In this salon of hope, a haze of beauty chemistry, ceiling smudges of aubergine musk vapour, tanlines for hair. We're getting all blown up into feathered crowns, jostled around in the faux leather, sweat sticky and spongy. The plink plop of blades dip into their green antiseptic bath, deft hands tilting, angling, securing necks and jugulars. From above, it's Whitney, crooning lost love and redemption, a yearning soundtrack for the familiars amongst us. We're all here, old people into new people, spritzed and varnished, leaving our dregs, our sheddings, a black wire carpet on the floor, to be swept away like shame.
The crows came today. Reclaiming their streets, all beaks and black, more silhouette than bird. Into bare branches they clambered and shoved. Go bushtail, flee greyback. Their cries echo back, colder, off our brick and plaster nests. Pinging the emptiness and disguised decay. The blade geometry of broken glass, ambulance stains, eroding paint scallops, a salt vein fissure. Cackling, they wait, knowing what comes next.
Crumbs were whole once. Connected and part of something made, something nurtured and purposeful. Now, all but small annoyances, these dreg reminders of what was, run hiding on the faintest breeze. Into corners and carpet tangles, sanding smooth broken edges, crumbs discarding memory, their momentum only gravity. We went our ways, north and east, but mainly south. My new app reminds me of that day. All rain and ominous, a stale inevitability over us. We needed a big fire that wet night, but even that didn’t catch.
A seepage of gas. An infiltration of science. Cool clinks of tiny steel, medicinal, stealthy. The stress hum of faxes and file folders. Very profesh, this panto. It's all just life support for dummies. These sculpted little kingdoms, hiding above the street behind their veneer doors. These little pretenders with their grown up sincerity and single serving coffee, aloft in ambition, making busytime look lifelike. Scrape me, bill me, let's share some synchronised chuckles over predictable memes. This anaesthetic fallacy is dulling, desensing, objectifying us all into boredom, formfitting, cinching us into our straightjacket of vanilla charm. Isn't this weather terrible?
I'm waking up a server in Australia to write this for you. Over miles these memories seep, through bedrock cold, past bone and history, shivering aside friction-worn dust of a billion lost loves. That's where you are now, you too soon and I too late. There under the recycling and the regret, slowfilling a volcano dormant from fury, I see the silver trails of our lives, those hesitant, curled and jittery reminder paths. Bold turns considered, shortcuts unravelled, but mostly rote walking between the lines, a GPS boredom. Blindly leading ourselves downhill, numbed and comforted with the familiar, a smear of forgotten years. This calendared path is where we are going next, birthday candlelit, inevitable tourists. Black to blinding, we're crystals to be shaped, jewels from dust, unblemished in memory, unmarkable for once. As you are.
It's fivehundredeightyfour steps from here to there. From home to school, a path beaten, a father's best job these days. Under leaf showers and over frost hard sod we tread through every season, bringing then younger, taking them wiser, our precious cargo.
On our backs, the sacks, the math and the drama, tangled vowels and spilled colours. Secret symbols inked on hands, mystery rips in jeans, gloves abandoned. We carry sneezes and chills, ferrying lunches and tempers
every step is forward to a future that none of us travellers know. This is their wondertime. These years, before the clouds of responsibility. This fragile wonderbubble of infinite possibility is what we carry inside, what we nurture and nudge down the path every morning. These are moments in days, in weeks that become months in years that become our life. This is what 40 is. This is the gift we wrap every day.