I just got sent a picture of an ultrasound with a head in it.
There’s been a lot of death recently so I’m thrilled. Tomorrow I’m auditioning for a show that’s going to be about a man in the throes of denial of his own mortality. Friends have been losing parents, parents have been losing friends. For decades now I’ve had a good handle on the finality of death. I haven’t liked it but I’ve known his touch on those dear to me. I’ve looked him in the face a couple of times. I feel his work around me. In this town it’s hard to avoid encounters, on the roads or coming out of the house next door. In the river, over the bridges, in the parks. But so it goes.
A week ago I was shoveling shit into a trough. The stinking moldering wreck of something that was once living, hurled into a trough where it will become the spark that ignites new life. For ever, we go round and round. One spirit moves on, one spirit comes in. The cycle. The endless river.
A new life and not for want of trying. It has a head. But then the question – when is it truly alive? We know that question so well. It’s somehow managed to get tangled up in politics across the pond. It’s tricky and arbitrary to set a date on it. It has been there long enough for it to be officially okay to say it’s there to your friends. It has a head. When are we truly alive? And so too on the other side. When are we dead? Is it when we give up on life? Or is it when we stop moving? I’ve met plenty of dead people over the years, and some of them appear to be quite happy.
This headed thing will be alive and will be happy too, I should imagine. It’s lucky enough to have appeared in the existence of wonderful people this time round. Right now as it grows perhaps it knows more than us of where it has been before but soon it’ll just be part of the daily drive for food and shelter, with the optional extras like “Where’s my shirt,” and “I’m nervous.”
One in, one out, and it makes me happier still that I’m off to Jersey now to finally stop the ghost of my father screaming at me about what a ninny I’ve been for twenty years. I was a late arrival in his life, he was an early departure from mine. There’s a lot of crucial information that didn’t get imparted. I’m still playing catch-up, but only after deciding quite arbitrarily who I was going to be within the freedoms his life gave me, and being it quite loudly and perhaps a bit too selfishly for ages. I haven’t ushered one of these little lives into the world – quite the opposite – I’ve been fucking careful not to. But I’ve been alive along the way, and I fully intend to continue to be alive and more so as we switch back into being able to see each other. I will get to know this tiny human. We will be friends as I tumble to decrepitude.
For now though I’m going to go to a movement workshop tomorrow morning, which might be enough to kill me after months of apple crumble and beef pie. At ten fifteen I’ll probably be running on the spot or pretending I’m spaghetti boiling in the pot while trying to remember a speech about death from Shakespeare that I’ve never used as an audition speech before but which just … feels like it might be right… I expect I’ll be exhausted by noon. Here we go, back into the world.
Bed first. Mao is waiting.