Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Love, peace and slippers.

On Wednesday evening, I took me down to Strawberry Fields, where everything was real. It was the thirtieth anniversary of John Lennon's murder, and Strawberry Fields is the memorial area of Central Park, right across from the Dakota Building in 72nd Street (or ON 72nd Street as US English has it), where he lived and was shot down, and where his widow Yoko Ono still has apartments.

Susan was working, so I went on my own, riding up on the subway on the A Train. There were hundreds of people there, some lighting and holding candles, all singing Lennon and Beatles songs. The age range was from teens to seventies: John and his band have universal appeal. There was a minute's silence at 10.50pm, the time he was shot, and another at 11.10pm, the time he died, or anyway round about the time he died; a couple of people had turned up by then whose idea of fun was to disrupt things by yelling. There were those who wanted to do some damage to the people shouting. I thought "right; if they won't give peace a chance, split their heads open..." and a woman behind me said, surely rightly, that John would have been with the disrupters. But more or less a minute of more or less silence we eventually got, which is an achievement in itself in Manhattan.

People were relaxed, calm and peaceful, talking to one another about John, the Beatles, what the lyrics meant (I know, I know, but it's inevitable), the history of it all; and singing, always singing. Everyone seemed to know all the lyrics and we were all singing along with great gusto. We sang Imagine (of course), Strawberry Fields Forever (of course), A Day in the Life, which was the moment I choked up-- well, okay, one of them-- and many others. It was at that point that I looked down at my feet and realised that I hadn't changed out of my slippers before I left the house. Well, do you know what? My feet never felt cold or sore, so they must be damn good slippers, well worth the twelve quid I paid for them, so that's a result really. I'm glad I went, glad now that I was there, glad that from now on I can say I was there, that after thirty years I've finally been at a Lennon memorial at Strawberry Fields. And that I have a fine pair of slippers.

Friday, 3 December 2010

Not long now...

It's Friday evening. On Monday morning in the middle of still Sunday night really, I will be off to the airport, where I will board an aeroplane bound for New York. And when I get there, I will see my Susan, hold her, and spend eleven wonderful weeks with her, her family and friends.

She's been writing list after list, of things to do, things to eat, things to see, things to buy, things to cook. She's a list maker, and also a folder user, which will benefit me greatly in the years to come: no more wondering where the hell that electricity bill has disappeared to! No more panicking because I can't find the prescription the doctor gave me just that morning! I will learn to live with her organisationalism (don't care, it's a word NOW), she will learn to live with my scatterism (ditto), we will reach amicable accommodations together. We do so already, mostly without rancour or unpleasantness, although there is on both sides the occasional dropped jaw or raised eyebrow, and sometimes both at once. But most of the time there's only ONE side, called Us; Cameron and Susan; Susan and Cameron.

We're an And now. As in John AND Yoko, Romeo AND Juliet, fish AND chips, bagels AND more bagels. I have never been more certain of anything in my life, and I know, not just feel or think but know, that nor has Susan.

They say that relationships, marriages, take work. They're right. And we're working on this one, out of a shared Love and a shared determination to succeed. Sometimes it takes surprisingly HARD work, and when that's the case, there's a satisfaction of enormous proportions in it when we come out on the other side of it knowing we've done a good job together and put another potential obstacle behind us. We joke and laugh often, talk about films and art and culture, and language, often; discuss serious issues frequently and share always. We don't always agree about everything, but we have a set of shared assumptions that means major conflicts are rare to the point of non-existence.

Sound idyllic? Does it? Well, sorry, but it is. I am hugely happy. It's odd being so happy while still being aware, inside my head, of suffering from depression. Most of the time the depression is fairly distant, more than a memory but less than a spectre. Sometimes it looms larger, when I become aware of still living on a different continent from her or when we have a fight (they're inevitably about really silly little things, all sound and fury but signifying nothing, but they hurt terribly). On occasions like that there are still clouds above my head; but they're little grey ones, not at all the thunderous black devils that used to be there.

Wow. I started this post just because I wanted to write something and wanted to tell you all how exciting it is to be me, here, now. It's taken itself in unexpected directions. Probably not unpredictable ones though. I love it when a piece of writing does that, when I start with a vague idea of what I'm about to write and then the words themselves take over and I end up writing something completely different. Sometimes comedy turns into tragedy or whimsy turns into nostalgia, or nostalgia into feminism. Sometimes even the form changes, and a poem becomes a fairy tale. Once, a poem about a paragraph long got sculpted down to four words, while on another occasion one which felt just not quite right was studied and worried over for two days before I realised that what it needed was to start with a comma. With the comma in place, I felt like baby bear.

I think this post is done now.