It's been a goodly while, since I've ventured up to the school gates:
Not so long ago, I was a regular; A desperado, a loner; a woman on the edge- of society, that is, and not able to see my way to breaking into the hostile-looking clusters, scattered around the yard, waiting for Bea, Henry and Lotte to finish school.
It was not their fault, I realise now- A happier woman ,am I, knowing I was never destined to fit in with a posseof polo shirts, or the chava chums, so, somewhere in between, for years I stood- wallflower of the dance, eager to fit in, to see the circle open, to embrace me, yet always deflated, rejected, returning home without my playdate confirmed.
A little exaggerated, yes, I'd sometimes bribe women to have cups of tea with me- by kidnapping their children, and forcing a social interraction.:
'Speak to me; I've been on my own all day.'
So it went:
The self-torture, the feelings of insecurity lack of self-worth- I revelled in it!
Oh, how I longed for a subscription to 'Boden', wished my life involved more lunches. The more I whipped myself; flayed the skin from my bones, unable to recognise neither a character from 'Hollyoaks' or a Chanel accessory, the further I prostrated myself at the feet of a bunch of females maddened only slightly less by motherhood, than I was, myself.
What posessed this working mother of two? What poison altered her thinking so? Why did it take so long to wean myself from this strange humiliating ritual?
I actually had very little; Very, very little, in common with anyone else, save childbirth.
Severed, now- this chord. My babies past their first flush of academia; the skip merrily, on their way, in the mornings; Their road-sense assured; their image positively devalued by me being at their side.
Remember when it was not so? Remember the flush of pleasure as a little hand sought your own? As you re-buttoned a tiny coat? or shrieked, 'The Car!!!' on that daily jaunt, toward First School.
These days, I can successfully spend entire days without crossing the boundaries of the property, and look back at my regular constitutionals with the same regard my own experiences of school- some content being fun, of interest- sentimentally, too, of value- but mostly just somewhere else to go, in order to be glad about getting back home.
Aah, I see. Doomed to leap into the wheel, again, till she has learned her lessons properly- So, what, Dear Sarah, have you learned, today, at school?
1. Nobody has to like you, and in turn, you don't have to like every body.
2. The answers aren't out there- and nobody else is going to do it better than you.
3.There are rules, but they aren't the ones written on the poster in the classroom.
4. you might as well have a laugh, while you're on.
In the Summer, I celebrated. I clinked, not a few, glasses to the end of my term (never mind the kids!). Feeling like I'd got through something.
I have admitted, since, that no one made me linger, attempt conversation, invite folk for tea- I brought it on myself- for what? For the learning of my valuable lessons?
5. You are fine. You don't need anyone's approval (mostly- I am an artist, and reserve the right to bathe in adoration!)
6. You are fine. Now get on with it.
7. Everyone has got their own s**t. it is just that you forgive some folk theirs because you like them.- (that's one for just me!- make up your own mind)
I'm over this now, like a bad boyfriend- that strange addiction to pain. I'm over it. ('But I saw him on the street, today- he was with another woman...') I will acknowledge a longing, though, to be included in a social group- get a thrill at receiving an invitation, feeling liked, worthy; Even though I know my way of life, my standards and my mythology to be a world away, from this group, whose common denominator is having reproduced offspring.
Does it appear perculiar? Weak? Laughable? That a soul can be cast adrift on such territory? That someone gifted, one might say, with creative tendancies, floundered out there, rather than seeking solace in texture, colour and balance- almost flouting an opportunity to shine, for the sublime moment of being complimented for her sticky toffee pudding..?
I was standing on the dunes, late this afternoon, holding on to a piece of board with one hand, making a thick slick of oil paint, across it's surface.
The wind blew. My fingers were pink, and sore with cold.
The sea boiled.
It was definitely worth the wait.