Wednesday, June 12, 2013

continues, with apologies

Firefox didn't crash:  the computer did. I am surprised that the post was published as I was still writing it. I would like to edit my repetitions, but the computer I am on now is older and leaves blanks here and there.
We visited D once. The "home" that she was in was sometimes in the press because it was a praised innovation. Children were in cottages to create a homelike atmosphere. Ha. We could look through the windows - no one was allowed in the cottages during the day - and see the glowingly polished floor. The girls, woken at 6, polished it on hands and knees before breakfast. There was a boys' section.  D stared ahead and explained that it was to the left:  looking at or indicating the direction was punishable. She obviously lived with some fear. Her birthday was the day before mine, and I have thought of her then for over 60 years and hoped that her life went more kindly.
I went to the dentist by myself when I was ten. Every now and then he would clasp his hands under my armpits and run them down my body. I did not like this, but did not pass it on: it seemed a churlish whinge. Only later did I recognise it, and see the oddness in  that not only did he have daughters around my age, but one was in the class that my mother taught.  An unvetted piano teacher was a pleasant young man, with an odd lurching gait. An odd odour in his room I identified years later as sherry.
My grandmother's Queensland house was filled with her beautiful embroideries. My mother and she argued as to whether petunias were weeds, as she pulled them up and threw them away. Under the mosquito netting on my bed there was a toy rabbit with long , cuddly angora hair, which immediately caused me to bring to Gran's attention that it had been my birthday recently. Yes, he became mine.  Open French doors onto the verandah left us sleeping in the warm, sweet air: I fell in love with the tropics. Older, I went catching crabs and lobsters in the mangroves. Once, anyway.
A weekender in the Blue Mountains had heavy chains from house to earth.  Bush as far as you could see, range after range; drystone walls, wallabies that nibbled my father's  vegetables.  Walk and skip and sing along the dirt road during the daytime, but as dusk fell a presence grew in the bush. I felt unwelcome, out of place and always ended up running and frightened.
My mother raised chickens, kept a cow, sewed our clothes, knitted, made jams, preserved fruit, cooked all meals from scratch. She took up leatherwork and made us gloves and belts, and she did fine crochet. And she taught school, and read. She despised housewifery and passed on few of the arts to her daughters.  She would not wear an apron - a prison uniform to her -, but her decision not to wear a wedding ring seems more problematic.
House 4 was for my teenage years, though there were no such things as teenagers then.  I went to the convent high school.  Light came through tall yellow windows into the austere chapel, where the nuns sometimes prostrated themselves. I sang in the choir during a nun's profession and a priest's funeral: splendid.
The poet Bob Adamson tells how he used to catch and kill hairtail (fish) and watch their iridescent gleam dull and fade and hate himself for it.  My childhood was largely good, enriching and secure, but I think that I am not alone in feeling that something back then made my iridescence fade.


Elephant's Child said...

I am finding this a confronting and heart-hurting post. I am not sure why, but suspect that your final sentence holds the key.
Our irridescence, like butterfly wings is so easily damaged.
And yes, I join you in hoping that D found some comfort and ease in later years. Rather a lot of both.

Frances said...

I'm so sorry, EC. I do think that these are kinder days for most children now.

JahTeh said...

A fine post, Frances. I like your mother and her quiet rebellion and I didn't wear my wedding ring often until he left me. Since I had designed the rings I considered they were now mine alone.
Life might be kinder now but so much more complex.