Tag Archives: Love

Intimate images: after the love has gone

24 Oct

So, won’t you let me see, /I said, won’t you let me see, /I said, won’t you let me see/ your naked body?

 

The Victorian Parliament has introduced draft legislation that makes distribution or the threat of distribution of intimate images online without consent a criminal offence. There is, it appears, a burgeoning of “Revenge Porn” sites where aggrieved and bitter ex lovers can post photos taken in happier times of their partner’s private bits, often selfies taken by that partner. Anecdotal evidence has it that perpetrators of revenge porn are mostly male, however, it is not unknown for wives or girlfriends to post sexually explicit photos of their former partner’s new lover online, if they’ve managed to get hold of them.

Common advice as to how to avoid having your lady bits made available to the public gaze without your consent includes never taking or allowing photos of them to be taken in the first place. This is tantamount to advising us to avoid rape by staying inside unless we’re accompanied by bodyguards – the fault lies not with those of us who’ve given lovers intimate images, but with the lovers or their associates who distribute them without our consent. This ought to be self-evident, after all, who is ever advised never to leave home if their house is burgled, but because it involves sex and female bodies, responsibility defaults to women to protect ourselves by crippling our lives.

As a woman who has (for the first time in her life and at an age where one would not expect to do such things) taken intimate photos of herself and given them to a lover, I feel a certain interest in this topic. When my lover first asked for photos I inwardly baulked. I was a long way from my twenties, I had never before even thought of engaging in such an act. The most I had seen of my own bits was when, like many other young feminists, I squatted over a mirror and had a good look, then later when my sister crouched between my legs with her camera and recorded in astonishing detail the birth of my second child. As a delaying tactic, I asked him what he actually wanted to see. You know, he replied. Not your toes.

I wrestled with this. Deeply in love, I didn’t want to refuse. I feared my reluctance was to do with sexual inhibition that I would do well to overcome, and much of our relationship was about both of us testing sexual boundaries, creating a list of what he called our “firsts.” I love him, I reasoned, so I can do this for him. I began with my breasts. I was pleased with the result, and so was he. We added this to our list of firsts. We moved on to even more intimate bits and I began to enjoy myself, it was exciting, it was fun, it brought us very close to each other, and so I wouldn’t feel alone in the venture and in good faith, he sent me pictures of his bits as well. I loved them because I loved him, but truthfully, a bloke’s bits don’t come near a woman’s for beauty and complexity.

Never in my wildest imaginings did I consider I might one day regret all this.

But I do. The relationship came to an emotionally devastating end. For the last few months I’ve fretted and churned about those pictures that I no longer want him to be able to look at. Several times I’ve contacted him by email, snail mail, and phone messages, asking that he let me know he has deleted the photos and that I don’t have to worry about them anymore. He has not responded to any of my requests. I’m not quite sure what to make of this. Is he exercising vengeful power over me, by refusing to tell me what has become of my intimate photos? Is he determined to keep them, and rather than lie to me has decided to say nothing at all? While I cannot bring myself to believe he would misuse the photos, I don’t know that others with access to his computer would be as discreet, and besides, I don’t want anyone else even looking at them, as they shouldn’t without my consent.

The reality is, once I sent those images to him I relinquished any control over their fate. Sent in deep love and absolute trust, a powerfully bonding “first,” I now no longer have any idea who will see them and in what circumstances, and my former lover seems to want me to live with that distress.

Although I regret engaging in this “first” with someone who was obviously entirely the wrong person to trust, I don’t regret overcoming my inhibition. I don’t regret the deeper acquaintance with my body, though I wish I’d shared that discovery with someone who was trustable. I’m beside myself with rage and hurt at his refusal to reassure me as to the fate of the photos, and at my powerlessness to do anything about this. It is indeed a foul betrayal, and I can only imagine how much worse it is for women whose ex partners actually do post intimate images online without consent. The problem lies not with those of us who share images of our bodies with lovers, but with lovers who lack the sensibility to honour the intimacy of that sharing, and instead choose to cause us fear and distress in their abuse of our trust.

