Waking up to Shirley Bassey singing Diamonds are forever in my head, was spooky enough. To hear myself think I don’t know if I want to be an artist anymore made me sit up sharp. My months of insomnia were deeply disorienting, almost a form of undoing. Surfacing from this wide-eyed swoon I meet this ‘I’ anew.
Three artists visited this week, chose work for exhibition. Boxes of crochet were unpacked; fingers retraced, recalled their efforts. For a few hours I felt alive, bubbly, on the brink of competence. I had notions.
The next day fatigue was so profound desire and vitality seemed otherworldly. Limbs, jaws, skull, the hair on my head hurt, my hands had been stamped on, and something pounded my ribs and stole my air. Half a week later I am still returning.
Our identities are always in flow, and that’s as it should be. Fatigue crushes. One moment you are bobbing happily in quiet waters (with a selection of pewter jugs tied to wrists and ankles, but you’re used to it), next a giant wave pulls you under, and doesn’t release you for a long tenebrous while. And again. And over.
Pen, book, crochet hook (the wind whistles paint brush now) – the stuff of in-house drive and reverie. Hooks sunk into the world. Dear hands, … — …
The mundane links us into our neighbourhoods, the passage through and habitual use of everyday places. I haven’t been to the local library in years, nor a dry-cleaner’s, charity shop, bakery, super or street market; haven’t chatted with the newsagent, or moaned with others in the same slow-moving post-office queue. En route to hospital, say, or a friend’s settee, I see façades flit by, the outermost of moneyed and embattled lives, houses boarded-up, shop fronts with nothing behind, glass-fronted office blocks with huge foyers, and no trace of their inner workings.
Just before Xmas I caught a glimpse of urban (I presume) shopping when a friend posted photos taken at TK Maxx. Stranger than a flea-market stall, a mythical place, gifts galore, discarded and discardable things, trivial things, far travelled things, lost and found things, immeasurable things, treasures, troves, tropes, heaps, hopes, dizzy-bright, dizzy-dark, everything cheery and kind of broken, headless, only the unicorn, and my greedy eye…
Shoo, shoo, you thoughs and buts, not a word, I am in sleep’s good graces! And, after months of weightlessness, no consequence, more shade than real, I’ve started to fill out a little, materialise.
Last year has shaken, no: nearly untethered me. I say this now, anxious to swirl away insomnia’s worst; safe distance, I declare, and dance a pretty pirouette where past and present fork. The days when I well-nigh stopped wanting – no further than a stone flies; when the desperate need for sleep infested all – hope, wishing, enterprise, and only writing bumbled towards maybe, conceivably.
I do sleep better, occasionally even well. Still, buts and thoughs spit admonitions. Desire and energy grow at wildly disproportionate rates; frustration keeps a tally. I have my moments (the early morning-kind), but fatigue has dug its heels in, and heart stops time with sudden surges. Half of me would like to lock the door, hole up with comrade sleep until I’m sure she’ll never leave; the other half is rearing to go, join a race, a rave, a raucous, preposterous, abandoned thing. I have a foal in me! And a Cassandra.