24 October 2018

Rigor Mortis

The house on Victoria Road had, for many years, a dirty cream carpet in all the rooms. When we started our lease in January 2014, I remember thinking how dumb it was that they had put carpet in the entryway. I had coded it as a particularly British oversight, the way you would find carpet in toilets sometimes, and recoil, instinctively. We lived on this carpet for many years, until I became a homeowner, homeowner of this particular home, and we started to pull it all up downstairs. Last autumn, I did most of it, cleaned up the floorboards through the first floor and then up the stairs and then into the room that was the bathroom and became Naomi's bedroom. The boards were full of nails from carpets over the years, but I dug them all out, my hands cut up and the recurring thoughts of whether or not any of this made sense to do.

The last rooms with carpet — the master bedroom and the second bedroom where Yoko and I sleep — had been put off indefinitely, but several weeks ago, I pulled it out of the girls room in a dramatic display of a box cutter and tearing. That done, I had Mei and Mia pick out a paint colour they liked (Blue Wool), and then found an analogous, cheaper version of the same colour — Pale Duck Egg — at Homebase. They would love this name, of course, and I knew that when I bought it, patting myself on the back for both saving money and retaining the novelty. Who wants wool when you can have duck eggs. I sealed the cracks in the ceiling then painted for a weekend and then finally decided to put down laminate flooring, this faux wood print that I had avoided buying because I wanted one the original boards. I loaded the flatbed trolley with fifteen boxes of planks, and all the sundries I needed — underlay and some trim — just over five hundred pounds. I tried to not think about the money as I handed over my credit card and pushed it out to the car. 

When I closed my eyes to meditate yesterday, I saw the laminate flooring that I had put down and my mind flooded with all the thoughts of renovations and then Brexit and then the visas and the money and the changing rules. I had looked at our credit card statement closely and I realised I didn't make enough money, did I, to cover the costs of life and that there was no one to blame, no one at whom I could direct my anger. The years of moving on and around are done, the Finnish dream or another run of life in Southeast Asia. These are the thoughts that I have when I close my eyes, and the man asks about our posture, where we are holding our stress. I'm holding my stress in the thoughts of my laminate flooring and the sofa we have purchased on zero percent credit even though we don't know if they are going to send us out of this country next year. We know they won't, I can say that, I should say that, but the thought is still there when I close my eyes and try to focus on the breath. Something always tries to take your attention away.

I fell asleep with the lights on last night. The house is warm, although I keep turning the thermostat down — the monthly bill has gone up again. I did say goodnight to the girls, I do remember that. Yoko fell asleep beside me at some point. I dreamt I was in Texas, that I was headed to a birthday party at the foot of the Franklin Mountains, in a park that only exists in my dreams, an amalgamation of Cannon Hill Park and some vision I have of the desert still. I found the party, a group of people under some trees and a family I haven't seen in decades. They smiled when they saw me, and I said, it's been years hasn't it. And then I woke up.