As Leonard Cohen tells it, I don’t have to be forgiven / for loving you that much…

 

Certain Dark Things

18 Oct
Arthur Boyd - Lovers in a Boat

Arthur Boyd – Lovers in a Boat

 “I love you as certain dark things are to be loved, in secret, between the shadow and the soul.” *

After our first meeting I thought, Shit, I will never see her again. Then she sent me a message shall we have coffee before I go home, and so I rang her. She answered from where she was buying boots, it was her birthday, her present to herself she said, and we arranged a day and time and I thought, she feels it too. It entered her when it entered me. That first moment when I saw her and thought, she’s lovely, so lovely, and permitted myself one gentle touch to her forearm as I told her I’d been worried she might think I was an Internet predator, and she laughed and that was the first time I heard her laugh.

Why do you want this with me?

Because I can make your breasts swell and your cunt wet from a thousand miles away. Because, you.

I don’t think I can do this. I don’t think I am the kind of woman who can do this. It will take me to a very dark place. And then?

 Don’t give up on me. I can’t bear to lose you. If it gets too difficult tell me, and we’ll sort it out. I can’t bear to lose you. I was so afraid you would be too good to be true for me. This is the email in which you tell me it’s over. That’s what I fear every time I see your name in my inbox. She is leaving me.

My husband is dying. I am making myself read his letters, years of letters from exotic places. They all begin, My darling wife. My darling wife…

 If you had met me when your husband was well and with you, you would still have loved me wouldn’t you?

No. I might have been drawn to you. But there was no room in my heart or mind or body for anyone but him. It is too cruel, for someone whose life is already taken up to invade another’s. That isn’t love. To cause that much harm isn’t love. Love is to refuse the opportunity to harm. Isn’t it?

 I know we are both leaving early today and there is no time for our morning sexy chat. I just wanted our thoughts to touch. Our thoughts to touch. Our thoughts to touch.

I don’t know this at the beginning and I won’t know it for a long time to come, but I am vulnerable and half broken before this affair even begins, judgement askew in a mind and body disturbed by loss incremental and unrelenting. He is a good person he tells me, but sometimes people who believe themselves to be good do the most harm, so blinded by belief in their goodness they are unable to see their capacity to injure.

 You have given me a new lease on life. We are like teenagers. You are so beautiful. Do you think, are you game, would you send me photos? To help with my imagining?

You know. Not of your toes.

 I think about you every waking minute. I am in the hardware store, staring at the shelves, wondering what it is I came here to buy. Thinking about you. I am at lunch with family and friends. Trying to have conversations while thinking about you. I am obsessed. Your photos are so beautiful. Your breasts so shapely, so full, so firm. Can I suckle? Will you feed me? It would be heaven, fucking you as we travelled down the Mekong. Heaven.

And how I love your voice. I long to hear your voice. Always. Your voice.

“Woman, I would have been your child, to drink the milk of your breasts as from a well, to see and feel you at my side and have you in your gold laughter and your crystal voice.”

I can feel him in my blood. It’s cellular, he said, what happened when I first kissed you was a cellular exchange. His words have such power. Does he know the power of words? Do any of us really understand the power of words? Do we understand when we say I love you that one day we may be obliged to say I don’t love you anymore, or worse, withdraw into silence because we lack the courage to speak the truth?

           “…we cannot tell the truth. It is forbidden because it hurts everyone. We never say the truth, we must lie, mostly as a result of our two needs: our need for love and cowardice.”

