To spare my blushes, I’d like to think, that you haven’t really lived until you’ve found yourself bawling your eyes out in the Japanese Wing of the V&A. Goodness only knows what the other visitors thought. Perhaps that I was communing deeply with the pottery in front of me. Having strangers think that I am so wonderfully deep, that the sight of a beautiful pot can move me to tears is what soothes the humiliation of crying in public.
I love museums; love their dusky, musky smells, love the near silent revelry of those within. I find it amazing how quiet, a huge, booming building can be.
I love the V&A best of all. I love it especially on a week day. I love discovering some new wing or tiny artefact. The last time I visited (before the tears), I came across a carpet so precious that it could only be lit for 10 mins every hour! What was more remarkable, that there was people waiting to view it, a wait of 20 minutes.
I adore the V&A as a building, as a monument to love, ostensibly. I adore what it means to A. and I, the hours we’ve spent wandering its great halls. I like the gift shop, and the tea room and the amount of dust that dances its way across the beams of sunshine; from the windows that look out into the garden in the middle.
All of this and none of it was tickling my brain, that Tuesday, while I was idly contemplating the Japanese ceramics. I was feeling a deep joy to be back, when “blam!” the fear got me.
I didn’t see him sneaking in, he must have been tailing me all morning, following in the shadows, sniffing about where he’s not wanted. This particular fear is a peculiar one, he’s reasonably new to me.
You know that feeling when you are so happy you think your heart my burst or your head explode? This fear must be attracted to the pheromones that sort of joy creates and just at the point of bursting or explosion, he comes along with his big, icy hands and clamps them firmly upon you. All the time he’s whispering that you are so stupid to be happy or joyous and even though the sun is shining the storm clouds aren’t far behind; don’t you know something will happen soon to make it so you’ll never feel happy again? Not only will you never feel it again, you will be so robbed as to never even remember what happy felt like. Joy will be lost to you.
But remarkably what the fear was whispering, scary as it was, was not what I was crying about. What left me wailing in front of the pots (and tourists of many nationalities) that day was the sudden realisation that my reaction to feeling ‘dance a jig’ happy was to be scared of what was going to happen to ruin it. I wept that day because I was so sad, that my experiences, could leave me so, so fearful of joy. I cried so much I had to go and have a cup of tea in the William Morris tea room. Later, when I got to work, I cried all over again.
I’ve been absent from little blog for a while, not because I’ve spent the last few months weeping and wailing. I’ve been pretty tired, exhausted might be a better word. The concentration I’ve needed to expend at work has left me little energy for much else. The longer I was working the more difficult it was to do much more.
I had no real problem with this, I wanted to go back to work quickly after Chemo finished and since then spotty dogs and star-crossed lovers have occupied my brain. Strategically, I figured taking time of in the dreary winter months would be a waste. I doubted I could recover mentally or physically while getting blue in the February gloom. So I worked and worked and saved and saved, deciding to have a sabbatical in the spring/summer. Like the rest of creation, I would reawaken with the sunshine.
This plan worked for the most part. I was too busy to contemplate the enormity of the last year and my complex feelings towards it all. It was enough to try to kick-start my sluggish brain and more sluggish body. But glitches began to surface, you can ignore the wilderness between your ears, you can work until you are too tired to think too deeply but your mind will find a way. You might find yourself unable to stop crying because watching a ‘Juliet’ with a similar hair cut to you, trying to work up the courage stab herself, will remind you of you before each Chemo session. Or you may cry because you are sad for yourself, in the Japanese Wing of the V&A, on a Tuesday, when all you were feeling was happy. It could be any number of things I suppose, I find them almost daily at the moment.
Yet, I’m grateful for the tears. I didn’t cry that much after mum died. I’d get a strange pain and drying in my throat, then I’d clamp down and carry on in my peculiar numb way. This didn’t work out all that well for me. The more I thought of tears as a sign of weakness and controlling them as a sort of strength, the sicker and sicker I got. I am relieved at how easily the tears come these days, they don’t last that long if you just let them fall, then you can hunt out a hug and blow them a kiss goodbye for an hour or a day. Healing, they seem healing to me.
It would be helpful, mind you, if I could be suddenly multi-lingual, just so I can explain in any number of languages that I’m ok really and that perhaps those onlookers might like to see the carpet that is lit for only 10 minutes on the hour instead ….