Well well well!
It’s all done. All over.
I cycled to the university, handed in a set of papers I’d spent an inordinate amount of time writing, editing, proofing, checking, to a pale faced blonde girl behind a desk, in a room surprisingly warm for its size.
I had good intentions after that. My jumpers are fraying at the cuffs, my jeans torn at the back and stained black from my bicycle, my shirts (the few I have) are too small. So I figured shopping was on the cards. I was in Norwich – I might as well make use of the fact I was there. But I couldn’t.
It was a Wednesday, and it was busy. There were suits, punks, plastics, bangles, hats, scarves, all bustling – pressing up – bundled in between the walls of Tesco’s and Marks & Spencer’s, Waterstones and McDonalds. I licked my lips and tasted them on my skin. The sun beat down; baking us together into a cakey mass. We pressed up against shop fronts and rose, rose, floor to floor to floor to floor to floor until we hit the air above – freshness. The wind moves.
I opened my mouth and limbs tumbled in. All the limbs. All the bags, all the cheap tat from the souvenir shop, disposable coffee cups dancing familiar circles on the street, fag butts, hair extensions, hands and fingers twisting in my cheeks because the streets were heaving. Our feet – together heavy – shook the pavement. Our breath steamed up the bus.
I walked the streets like eyes in a handbag. Tertiary. Unknowning. Shorn of my legs (which seemed to move of their own accord). The world had fallen from me into paper, poems, commentaries, bibliographies, footnotes. People pushed and pulled. Teased my skin with stray glances. ‘Hey’s’ of ‘Hayden’. I look back for the voice. A voice. Lost in clothes, lights, clippty-clop mall floors and electric bills.
Such weird pressures. Fleshes itching in designer shoes. Sweating. Clogged up cholesterol outside Starbucks. Heart attacks in Subway. But smiles, too. Gestures with hands. Quiet mumbles. Soft laughs and pats, friendly kicks, the sharing of chips. Observing a pigeon navigating human traffic; a pigeon in pigeons. A familiar face – a handshake – children chasing one another. The sun through leaves.
I went home on a train. Watched the broads go by with a cup of tea. My seat was so big I could have slept in it and I felt myself settling in. I could feel it behind me, the cool table leg through my jeans, the air rushing through the window. It was all there in front, behind, beside me.
No clothes, no shopping, but here I was. Home.