I was too forensic he told me, which to me meant my meticulous attention to the implications of the heart’s acts of love and treachery disturbed him. You take a word, one word and interrogate it, he complained. I want to know details, I told him. I want accuracy. I want the truth at the heart of the matter. You use words to obfuscate, I told him. I use them to light my way. Language is a holy lamp burning in the dark, I told him. It’s the one thing we have that can bring us close to the truthfulness of something. I can’t help it, I said. I have to know what you mean. You say you dislike giving glib answers. But what you think so carefully about is not how to clarify your answer, but how to make a mystery with your words. I said all this and he said you are making me anxious. When we get into this kind of mess, it makes me so anxious I think it will kill me. So I tried to stop my forensic ways but I might as well have tried to stop breathing. There is the truth of a situation. Or there is a certain dark thing. Or there is both.

           “Had to go crazy to love you / had to go down to the pit / had to do time in the tower / begging my crazy to quit / had to go crazy to love you / you who were never the one…

You always say things I’ve never thought of he told me, with some indignation because he usually believed himself to be the smartest person in the room.

I come to watch your exercise class. It is a hot day and I can see that you are sweating. As soon as you finish I hurry you out. You protest that you need a shower, but I say “no time” and rush you back to the bedroom. I pull your clothes off, then my own and push you back on the bed, startling you with my urgency.

Your cunt is already wide open and wet, my cock hard and wet and I thrust straight into to you. You match my thrusts with your pelvic movements. We are both sweating profusely now, feeling the wetness between our bellies as they move together and apart, in rhythm.

The sweat is dripping from my nipples onto your face, and you lift your head up and lick the sweat from them with your tongue. I share the need, and, your arms being crossed behind your head for support, I can lick the sweat from your armpits, savouring the rich salty taste.

This sharing drives us both into a final frenzy and we come. I am spent, all my cum drawn into your cunt by your strong contractions. We collapse back side by side, exhausted but satisfied and well nourished, our tongues licking our lips to enjoy the last taste of each other.

After a little sleep to recover, we head at last for the shower. Warm water cascades between our bodies, splashing from one to the other.

I soap your wonderful breasts, marvelling at their firmness and fullness, tracing their roundness over and over with my soapy hand. But not touching your nipples, although you thrust forward, wanting to feel my hands on them.

Instead my hands move down to soap your smooth belly, as yours do the same to mine. You soap my cock and balls, and I am amazed to discover, having thought them empty, that they seem full again, and my cock is thrusting against your hand.

My hand moves down to soap your cunt, still swollen it seems from the earlier fuck. As I soap you I feel your clitoris become a hard presence against my hand. I turn you around to soap your back. All the way down to your lovely firm round arse. It is too much, and I turn you round and lift you so I can once again enter your cunt.

You gasp with pleasure then tell me I can come and I do, filling you. My cock softens inside you. Then I slip him out and lower you to the floor. We turn off the water and dry each other, our bodies warm and glowing.

We head for our bed, unaccountably needing to sleep in each other’s arms.

No one has ever before written such things to me. My husband’s love letters were chaste, telling me that he longed for me, yearned for his beloved. My beloved, he called me. Don’t turn your face away from me, my beloved, he begged when we were at odds. Desire has never come to me in the form of the written word and I am astounded, breathless, and not a little afraid of the fierceness it arouses in me. We meet, and our tongues. Our tongues. Every bodily sensation distils itself in our tongues and I think, later, that is a new and superior way to use our tongues to tell the truth.

           “We are in the process of descending into the depths of the heart. To where bodies communicate with each other.”

Why do you want this with me? Why are you taking these risks? Why, when you know it has carnage of the heart written all over it?

Because you are good for me. And because these 24 hours, thinking you’d gone has put a lot of strain on me physically (and continues to) as well as mentally. And because I think we are good for each other. Mostly.

This morning

The thought of seeing you wake up, dishevelled, warm and still sleepy, wearing only a tee shirt, your cunt wet, your fingers reaching lazily for your clit, me taking your hand and licking your juices from your fingers

was driving me wild with desire.

I can’t decide whether I am more obsessed by your cunt or your breasts. My lovely. My beautiful. You.

