KOOL-AID: a crying shame

Another instalment of Almost Drank The Kool-Aid…

Have always been clumsy. Mum used to apologise. I got that trait from her, apparently.

“Dad” used to make fun of my clumsiness, too. Yet he could never understand how I could be so clumsy in normal life, yet the moment I stepped out onto the field, I turned into something of a swan.

Was the only thing my dad liked about me, I think. The fact that I had a gift when it came to the game he loved.

Is no wonder he soon despised me when I gave it up.

My clumsiness has left me with a number of scars over the years. But some of the scars I bear are not from clumsiness. Is probably why Gruff took all the knives out of the cottage the day I moved in.

But clumsy, yes. Have ended up in hospital not once but twice due to concussions. The first time was falling on the pavement at Camden. The second, falling over a tree stump during one of our weekend country getaways.

Back in the days when I had money to adorn self in jewellery, I’d have to take my rings to the jewellers twice yearly to have the stones replaced, due to frequently knocking hands against door frames. So should not have been surprised to fall into pond yesterday.

Not one of my best moments.

To be honest, if was not for Landlord, I probably would be dead. (Definitely no histrionics in that statement).

I should explain — the bridge spanning the stream in the woods has no railing. And so I slipped.

That water, is ice cold. Like being stung by a thousand bees.

But not deep. If stood, the water would come up to my knees.

Something happened, though. Was under water, fully conscious of what was happening to me. Time was all a bit slow, though. Seemed to have a lot of time to think.

I was there, under water, and I had the thought — why should I bother getting up?

And I tell you, it was the most peaceful of feelings.

A lot of you will be absolutely disgusted by that thought. Life is the most important thing, blah, blah, blah, but you don’t know.

Because it has been so, so hard; living. Have been fighting for a very long time. Even when was not fighting, I was fighting.

In that moment was just very, very tired. Extremely so.

In my mind, there was no point to it any way. No one to care for me. No one to care about. No purpose. No desire. Thought to self — when I think about it, is it not a waste for me to live?

So decided not to raise head above water. Even when chest started to burn from lack of oxygen, and head started to ache. Could not escape it any more. My body fought, and I opened my mouth. As water filled my lungs was both terrified and happy. This was it. This was the end.

Next thing I know there was a splashing near by and arms reaching out to drag me from the pond.

It was the landlord. Was limp as he dragged me to the banks. Was dumped unceremoniously on the ground. Coughed ad spluttered the water I had swallowed. Felt very sad about it all. Began to cry a little.

Landlord very, very angry. Started to yell at me.

‘What the hell do you think you’re doing? You could have died!’

Yes, was point.

Couldn’t argue with him. Was not left to dwell on the events. Landlord was pulling me up. He must have been cold; his hands were shaking.

‘Get up,’ he urged, even though was in standing position. ‘Need to get you dry before you die of hyperthermia.’

Dramatic, yes, but had to let Landlord have his moment. He was so angry!

Dragged me along, but not towards cottage. Trees cleared as we walked up the incline. We were met with a gravel drive and beyond that a very large, very grand house.

Is the type of thing you see in Jane Austen Movies. The types of homes you expect people with titles to own.

Realised, as Landlord dragged me along, that was not being forced, really. Actually, not even being dragged. More like guided.

Was taken through front door by silent Landlord into grand entrance — staircase, black and white marble flooring, floor-to-ceiling windows, chandelier — that kind of thing.

To the back of the staircase was a door. Landlord opened it. Was not led to kitchen, dead ahead, but along the corridor to the left.

The longest corridor ever. Longer than a cricket pitch, certainly. Right at the end I could see a wood-panelled room, probably a study. But was not taken there either. Instead was taken into a bedroom which had an ensuite bathroom.

‘There’s towels in there. Will get you a change of clothes. Get in the shower before you catch a cold and I’ll do the same.’

So obliged. Was the loveliest of showers, I must say. An entire bathroom of marble if you can believe it. So was probably there a long while. And the toiletries — no luxe and Palmolive — but some expensive, fancy brand which would probably cost at least fifty quid.

Was certainly luxurious enough to get me out of my momentary slump. Then the shame started.

What was I thinking? May not have anything to live for but does not mean I have anything to die for.

But life is made up of moments. Moments of weakness. Moments of despair. Sometimes, if you are lucky; moments of joy. But those are so very fleeting. Rare. Is in no wonder I gave in to that moment? Just a moment. A moment which could have been death.

Resolved to how close I had come and hoping to never get close again, I left the shower, wrapping myself in the large sheet-like towel.

