"gradually I've come to realise that my house is haunted by the ghost of a dead astronaut"

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

42. Remember, Whispers of Cold Can’t Hurt You

 
"At night I imagine the cold breeze swirling in this house’s cold gut, and the breeze growing plump as it feasts on the coldness of the house and its cold history. I imagine it pushing against the walls, forcing them to bulge as the house relents to this frozen force that growls and whimpers within it"

There are times, usually at night, when the cold of this winter encircles Mordan House, its teeth eating away at the stone façade, gnawing the wooden window frames and the slate roof, making holes for itself to push through. Once inside, it scurries through the passageways, charges into empty rooms, tumbles noiselessly down the stairs in search of the history of the house that was never actually a home. Looking also for a cold companion to cuddle up to.

Cold winds love history; history is cold like itself. History is as shallow as palimpsest, as fragile as a child’s cough. And this house's history is colder than most. What love has it ever known? What arms have welcomed it? What plans have been made with hope and joy? What kisses has it witnessed to warm it through and through? What hurt has it seen to make it knowledgeable, so it can learn how love stretches in and out of all feelings, no matter the colour? What new life has gladdened its walls and revitalised its shape? None, none, none.

The bitter cold is drawn to Mordan House, I think. Why would it not be? What is colder, more lifeless, greater in pointlessness, sadder, deader than here? At night I imagine the cold breeze swirling in this house’s cold gut, and the breeze growing plump as it feasts on the coldness of the house and its cold history. I imagine it pushing against the walls, forcing them to bulge as the house relents to this frozen force that growls and whimpers within it.

Of course the cold pushes against my door, that icy muzzle trying to force its way in. But these days I  barricade my door with cushions to keep the cold at bay. So all that gets through are little whispers of cold. And I remind myself, whispers of cold can't hurt me. Nor can its whiskers. Nor can its whimperings and its growls.

My rooms. My rooms. In here, I work to kill my own history, and the only thing that destroys history is newness: the grand scheme that's begun with an arm raised ready to put it into action; or the innovation of love as its charmed and magical mechanism just begins to turn; or the energy of an expectant moment, like that instant just before lips connect in a kiss. Just so. Just so.

"Of course the cold pushes against my door, that icy muzzle trying to force its way in. But these days I  barricade my door with cushions to keep the cold at bay. So all that's gets through are little whispers of cold. And I remind myself, whispers of cold can't hurt me. Nor can its whiskers. Nor can its whimperings and its growls"

I know the meaning of the cold and I know what it wants from me. As I sleep, I hear its whimpers of frustration and its whispers that ask to be let in. And I do everything I can to dream warm dreams of James, because I know that it’s that or death.

There is, I know, so much pointlessness in dreaming about a man I've only seen twice and spoken to once. And a man who knits, for Christ's sake. But women, I've found, have the ability to love the way God must love. To appear to be eternally non-present from the lover - even through the entirety of that person's lifetime - but still to cloak the lover with love through every moment of every day of every year. The only question is: does God feel the frustration, the inner conflict, the sickness of the absence that we have from Him, the way women do with men? The way I do now? Love, it seems, is like alcohol. Drinking it is easy; it's keeping it in your stomach that can often be difficult.

What's changing in me? Something is.

"Love, it seems, is like alcohol. Drinking it is easy; it's keeping it in your stomach that can often be difficult"

I feel the need to speak to a person. To look, to listen, to respond, to be heard. To feel the tension of conversation - the coming together, the pulling apart, the mystery, the revelation of it all. Just for the beauty of it too. It doesn't have to be James that I speak to. No, just someone. After all, there are so many questions to the mystery of Mordan House that are potentially just a conversation away, and they won't be solved in libraries and basements and through soul-searching, or online. I've felt so distant from people and so reluctant to present myself before them in anything more than a perfunctory and accidental way. It's all part of the promise I made to myself whan I moved into this ramshackle, windswept wreck of a place. But that promise has been unravelling from the moment I arrived at the door of this house, it seems.

Yet if I speak to someone, who should I speak to? A stranger? Or someone I know?

I tell myself that I don't need to have any fear. What does it matter what people say to me? To my face or whispered behind my back.

I must remember at all times that whispers of cold can't hurt me. No, they cannot hurt me.

15 comments:

Eva said...

I love how you compare love and drinking because it is hard to keep down. Such a good analogy. Also, I think you're right about women loving like God. Sometimes I wish I didn't. This was an incredibly vivid piece.

Stephanie Fey said...

Thank you, Eva. Yes, it's hard being divine, isn't it!

Steph x

logankstewart said...

Another excellent post. Your description of the cold had me shivering a chill in my cool office.

And you taught me a new word: palimpsest.

Great, tragic, pondering post today, Steph.

Stephanie Fey said...

Yes, where was my head today, Logan? In a dark, cold place, for sure. I'll see what I can do to raise the temperature for you in the future. Hope the world of engineering is treating you well and keeping you out of the cold.If not, I apologise for lowering the temperature even further!

I think 'palimpsest' is a beautiful word - and a word ripe to be used as a metaphor for so many things.

As always, thanks for your kindness and generosity, Logan.

Steph x

Nevine said...

Speak, Steph! And I don't think it matters in the least who you speak to, as long as you speak. When our voices remain trapped inside, we eventually suffer from an overflow, and that hurts.

The cold in Mordan House is the cold inside you that needs the human touch to warm it. Invite somebody inside, and sit with them and just let the words roll off of your tongue.

Nevine

Stephanie Fey said...

Okay, Nevine, okay. Let's get on working towards doing that very thing, shall we? Let's see where that will take me.

Steph x

onceuponasunflower said...

It sounds to me like the situation requires a more complicated solution than Nevine suggests.

I find it easier to talk to strangers sometimes, hence why I blog.

Stephanie Fey said...

Well, how about I do both: continue blogging but try talk to someone too? What's that old song? 'Torn between two lovers, feeling like a fool'?

Here's my dilemma though, and it's not about my circumstance: how should I refer to you? Onceuponasunflower is lovely but if I want to shorten it: onceupon or sunflower or ponasun? I like ponasun. Until you tell me you hate it, ponasun it is!

Steph x

Secretia said...

Stephanie, there is a lot of wosdom in your words today, here and on my blog. Love is like alcohol, drinking it is is easy.

Thank You,
Secretia

The romantic query letter and the happy-ever-after said...

I haven't forsaken you but I've been at ends with latest manuscript.
Take care and I hope to be back very soon to read.
All my very best,
Simone

Stephanie Fey said...

Lovely to hear from you as ever, Secretia. Thank you. And Simone, don't worry I think we probably all fall a bit behind with our follows. Never any harm done from my side. Thank you very much for being so lovely as to stop by and say hi.

Steph x

Disaster girl said...

Thank you for your kind words on my post! Your blog is amazing & I can't wait to get all caught up on your story!

Stephanie Fey said...

Hey DG. Thanks for stopping by my draughty, dilapidated, ghost-ridden home! You should come live here - you would definitely want to get out more! Looking forward to keeping up with your world. Be strong!

Steph x

AVY said...

haunting picture.

Stephanie Fey said...

Yes, Avy. Amazing what you can do with an old sheet and a convector heater! x