He said, I always tell my wife I am meeting you. I don’t tell lies. I am astounded by this last statement. I think about it for a long time. I realise that he uses his words to tell one small truth that will obfuscate the large lie. He lies like a politician, like the Cardinal Pell. He tells his wife he is meeting me, which is the truth, but he omits the nature and content of the meeting, the forensics, the accuracy, the truth of it. After he’s been caught he tells me the details don’t matter. But I am the details. Everything that has been between us is in the details. It is the details that break everybody’s hearts, one way or another. It is another lie, to say the details don’t matter. The truth is, they matter more than anything else, they hold everyone’s fate in the balance, no wonder you can’t write fiction, I tell him scornfully, when you think the details don’t matter. What kind of intelligent person, I demand, tells himself details don’t matter?

His wife tells me later that she knew all along, he only thought he was deceiving her. She shouts at me. I shout back. Finally, we stop shouting and listen to one another. So, why, I want to know. If you knew, why did you let him go unchallenged for so long? Because you are the only one I’ve ever thought he would leave me for, she says. The only one? There are others? He is a serial adulterer? He told me you are the most intelligent woman he’s ever met, she says. He’s never given me credit for my intelligence, she adds. He doesn’t even know me. I wanted to do medicine but I met him too soon. I typed his PhD. Family is everything. Depends on the nature of the family, I think, but do not say. He is an honourable man, she tells me, I know you don’t think so, but he is. An honourable man? He has deceived you for all this time, I retort. He didn’t deceive me, I knew, she cried, but he thought he was deceiving you, it was his intention to deceive you, I insist. I am so angry, she says, sometimes I shake with rage. He’s gone deaf, she tells me, he’s lost hearing in his one good ear. That’s lucky, I reply, he can’t hear either of us. Then I remember how years ago when I confronted my mother about her complicity in her husband’s abuse of me she ran out of the room and the next day went stone deaf. No cause could be found for her sudden loss of hearing, and eventually it was diagnosed as hysterical deafness. Protecting her from what she couldn’t bear to hear. He just needs another grommet, his wife said. That’s how she introduced herself to me on the phone. This is (his) wife. I stayed up all night reading your blog, she told me. I suppose you’re curious about me, I said. She yelled: He wouldn’t go out with me for any of our anniversaries, or my birthday because he all he wanted was to be communicating with you! And now he is depressed and anxious and deaf! He sleeps all day! He misses you! He cares about you! He is suffering I am making sure he is suffering I can see it in his face. Good, I tell her. I like you. I like you too, she says.

You’ve been through this, she said, I read about it on your blog. How did you manage? It wasn’t quite the same, I told her. It was over when I found out about it. I never feared he would leave me. Sexual infidelity is one thing and it’s awful. But emotional infidelity, like this is?

If I’d thought he loved someone else I would have left him, I told her. I couldn’t bear to live with anyone who loved somebody else. Who was thinking about her all the time. My husband told me this about his lover: she was never in my imagination. You, my wife, are always in my imagination.

 I desire you infinitely. How beautiful you are. How much we manage to talk and communicate without setting out to talk. How anxious I get and how you reassure and comfort me. How well we have come to understand each other now. How good it will be to hear your voice again. How beautiful you are. How I love you. How I adore you. Night night, gorgeous lady with the beautiful breasts.

“How I would love you woman, how I would love you,/ love you as no one ever did! / Die and still /love you more,/And still /love you more, /and more.”

If a man or a woman chooses marriage, there are words he or she should never speak other than to their beloved. And if he or she does speak them they kill with them, perhaps one, perhaps two, perhaps several people. There was one thing and one thing only I knew for certain about him. That he was capable of terrible betrayal. When he took my hand in the café and gazed at me with the particular intensity that means only one thing, I should have said, no. I should have said what I’ve said before: only if your wife says it’s ok. A constellation of extraordinary circumstances determined that I would love him. I am suffering also, I told his wife. Badly. Good, she said. I know, I said. I know.