Entered the bedroom just as Landlord did, holding a pile of clothes. He paused when he saw me; stationary in the doorway. I paused, too.

‘I have dry clothes for you. I’ll take yours now to wash. When you’re dressed you can come into the kitchen and dry your hair by the fire.’

Everything said in such monotone. Could hardly look at me when he spoke. Felt retched. Most of all because he didn’t understand.

He had already showered and changed, departing the room with a fresh linen-y scent.

Changed quickly, feeling slightly uncomfortable. Not because was putting on another man’s clothing, but because I wasn’t wearing underwear. I rarely spend any time without them. If it wasn’t for fear of being unclean, and having nether regions being in a permanently moist (oh, that word!) state, I would wear undies all the time, even when showering.

Track pants were long in the legs but tight around the rear. The t-shirt and jumper were tight, too; flattening my breasts like a pancake. Is probably a good thing I no longer care about my appearance.

Took towel and padded to the kitchen. A large, welcoming space. A proper country kitchen. To the left of the room, the utility area of the kitchen. A large Aga took pride of place under a large copper vent. In the middle island, a modern cooker placed above a modern oven. There was a large butlers sink cut into the cabinetry. The kind of kitchen I always dreamed of having. A beautiful space to call my own. Did have something close to it, in LA. But was all very American — white gleaming cabinets with black granite tops. I never felt at home there.

In the middle of the kitchen there was a scrubbed pine table and to the other side of that a couch and two armchairs set in front of an Inglenook fire, roaring with heat.

Landlord was at the kettle, making drinks. He looked at me, nodding towards the fire. Settled self in front of it and began towering hair; was was still wet through.

Landlord approached with two cups which he set on the coffee table. His hair and beard were still wet, and it was making him cold; his hands still shook.

He sat down in one of the armchairs, and gave me a look which was both sad and pitying, angry and compassionate. Such a strong, terrifying glare. I felt his disappointment. Didn’t need his disappointment. Was already disappointed enough in myself. And confused. And a myriad of other things.

Suppose it all got to me. Have been holding a lot of things in of late. Have been holding a lot of things in for years. Yet could never cry in front of them. Such a cliche, yes, but could never let them see me cry.

Suddenly needed it. The few tears which had escaped after being dragged out of pond were not enough.

And yet, I still could not cry in front of Landlord. Perhaps it is engrained in me to not cry in front of others. I guess I worry it makes me weak.

I got up, hurrying across the room, but not before a hiccup of tears escaped.

Had nowhere else to go but the bedroom. Or maybe I was being polite — had not been welcomed to any other part of Landlord’s home.

Collapsed on bed, crying harrowing tears. Fuck me, it felt good.

Why is crying such an issue, anyway? Why are we told is a sign of weakness? Why is emotion a sign of weakness?

Wonder if this is why women have not made strides in corporate world. One sign of emotion and they are laughed at, judged at for being “a woman.” For acting like “a woman.”

And if men cry? Then they’re given labels like “sissy.”

Is disgrace, really. Because crying is a natural part of life. crying is cathartic, really.

Certainly for me. Cried desperately. Cried for what had happened. Cried for the years I’d lost. For the love I’d lost. Cried for Landlord’s opinion of me.

At some point, after some time, the Landlord came into the room. Was facing away form the door, looking out the French window to the terrace, and the length of lawn beyond it.

Felt him sit on the bed. Close to me, closer than anyone’s been to me in a long while. At least on purpose anyway.

And then he laid a hand on me. Shuddered at the touch as always shudder at the touch of another. But he didn’t shy away. Left his hand there, on my arm. Waited while I cried.

‘Please don’t do that again,’ he said to me quietly. Not in a demanding manner.

Would have explained if had had my voice. Might have been a good time to find it. But you can’t pick and choose. Not that it mattered. Landlord then said — ‘I saw you fall. I saw that it was an accident. Yet you chose to stay in the water. You chose death.’

He paused then. Perhaps for effect. Perhaps to gather his thoughts. Whichever, it was difficult for him; his fingers dug ever so slightly into my arm. ‘Life is too important. You’ve only just started your life again — why give it up before you’ve had a chance to live?’

Did not need the lecture, no matter how greatly it was given. Landlord waited for another moment. And then he left.

Not sure how long I stayed in that room. Long enough that my tears dried and that dreaded crying headache formed behind my eyes. Quietly, I got up. I left the house through the fancy entrance hall and the fancy front doors.

A confusing, emotional day. Here I was thinking freedom would come the moment I left the church. Was foolish of me to not realise I’d still be imprisoned in my mind.

Have learnt one thing, though. Landlord is a very rich man.

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