Friday, 17 August 2012

Warriors, settlers and nomads

Do you have those people in your world you don't see very often, but when you do, you have a glimpse into a whole different way you could have lived your life, and you think, How I miss this person! What worlds they could show me! Why aren't they in my life more than once a year?

That is Oo. I see her only once a year. Then I wish Oo lived properly here in England, and not as she does, far away in Dubai. Once a year she leaves the Middle Eastern heat of the sun to come breathe our cool English summer air, filled with diesel fumes and drizzle, and catch up, in one day, with me.

When I see Oo, I know she is a kindred spirit, and I know her from, oh, I don't know, maybe two million years ago, or from the age of the dinosaurs. I probably met her when she was clobbering a Velociraptor to death while I pondered on the usefulness of a sharp stick. Oo, in other words, doesn't faff about like Grit. She is a woman of action, and don't get on the wrong side of her because she still has the club. But somehow she is very enriching to Grit: I am easily led and she is filled with good ideas for distraction.

So today is going to be perfect: I can escape all predictable duties of cooking and kids, and meet her as quick as I can, at Euston. We'll spend the hours making all the dreadful business of life suit our advantage: we'll enjoy turning into our mothers, anticipate the thrill of revenge when we die in wordless accusation with perfect martyrdom; and imagine the hundred different lives to lead after the duty of motherhood is over.

Well I wish she could stay here, in England, all year long. We start our day's high ambitions with art at the Royal Academy, then slip down to Horse Guards Parade to ogle young men, before finishing the afternoon lounging in boho cafes threading away from the Southbank, discussing who we are made by circumstance, place, and years: warriors, settlers, or nomads?

Nomad, definitely. But I have that other life; I must be the responsible woman who returns humbly home to fret after three kids.

I console myself with distant fantasies. Somewhere in the future, I'll see Oo for longer than one day, and we'll engage in all manners of unwise enterprise. We'll start off, we two unrepentant ladies, nomad and warrior, beginning from the South and crawling down from there; I resolve, I'll not come home until three days have passed, when no-one ought to ask me where I've been, nor what I've done.

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