 “I remembered you with my soul clenched.”

 

*In order of appearance in the text:

Pablo Neruda, 100 Love Sonnets

Pablo Neruda, The Poetry of Pablo Neruda

Hélène Cixous, The Book of Promethea

Leonard Cohen, Had to go Crazy to Love You

Hélène Cixous, The Book of Promethea

Pablo Neruda, The Poetry of Pablo Neruda

Pablo Neruda, Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair

Stranded in the shit field

30 Oct

Now and again in a life, one runs into what I like to call a shit field – a series of apparently unconnected events that occur simultaneously, or hard on one another’s heels, all of which share a common theme.

It can be difficult to recognise you’re in the shit field at the time, because its very nature clouds the mind and takes a toll on perceptions.

For the last twelve months, and particularly the last four or five, some of the effects of trudging through the shit field have been an increasing lack of creativity, loss of interest in the world, crippling anxiety, depression, and a sense of having completely lost control of my life and my ability to make good decisions.

I apologise to everyone who has stayed with the blog, for my increasing lack of output, and the deteriorating quality of the posts I have managed.

I wrote here about the experience of being with my beloved husband last year, after he suffered a massive stroke. I underestimated the length of time it would take me to recover from the loss of the man with who I had shared a long, fraught love affair of such intensity that I couldn’t ever imagine loving anyone else. I’m familiar with the Kubler Ross theory of the five stages of grief, though in my experience they are not necessarily consecutive, and I don’t recall ever doing any bargaining, probably because I don’t believe in a higher power so I don’t have a transcendental exteriority in my life with whom to cut a deal.

Apart from that, I’d say the model is fairly accurate, and applies to important loss of any kind, not solely death and dying, if one needs a framework to help explain the chaos inside.

I also underestimated the exhaustion I would feel and for how long I would feel it, after week upon week of sitting at my husband’s bedside, watching him deteriorate, watching in shocked despair as he railed and screamed at me in a language I could no longer understand, and at the end of these rantings, trembling as I watched him break down, as he stroked my face with his one good hand, and begged me for I knew not what. I assumed comfort. Many times I climbed onto his bed and laid my body the length of his frail frame, and held him while he fumbled, sobbing, for my breasts.

I would leave him at the end of these gruelling days, and make my way back to the Bondi Beach apartment a friend’s daughter had loaned me while she was overseas. Sometimes I’d catch a bus. More often I’d walk, as a way to calm myself, and reconnect with the world outside of the nursing home. I was not really a fit companion for anyone, and generally too exhausted for dinners or meetings with old friends. I found it difficult to sleep. These days I hate the city, and found adapting to its racket after the silence of my north coast home, almost impossible. I missed my dog. I missed him something awful.

Our life together, mine and A’s, had been largely conducted in Bondi where we lived at the beach, apart from a brief period when A realised a life-long dream, and bought a converted Pittwater ferry that we moored at the Newport Marina and lived on for a couple of years on and off. Our weekend pleasure was to motor slowly round the waterways, and come back to haul up our crab pots full of blue swimmers that A would then cook in a huge pot and we’d eat for supper with wine or a beer.  I remember once standing beside him at the boat’s wheel, my skirt flying open in the wind, my hair whipping at my face, and A turning to me and saying “If I died now, here with you, I would die a happy man.”

I told him this and other stories of our life as I sat beside him, holding his hand. I think he heard. I think he remembered. I think it gave him some sense of who he was, and had been.

I know now that I had never loved him more than I did those months I sat vigil at his bedside. I don’t know where that love came from. I felt it enter me as I walked through the nursing home doors. I felt its energy fill me as I climbed the stairs to his room. I felt that love sustain me through everything that occurred, every day it occurred. That love overwhelmed me.  Without it, I couldn’t have lasted a week. I’m not a believer in anything much. But I believe in that love.

When my friend’s daughter returned from New York, I moved to the glorious cliff top eyrie owned by my friend, Elisabeth Wynhausen, who recently died, who swore me to secrecy when she discovered her cancer, and whom I miss.

