Saturday, 25 February 2012

Happy Birthday Zach - Goodbyes to Heroin sick

Today is Zach's birthday. What a milestone. Two years ago there was doubt that he would survive for much longer, so deep were his addictions and so profound his episodes. These illness were symbiotically entwined. They fed off of one another, like ticks on the backs of elephants. For the last fifteen years or so we would celebrate Zach's birthdays by going out to eat. Many the time he would eat and then disappear into the loo in order to void himself of what he had enjoyed minutes earlier. Heroin does that to you. Heroin sick. Black muck that stains whatever it hits.

In our old house, where all this began, I had taken over my daughter's bedroom. We had built into the loft and our bedroom and bathroom were above Zach's room. 'Beth' had moved into our old bedroom and I had transformed her room in my study. It was there that I moved my books and laptop and where I attempted to research and write my doctorate. A wide, wooden desk overlooked the road outside and I could keep tabs on who came and went. On the left hand side of the room I had put in place a pristine white futon. It was hardly used. Sometimes I would simply move from typist chair to futon just to see how it felt to lay down on it. The room was bright and airy and faced south, so that the sun bathed it in a glow from noon on wards - when it shone, of course.

One night, whether it was a birthday or some kind of celebration, Zach came back home with friends. To this day I can't remember who it could have been but they had certainly been 'over-doing it.' As was the general rule of thumb when Zach lived with us during his teens and later years, the noise level rose over the small hours. I remember hearing the banging of doors and considerable retching. I feared going down to see what was happening. It all sounded too familiar.

In the morning, entering my study, I found puddles of black spew surrounding my futon. The futon itself was covered in patches of wet, grey stains; rorschach patterns. It appeared as if a hurried attempt had been made to clean off the vomit but what was left was even worse. It was ruined, never to be clean again. Later on I gave it to Zach and he used it from apartment to apartment. Fortunately he covered it. I was happy when we finally discarded this piece of furniture when Zach decided to 'live' again. Heroin chic indeed.

I rang Zach earlier today to wish him a Very Happy Birthday. I asked him how he felt to be this exalted age. His voice came back, measured and modulated. 'I feel incredibly sane,' he answered me. 'They say that with age comes sanity...' And hopefully no more black bile.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Of weddings and hair dos

Tuesdays and Thursdays are very much the days here on which to get married. Around the corner are a plethora of hairdressers, each one dedicated to creating the most imaginative and amazing hair style. The photographers and the video makers follow the bride around, from bedroom to breakfast and hairdresser to make-up artist. They await in a bored gaggle outside the beauty salons while the brides-to-be, in their jeans and t-shirts, have their hairs teased into (sometimes) the most outlandish of coiffeurs. Indeed, the entire hairdressing salon in question is devoted to that one wedding and all its experts (or not) are busy washing, blow-drying and teasing hair to curl or brushing it to the brilliant most-wanted sheen.

I've often wondered why on earth a bride would want to have her day followed in this manner. Who really wants to see her hopping out of bed into the shower and then followed from teeth and sweatsuit, to the moment that she steps into her dress and then out of the salon, fully loaded, to have the rest of the photos taken?

And then what do the photographers do? Where do they take the happy couple - for it is the happy couple together before the wedding - for the photos that will be a piece of history in a hard back album? Over the road to the beach, dragging the poor dress behind. Woe betide if it's a windy day. I've often seen the poor bride vainly attempting to keep her hair-do in one place (notwithstanding the inordinate amount of hair lacquer that's been hosed onto it) and the dress from blowing all over the place. The groom's fine. He's in his suit. Not too much can happen to him. Then there's the other venues: next to a large green waste bin because the photographer feels that there's 'art' in common street furniture, or standing on the steps in the ancient port while the sellers are tidying up their wares around them. I suppose it's all a matter of taste.

The cars are pretty jolly though, often decked in purple ribbons attached to door handles, boots and bonnets. I saw one today: a black Caddy, almost entirely decked out in pretty blue ribbons, all tied in bows. The groom and his best man sat in the front of the gleaming saloon and the bride, tottering out of the hair salon, along a white satin rug, on her extremely high heels and clutching at her dress and the ornaments on her head, attempted to make her way into it. I don't know how she did it. I think that she went in head first because all I could see after her first effort was a large white confection, not unlike a shiny merangue, topped off with a glossy crown.

And talking of weddings, I wonder how they do them throughout the rest of the world?

Monday, 20 February 2012

Needed: Fizzy wet repairman for Mac

Amazing what a day can do. Well, actually, two days. I appear to have caught some kind of virus. Maybe from cat. Either way I spent yesterday in bed, after having been up yet again all night previously, losing my innards. Not nice. From midnight until 5.00am. Why is it that we always manage to get back to sleep between 5.00 and 5.30am? Is there some kind of body clock that says 'enough is enough... Go back to sleep already!' Then, stupidly I got up to go to Pilates. Not really an educated choice. My stomach growled throughout and so I heaved my weary body home to flat coke and bed.

Today marginally better but what stunning vistas greeted me when I did wake up. Blue, blue skies and sunshine! But so cold! Last night it went down to five degrees and that is cold for here. Everything is stone and is geared for heat and whatever heat surrounds us for a while from the AC only lasts while it is on. Added to the fact that three sides of the sitting room is windows, floor to ceiling, then you get the drift. Chilly. The best place is bed. I took the dog out for a short walk onto the boardwalk and the sea was cobalt blue and full of windsurfers. I don't quite understand why they are there when the sea is far more benign than it had been over the weekend, when the waves were literally crazy. Guess that the surfer dudes don't want to drown in the notoriously dangerous whirlpools and eddies that are a feature of the sea around this coast. They did look remarkably pretty though, as did the sail boats dotting the waves further out. Picture book.

