Monday, 31 March 2008

Lost Dreams

This has been the worst day in a long, long time. I have just split up with someone I love completely.

Everyone who knows the two of us says we're great together, that we seem really happy. He's respectful, kind, generous, warm, loyal. He is uncomplicated; no strange undercurrents. Genuine. What You See Is What You Get. Someone you could rely on in a storm. A good guy, would help someone out if he could. He has old school values, in that he would urge people to do the right thing in any given situation and he looks for a solution that benefits everyone.

He is a man with a dream. He wants to sail a boat around the world. He's already got the boat. He is still paying it off and except for this Winter when he spent most of his time at mine, he was living in it. In a boatyard. In dry dock.

I would have gone on that adventure with him when he left. We'd have cracked a bottle of champagne at the launch party and played lots of songs like 'Sailing Away' and 'Ship to Shore' and 'Message in a Bottle' and lots of pirate songs. Then we'd have sailed off together and explored the world. It would be the trip of a lifetime, stopping at all sorts of strange ports and inlets, meeting people, tasting strange food and seeing strange sights. We'd have drifted along happily, tanning well and searching the world for a place to explore and settle. Then, we would have had many children and they would all grow up to be tanned and tall and we would all be very happy together.

Well, at least, that's how I saw it. But of course, it's his dream and although he was pleased to have a lovely lady like myself in his life, he hadn't envisioned any sprogs.
Ok, so I'm 30 this year and I hope I've got perhaps ten childbearing years left. So how long will the boat adventure take? We're looking at 4-8 years before we can set sail and who knows how long the adventure itself will take? I suddenly realised that I had to know if he was prepared to even consider kids. After 3 days of hell, he said, clearly, calmly and reasonably: no, he would not have children with me.

He says that he's wanted to sail around the world for as long as he can remember. I wouldn't dream of trying to stop that. In fact, I would actively encourage for him to pursure that, if that's what makes him happy. I would have come along for the adventure just because I love him and I think we'd make a great team.

But then I have my own dream - and it's fairly ordinary.
I always knew I'd be a mother one day. I knew that as a woman, I was capable of being pregnant and giving birth. The human body is amazing. The woman's internal organs shift up to make room for the baby to grow inside her womb. The baby grows inside, unseen yet slowly making its presence known. The baby's head squishes up to make its way out of the birth canal. After birth, the placenta is born too and some people eat this - perhaps the only semi-acceptable opportunity to be a cannibal. The mother produces milk for the baby and it provides everything the baby needs nutritionally and even contains antibodies that protects the baby from disease.

I have always known the importance of a man in such a relationship, who's duty is to love and protect his family when the baby is small and as the child gets older and is ready to be introduced to the wider world, he can lead the way.

I could never imagine being a single mum. I could never imagine being a career woman who choses work over family. In nearly a decade of care work and counselling, I have spent time looking after people and meeting their needs. I want to put those skills to good work on someone I really care about. I want to create a new family. It's common enough, but still one of the greatest adventures. I can't accept the idea of not having that. It was with huge sadness that I have to speak my truth - that without the possibility of children, it's over.

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

4 Kinds of Cloud

It's been a long night.

Technically, it's daytime now, but my body clock has gone into another dimension. For me, the sight of bright sunshine is surreal. Earlier, coming back from the hospital, I nearly swerved into a parked car, but I felt calm and peaceful. I had one of those peak moments where I felt like I'd really been present to something special. I wondered if anyone else in the city had seen what I had: that there were four types of cloud in the sky.

One was airy cirrhus, a horse-tail flick so high up that no one could touch it. Below that was a neat, light formation of clouds that looked like the ridge and furrows of a freshly ploughed field. Below that, were cumulous clouds, fat cauliflower heads, looked full and comfortable. And last of all , there was a fine, even, unformed cloud like a breath that appeared to be gaining strength, bit by bit.

The weather recently has been strange: where I live had experienced the lowest air pressure for 50 years which drew in some mighty storms - 80 m.p.h winds, flooding and wild waves along coastal areas. Somehow, looking at those clouds, I felt as though I was seeing the aftermath to all that - the breakthrough that comes after stormy times.

You've got to understand that before the glory of the clouds, I'd had a terrible night's work. It's a Sleep In, so you're supposed to be able to sleep - though ,occasionally if someone is anxious or unwell, you might need to work for a bit of the night.

The client I was supporting had the worst kind of diarrhoea - pure liquid shit - and it was splattered on carpet, floor, round the toilet, in clothing, down her leg and back, in her bedding and on the sofa. The foul stench thickened the air and made me heave.

The worst thing was that we didn't have enough gloves (one red rubber left-handed glove and some ancient vinyl gloves that split as we tried to put them on). Also, she'd used up a whole roll of toilet tissue, so had nothing left to wipe herself. It was 3am and I had no idea where might be open to sell us rubber gloves and toilet paper. Even with this, she would have nothing to wear and no bed linen.

Eventually, after a few heated phone calls, we were able to get some help.

With the right tools, we could set to work on getting her and anywhere she'd come near cleaned up. Windows were opened and the smell was disguised with air freshener, the sweetness of vanilla making the job bearable. The only thing we couldn't manage was to scrub the carpets, but I tried not to think about that. My boss could figure something out in the next day or so. I'd done my share.

I was shattered.

I went home to learn that my housemate had suffered 2 seizures, gone into hospital and had one more. She needed a change of clothes, so I headed up to the hospital. I was relieved to see that she was doing okay. It was on the way back that I noticed the bright sky and four kinds of cloud; the sorts of clouds that come after a storm.

Funny how after the darkest hour, we can still be struck by beauty and light and promise of new things.