The theme of my shit field is emerging.

Then, to my utter surprise, when I had decided such things were over for me, earlier this year I fell in love.  The circumstances were challenging. Everything indicated this was not going to be easy. And yet again, out of nowhere, that love swept in with such power and took hold of me, even harder than before if that was possible, and I said a yes.

Well, in keeping with the theme of the shit field the challenges were too great, and I find myself once again in the stages of grief, or perhaps I never really got out of them.

What strikes me as remarkable, however, is that something so comparatively short-lived can cause an anguish not dissimilar to the loss of the love affair of decades. Of course there isn’t the history to mourn. But the loss. Oh god, the loss.

Or perhaps it is an accumulation of loss that finally overwhelms. I can’t tell yet. I’m still too much in love. I haven’t caught up with events. I’m still talking to him in my head as if he hasn’t gone. I’m still hurt when there’s no good morning and goodnight. I haven’t got used to the loss of him beginning my days and ending my nights. The absence of his presence.

So, I doubt I’ll be out of the shit field anytime soon. Thank you for staying around.

 

Love. That is all.

20 Jul

A few months ago I wrote here about spending time with my seriously ill husband, and my experience of coming to terms with the end of a love that had been everything to me.

It took years to accept that love was over, and what I eventually took from that lonely, arid time was painful instruction on the power of human attachment.

When I visited A last year,  desperately ill after a massive stroke, unable to speak coherently and only intermittently recognising me, our life together did indeed parade itself before my eyes, and I laid many things to rest as I sat for weeks beside his bed, holding his hands while he struggled to tell me he loved me and always would.

The miracle was, that after everything that went wrong we did still love each other. I wasn’t altogether surprised to find that in me, because I am very bad at endings. The life may no longer be a shared one, but something in me, deep in my belly, refuses to entirely let go of the love. I don’t know if this is a good or a bad thing, it just is. So I can look at someone I loved years ago and think  oh, yes, I loved you and oh yes, the ending was hard and I hated you for a while, and oh yes, though I don’t want to do anything about it and my life has changed, still there is tenderness, and gratitude for what we knew together.

Grief is an altered state. It can take you by surprise, long after you think you’ve done with it. It becomes less wild, less consuming as time passes. It can take on a sorrowful tenderness that for all its softness, still wrenches the heart. Grief can be triggered unexpectedly, long after you think you’re done with it, and you find yourself needing to hide away while you work out what has suddenly gone wrong with your breathing, and why out of nowhere you badly want to cry.

For example, I walked into a room today where someone was playing Mendelssohn’s Sonata for Cello and Piano, #2 in D Major. I listened to this Sonata, along with the Brahms #1 in F, during a very rough period in my marriage, during the last of many journeys A and I made together, down the Mekong, through Laos. I’ve heard both many times since, of course, but never without some emotion, the power of which has lessened over time. Yet today, for reasons I can’t explain, I heard the familiar first movement as if I was back on that long boat, sitting on my backpack beside A, both of us silenced by the misery of knowing it was too late for this journey or any other journey together, and neither of us able to end it.

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I don’t have a list of things I want to do before I die. At times I think, vaguely, of travelling to places I’ve never been because it would be excellent to leave the earth having seen as much of it as possible. At times I think I want to go back to the place where I was born one more time, because every time I return to that North Yorkshire country I feel a primitive and powerful sense of belonging that I have never felt anywhere else.

But lately I’ve been thinking that these things come a poor second to love, in all its frequently unexpected and varied manifestations, and it’s likely love that tops my bucket list.

Today my friend said, there’s no such thing as a perfect relationship is there?  There is, I said, after a while. The perfect relationship is the one where you care enough to bother struggling through the shitty bits and find you still want to stay in it. The perfect relationship is the one where you don’t want to struggle through the shit, and you have the decency and the courage to leave before you cause anymore damage to yourself and the other. Love is required for both. Isn’t it?

