In the Round by David Roberts
Well here we are another year and older again aren't we all. So quickly now (they pass it) it seems they pass and here I am surprised at/to be writing this letter//It seems to me they pass more quickly each time, the days so full and barely sitting down before the next one begins, and here I am with it feeling like only yesterday that I was letting you know of last year's news. That it is four years since they have all been at school even now surprises me (at times).
They continue to do well there. Christopher is starting to think about what subjects he will be taking at GCSE and seems quite set on/excited by the prospect of dropping French. He is growing at a rate of knots and will soon enough be taller than his father. Helen has got very good reports and is already thinking of her future. We tell her that she is too young for all that (but will she listen) and hopefully she does listen. Michael spent much of the year obsessing about carnivorous plants but seems now to have moved on. It was the mantis shrimp two weeks ago and already that appears to be giving way to hawk moths? taxidermy? megafauna? Who knows what will become of it all.
Who really knows what will become of it all. I think it was only after Michael was born that Sinclair abandoned/accepted/realised that he (might not be able to) was unlikely ever to plant a flag at the South Pole or work as lighthouse keeper. And what of them, their dreams, our dreams for them. Of course we want the best for them but who am I to say what that best might be? It is through them that I suppose we can still dream. And who knows what will become of that, their dreams. No doubt they will at times drink liquor like molten metal but whether they will come to live lives like liquor like molten metal is really up to them. We try to set an example and can you do much more than that?
When people say I wish I'd known then what I know now etc.; I understand but; I'm not sure what it is that I know really - I know myself better, know Sinclair (and am pleased that he is the man that I married) and feel like I know the kids. I know my desires (know what it is I think about i.e. material desire), know what I think is right and wrong; but always my mind is susceptible, open to change; I could not say definitively what if anything I have learnt, perhaps my priorities - although what beyond the family that might be - for my own part I have enjoyed getting older/of course it is no great statement to say we each have one life only but…. You do your best with what you're given and is there more than that that can really be done?
(Big) news from the village is that The village remains much the same although we have recently learnt that our nearest shop is likely to be shutting in the new year. The present owners are moving away and it looks like it will be converted into housing. Of course there is demand for that with building work all here and there but after the florist's last year it will be two in two. It is a nice community and to think we have been here six years already but we sometimes joke about how long it would take to be accepted by some of the diehards. Maybe by the time the children have children of their own. The summer fair was good this year and there have recently been new goal posts put up in the park.
We went to the Pyrenees again in the school holidays. It is a lot of driving but worth it when you're there. A big storm blew through one night with hailstones the size of actual marbles. Some of the French had fortunately brought spades with them and everyone joined in to dig trenches round the tents. One or two (on the campsite) were quite badly damaged/ripped but we were quite lucky in that the weather didn't stay like that for too long. Would have been a total washout had it done. One day we walked to the Spanish border and the children wanted to see how many times they could cross over, how many times they could visit Spain in one day. They were well into double figures before we called a halt to it. While all three have their moments they do keep us amused/entertained/exasperated sometimes. We saw a golden eagle which everyone enjoyed.
Of course it is no great statement to say we each have one life only but for my own part/now that I am well into it/tick steadily along (?) I do wonder sometimes what might perhaps have been. To think when we first met (first our eyes met)/he asked/we went back from the pub together. To think even back to our wedding day, honeymoon night that it would come to this/all this was to come culminate, this which still keeps growing. Nobody cares. The poet Wallace Stevens says that it can never be satisfied, the mind. I cannot remember how first I came across it, the poem, but do remember that it was the title that first attracted to me to it. The Well Dressed Man with the Beard. Something about that tickled me. When Sinclair came home from work I used to greet him with it until the time he set fire to his tie when we were first married.
To think of it that winter just married and moved into our first house; the heating going and us with no money then spare to fix it/to think we have come from that; two months it seemed like with breath in the mornings and the evenings clarifying (like butter) amongst the air. Those months of it raining and damp/the layers we'd put on and all the knitting I did for him and us, so that we might retain the dignity of not having to wear our coats inside, bring raindrops into the house.
They are limbs of me. To separate the person from the emotion to separate the emotion from the person the event to separate I wonder is it, might it even be// to separate emotion from emotion, unpick detach. When I think of me do I think of me anymore when last did I, think of that, me myself, when last did I (put myself first) differentiate. Those Russian dolls, the beauty of them. For me it is not contained in each alone but due somehow to it being the case that - even when apart - the form or presence of the others, the intimacy of their relationship, seems contained in each individually. That they are more than just themselves (with/because of) the others around them.
But no it cannot be, the mind it can never be satisfied. Now in these afternoons with them at school the three of them I do wonder, what will be. With their posters and the bluetac sullying the walls I do wonder. Because even if it could be/if I had the choice would I wind them back and keep them at two, three, four - even if I was guaranteed better sleep would I? Than this, their choices ahead (of them). Of course we want the best for them but what will constitute that best is for them not me to say. That they might live lives like liquor like molten metal excites/terrifies me together. As long as they are, as long as they. Happy/mainly happy/content (mostly). Looking back it seems so, so (???) but at the time it was, we were starting out together and it was just what had to be/I don't think I even thought of it as/did I think of it, that time then and breath seeming solid enough to cut, the knitting of the jumpers and the two of us warm with each other/did I even think/it was just what marriage was. I knew it would not last for ever and you do don't you, you try and do the best with what you're given. We will most likely make it to the Pyrenees again this summer.