Meanwhile I've heard no more about wet Macs. Fizzy wet Macs. We did manage a call on the house phone though and that's progress. That apparently also has its moments, when it doesn't favour working. Missed calls and fade-outs. Zach sounded remarkably sane about it all and we did have a laugh but I do hope that it gets fixed. Considering that it wasn't him who did the dirty deed but his love life. How much do you have to love in order to reconcile and forgive? I often wonder. Would have hated to have viewed that fallout, knowing what it would have been like.

The weekend is over there too. Shops are open. Repair shops and retail shops too. Let's see what the days bring.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

A tail of cats and storms and water damage

Amazing what a few words can do and a request. I've had answers! And comments! Thank you all. Even the page count has mounted. Let's keep it going...

Today was remarkably cold and wet and windy. I took myself for a walk along the beach, buffeted against the wind. There were no kite surfers, nor wind surfers. It reminded me of Southsea. It smelled of Southsea. Wet sand. The wind was so ferocious that it blew the sand around and about us. The water had made its way so far up the beach that a debris remained of plastic bottles and plastic bags, odd shoes and part of a railing that had somehow disentangled itself from its home and had been hurled along the water, so that it now rested at right angles to a wooden beach hut. The municipality had engaged its workers in establishing sand dunes along the paths that led away from the beach to the beach-side cafes to prevent sea water from breaching land and flooding them out, as it did in a terrible storm last year. I don't think that the storm did so much damage this year but it was impossible to walk along the boardwalk, so high and blistering were the waves that bashed themselves over the walls. It was quite something to see.

Now I just have to contend with cat who has been caterwauling (literally) for the past two days. I tried to go to sleep last night, worrying about whether he was stuck somewhere, his shrieks so piercing and awoke at 3.00am only to hear him continuing his shrill. I had got up earlier, around midnight and dressed myself again, so concerned was I that this animal was somehow in terrible danger. The winds were howling around the building, so I stepped into my Uggs, over my pijamas, together with hoodie and scarf and jacket and made my way downstairs.

I thought that I would try and disinter cat from whatever it was that was ailing him. Nothing. No cat. Just the wind blowing through the steel sidings that have been erected by Mahmoud and Ali and Yosef next door, where they have recommenced the building works. I made my way back to bed and slept late while cat reappeared and recommenced his shrills. Making my way out this morning, somewhat disheleved and bleary-eyed, cat was sitting on the stone steps. He eyed me while I eyed him and started his song again. He appeared quite fat and well. A striped tabby with piercing green eyes. I'm beginning to dislike him because he believes that we all want to hear his song. He's no Sinatra. Later on I saw him dangling on the high wall to the house next door, tail wagging, kissing a ginger feline. If he wakes me up tonight...

And then back to Zach. I had waited months before I posted yesterday, in the belief that it's better not to write anything good, just in case that something bad would happen. I suppose that's called reverse superstition, or something. It's like the two-steps forward, one-step back. Only here it's maybe one-step forward and two-steps back.

All the time that Zach had been away, communication was always difficult. He's not the greatest with technology, having buried countless pcs over the years - usually ones that I passed on to him and even one that I had (foolishly) paid off for so that he would be able to at least send emails. Recently he had been reliant on other people or internet shops. Our messages would be short, if they were sent, or nothing at all. We could speak by phone (expensive) but he was unable to receive text messages (infuriating.) This was rectified two weeks ago when he purchased a new pc. Emails! Skype! Messaging! How marvelous it all was. Ah, but that doesn't take into consideration the frailties of the human: water.

Thus fear entered the soul and who knows what fall-out will ensue. Hopefully nothing. But keep reading.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Dumping 'H' and seeking sobriety

I know. It's been a long time and I didn't realise how many people read my blog. Of course the problem is because people read and don't comment, it's pretty much impossible to know whether my words simply vanish into the ether. There's a visitor count at the bottom of the page but it disappears and reappears at random, so, like newsprint, it's difficult to believe it! But I'm back. If you're interested.

I remember when I first had my book published that someone I knew told me that she couldn't recommend it because it 'didn't have a happy ending.' I think that at the time I wrote about that remark here in my blog. As far as I know, life itself doesn't have a particularly 'happy' ending. We either get eaten by the insects while we decompose, or get burned to a crisp. Of course there's water stuff, but that's less common. So what's a 'happy ending?' When does what appear to be a daily tragedy turn into elation? Who can compare what is one person's happiness to another's? It's all quite relative, isn't it?

I'm onto the theme of 'happy endings' because there is some good news. In fact, it's news that two or three years ago I would not have thought possible. I still have to pinch myself when I consider it and I touch wood, avoid ladders, won't step on cracked pavements and go 'peh, peh, peh...' when I think about it but Zach appears to have turned a major corner.

I have a friend who told me that once Zach reached into his thirties, then he would finally adopt adulthood and change his modus vivendi and reattach himself to the real world. Whether the real world is worth it, is a moot point. However, it seems as though he has. That is, he's back among the 'living.'

Zach knew that existing where he was in the area that he was living was bad news. He therefore took himself away from his day-to-day life that hitched itself to looking for the next narcotic hit and fumbling to remain alive. He dumped the dealers and the hangers-on and pitched himself into sunlight and heat and sobriety. No more heroin. No more cannabis. The cigarettes are a part of his history and even now, so is the booze.

Are you interested?

To be continued.