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Today I re-learned that nothing ends when you think it has. This annoys me, because I don’t live easily with loose ends. Somewhere along the way I’ve got it into my head that one must have “closure,” resolution, well-defined endings in order to move onto anything new. But actually, I’m coming to think that’s crap. My life is a chaos of ongoing love of varying kinds and depths, and I can’t think how to tidy up any of it. Perhaps I don’t have to? Perhaps instead I must learn to live with the disorder of a functioning human heart? Perhaps for years to come I will unexpectedly feel grief for my husband, for my dead mother, for my friend, for everyone I’ve  loved and will love, with various degrees of complexity and difficulty, success and failure.

There is a human being. There is love. That is all.


In praise of modern families, and bickering.

27 Mar

For some years now, Mrs Chook and I have shared a house, The Dog, and a domestic life, for the most part, harmoniously. At first we were the subject of  some salacious speculation in our village, especially when my separated second husband came to visit one Christmas because he was lonely in Sydney, got sick, and thoroughly overstayed his welcome.

At the time I was unaware of the gossip because I didn’t care. It always surprises me that anybody would be interested, but unconventional domestic arrangements still frighten and confuse some people. This is why we can’t have gay marriage. Frightened and confused people are preventing it.

Our main method of dealing with domestic tensions is to bicker them out. We are perfectly comfortable with this, though a friend recently refused to travel in the car with us because she said our bickering reminded her too much of travelling with her parents.

Real bickering contains no malice. Indeed, it demands love and affection as a prerequisite. In their absence, it ceases to be bickering and becomes acrimony. I concede, though, that for some, the demarcation line can be obscure.

 

We have complaints against one another, mostly small, but they can be the most aggravating. For example. We never eat breakfast together. I eat mine at peculiar times, and usually at my desk or roaming. This morning I ate the last two caper berries before Mrs Chook got round to food. I had no idea they had her name on them, and frankly, it probably wouldn’t have made much difference if I had, because I wanted them. Mrs Chook informed me she had been looking forward to those berries, and there was a brief and futile dispute, because, eaten.

This goes the other way, usually with chocolate. I only feel like chocolate sometimes, while she likes it all the time. So when I finally get around to thinking I’ll have chocolate, I go to the cupboard and it’s all gone. I keep meaning to hide some, but I always forget.

Yesterday she “accidentally” wore my blue Speedos (the same colour as hers, we bought them at the same time in the sale at the Speedo shop) even though there are two sizes difference between her and me. She swears she didn’t take them out of my swim bag and that I left them on the washing line but whatever, I got to the pool later with no cossies, and the pool is 30 minutes drive away.

The week before she got around all day in my bra, same situation, bought together cos sale, again, two sizes difference between her bra and mine, but did that stop her? She didn’t even notice. I had no other clean bras and she’d gone to work.

Some winters ago she put my favourite blue jumper in the washing machine and shrank it beyond all redemption. That still hurts.

A few days ago I completely forgot I was boiling eggs, until I heard something that sounded like gunfire, ran upstairs to see what was happening, and found four eggs exploded all over the kitchen walls and ceiling, and a saucepan that went into the tip pile. Mrs Chook did not remonstrate with me for my carelessness. She even helped me clean up, though this is not the first time I’ve done that.

One day last year, she didn’t turn the gas off properly & when I lit it there was this explosion and all the hairs on my arms were singed. She then put up an enormous notice on the kitchen wall that read “TURN OFF THE GAS.” I added “FUCKING”, twice.

She says I don’t listen. She says I look as if I’m listening but she can tell my head is somewhere else altogether and sometimes, to test me, she asks me half an hour later what she’s said. I usually make something up. She says she has to make an appointment with me to discuss domestic matters because I’m always too engrossed in something. She says I am very difficult to live with at times, and that she gets sick of me never paying attention.

