it was directional yes, but it told its own story. I gave no advice but watched as it all unfolded before my eyes, how did he think up of these things? Had he wished, he could probably have sold it but in all the time we were together he never through choice sold any of his work.
To many we were the ideal couple, he, an artist and intellectual and I, a writer and producer of documentaries. We seemed to connect on so many levels; we both liked good food, the movies, going to the beach every weekend. The house was covered in books, pieces of art, an endless array of photographic equipment gathering dust and of course, the ever present hiss of the expresso machine. We seemed free spirits without the leaden weight of conventional living; even our house at the time a testament to our creative spirits. True it was no fun to balance on catwalks with large baskets of laundry knowing that you had a twelve foot plunge to the terrazzo floor beneath, but still, it gave one a feeling of adventure, especially when returning from a night out on the town, many Carib’s later.
And yet, it didn’t work in the end. Whether it is is that you cannot have two creative people in the same space lest they explode or that we just grew apart after thirteen years of togetherness, or all those things and more, we could not stay together. We wanted different things and started to find living together cloying, almost claustrophobic, well at least one party. The other was happy to go along changing nothing as long as they were in control. I’ll leave you to guess which was which. The cracks appeared under the surface until we could no longer hold it together. Though we seemed not to have any acrimony I think for a while there we might have hated each other a bit. My former husband, the stoic, “I don’t let emotions rule me, you are a flake etc” showed his human-ness for the first time, but by then it was too late. There was no finding our way back. Our friends took it pretty hard too, all of a sudden we were outside of our box and they didn’t like it.
The years have mellowed us both, he’s got a whole new life with someone else and I have the hound and incursions by the ex-man. And yet, there is still that queer restlessness that fills my soul, the burning urge to create something, a piece of art, a new essay, something and then tell him about it. And in all these years I still recall how magical it was when he did work. On the rare occasions that he let me be a spectator it was a real pleasure to watch his mind at work. He challenged me to think, to do, to be. And though he may have wished in the end that maybe he hadn’t in a way, we both lived and learnt. He used to complain that I worked all the time, that got in the way a lot. But how could I not, the creative part of the work is what has kept me going, always. The same way when he needed to create he locked everybody out and refused to talk about it.
My former husband gave me an appreciation for many things, he taught me to understand how be true to myself without apologizing for being different. He’s about as different as you get! I miss the early Sunday morning breakfasts, mounds of eggs, black pudding or sausages, he was a marvelous cook. The San Fernando runs for Mrs Attong’s roast pork, just because, the round of art exhibitions or liming with artist friends talking for hours about the work. He also at times drove me crazy, rebelling against the controlling. Now I understand that despite all his talk and seeming confidence, his artistic work was always his bête noire. His coldness a defense against being hurt; his almost Spock-like denial of emotion a sign of his own insecurities and me, always his wild card, his admiration of my determination to be whatever I carved out for myself, a secret wish for himself. There is a part of me that will always love and admire him, he was my first great passion, but certainly not my last.
And finally, the ghosts are expunged and the creative life, trickling back, that part of me exorcised to make bearable giving up everything that was familiar slowly growing again. Understanding that regardless of how I try, I will never be free and must find my freedom within this.