Saturday, 11 February 2012

Extreminism I

My mother was an extreminist.  I loved her with a passion and a faithfulness that continues to characterise my kindred friendships.

She was awe-inspiring, in both the 'breathless wonderment of coming across a sudden stunning vista' meaning of the term and in the 'fear god' version.  Her acts were undertaken with childlike simplicity and a godly force - this is how it is, it can be no other way.  All consuming, she bundled the world up in an enthusiastic burst of direction and joie de vie or engaged them in deep, darkly political banter; she laughed long and loud, drank and danced as though this night, this party were the forever of the universe.  She had as many ideas as the tribes of Abraham, counted in stars, and would talk to the finest spun detail of each new notion so as a child I would surf the waves of every possibility only to come crashing on the unsuspected rocks of realisation that her words were not stone, and paved no concrete path to anywhere.  Castles in the sky, fairy tales and a wonderland of words were enough for her.  Mostly.  She never bemoaned the lack of materialisation of her dreams, well trained in her own youth I suspect to enjoy the fantasy for its own worth.

Which is not to say she was unhappy.  Far from it.  She had all the things she wanted in her life which amounted to my dad and 'the girls' and enough credit (mostly) to indulge (at appropriate intervals) in good food, wine, cigarettes, clothes, dogs, day trips out and sometimes even sunshiny holidays.  She loved to travel and she loved to move and make home.

Which is not to say she was never unhappy.  Passion cuts both ways and extreminism is terrifying.  When my parents argued all her quick-witted wordy cleverness came to the cutting fore.  Doors slammed.  Threats were issued and at times acted upon, my mother dramatically announcing her departure by the front door, pausing Pinter-esque, for my father to come down from his tower of anger and sweep her up into his arms like some romantic hero warrior, declaring her his most wonderful and wanted princess, and, when he did no such thing, slamming out of the house, her rage shaking our foundations.

I have stood in front of my father begging him to go after her.  I have stood in front of my mother begging her to take me with her.  Neither monolith moved, my pebble words barely scratching the glass of their flaming eyes.

Later, she would return, having walked until she was too tired to walk anymore and my dad, secretly relieved I think, would let the argument go.  They would touch, hug, kiss - gently, tentatively - have a cup of coffee and a cigarette and talk quietly about small nothingnesses until it became night.

We don't want to become our parents.  We are always the next generation and seek unconsciously to evolve, to grow from.  Though I loved her, I also hated her and feared being tainted by her psychosis, her volatility.  I sought always to analyse, to reflect, to consider the world from every angle before committing myself to an opinion.  I looked to create calm and stability, to soothe and to make dreams come true for the dreamers in my life, that they may never know the disappointment of waking without fairy-dust having worked its magic.

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