On the occasions when we go shopping together, we almost always get into a fight. I loathe shopping. My idea of shopping is to throw everything I think we might need into the trolley times two, so I don’t have to come back anytime soon. Mrs Chook, on the other hand, likes to read the labels and see where everything is coming from and what’s in it. This shits me to tears.

We have successfully bickered our way through every one of our differences, even big ones, every time they arise. There have been tears, and occasionally someone throws something, but it has always been negotiated down to bickering, if at times with tissues.

The best bickering always ends in Shut up. You shut up. No you shut up. I said it first. You fucking didn’t, I did. Well I’m saying it now. I don’t care. Shut up. You shut up. Don’t tell me to shut up…until The Dog bites somebody. There is much to be said for allowing the inner child out at such times.

Three of my dearest male friends have also successfully shared living arrangements for over two decades. Some years ago the five of us took an apartment together in Barcelona for a few weeks. Three of us were giving papers at the Universitat de Barcelona, & the others came for support and the fun.

We’d never stayed together for longer than a night or two. We had no idea how it would work out, but the apartment was just off Las Ramblas, a ten minute walk from the Universitat, cheap, and we had enough faith in our good natures to feel reasonably certain we could pull it off.

Mrs Chook and I thought we would have to curb our bickering, given we were all in close quarters for several weeks and not everybody understands our method of loving one another. For the first few days we took it outside, and bickered away happily while we gazed at Gaudi’s architectural feats, and ate tapas at various bars. Then we gradually became aware that our friends were tossing good-natured abuse at one another, going much further than we had yet dared, and we were amazed. At dinner one night, we brought the subject up. We admitted we’d been afraid they’d find our manners unseemly. They admitted they’d feared the same. They said most people didn’t understand how they talk to one another, and they had to be careful. They said they felt they’d taken a great risk, shacking up with us for all this time, and worried that at the end of it we might not like them anymore.

On the contrary, we assured them, we were learning so many new ways of bickering, and it was wonderful! By the end of our stay we were just one big happy bickering family, hell, we even learned to bicker in Spanish.

It’s such a cliché, to claim that there are many kinds of love. If one is open to the experience, it seems often to come from the most unexpected quarters, inconvenient, disturbing the settled, demanding acknowledgement and expression, dangerous and confronting, as well as offering  happiness, safety and refuge.

There as many kinds of families as there are kinds of love, in my experience. I love the family my friends have made. I love the family Mrs Chook and I have made. In neither situation has marriage or children played a part in the creation, but in both instances the original units have expanded until they contain many more sentient beings.

Next Wednesday, our family’s latest baby will be born. Mrs Chook and I will be there, as will her or his two other grandmothers. The baby’s grandfather and me, divorced now for more years than I care to consider, will drink champagne together and congratulate one another on the family we made. He will get a little drunk, and as usual hug me too hard for too long when no one is watching. He, his second wife, Mrs Chook and me, will be sharing the care of  our grandchild Archie, while his parents have a few days in peace with the new baby.

Never in my wildest dreams could I have foreseen this kind of life.

Love, actually.

Happy holidays everyone from No Place for Sheep!!!

24 Dec

Be well!! Be safe!! Be kind to one another!! (even if it’s just for a day) 

 

Lots of ♥ from Jennifer, Mrs Chook & The Dog.

For all the babies

7 Jul

Especially this one: 

Because when the chips are down, what you need is a little bit of love. 

Forever Young

 Bob Dylan

May God bless and keep you always
May your wishes all come true
May you always do for others
And let others do for you

May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every rung
May you stay forever young
May you stay forever young.

May you grow up to be righteous
May you grow up to be true
May you always know the truth
And see the lights surrounding you

May you always be courageous
Stand upright and be strong
May you stay forever young
May you stay forever young.

May your hands always be busy
May your feet always be swift
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift

May your heart always be joyful
And may your song always be sung
May you stay forever young
May you stay forever young.

And for these big kids too:  
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