Thursday, January 02, 2014

From the notebooks: visa

Snowdrops at Chippenham Park

Monday, February 25, 2013

The postie comes past my house sometime through the second cup of coffee, usually, an awkward squawk and clank as he mangles the letters past the sclerotic springs purporting to keep the cold on the right side of the mail flap. But I'm waiting for him to knock. The parcel-knock, the something-special-from-Mum knock, the online-shopping knock. The registered-letter knock. 

Today he knocks. I put down my coffee. My nose crinkles, folding up hopefulness and don't-get-your-hopes-up. A knock last week, my coat back from being rewaxed, neat and disappointing in a polythene bag.

But not today. I stand in the doorway, the postie perched on my three feet of wet crazy-paved pocket-path to the absurd picket gate that I could hold in my hands like a broadsheet. I have something recorded, he says, and I know this is it. Here it is. There it is. Right here, right now, the present, a cascading pointer pile of what-is indexicality dashing Indiana-Jones flooding-mine style all over the what-might-be. Almost, almost, almost all of me is sure the visa is inside, sure that the news is good, sure that the wait is over, sure that life can go back to being life and not the impossible fluid dynamics on the face of a shoaling wave but I have learned that my confidence is suspect, knit of privilege and luck and your-ma-is-good-looking and I am cut in half.   

I sign, a garble-glyph on the blast-proof lcd-touchscreen device. That's all for today, he says. That's all? I think. I shut the door and my hands are shaking. My nose crinkles again, wryly. It's too cinematic for words. I can feel my passports in the base of the envelope. I think about sitting down and having a glass of scotch but reptile brain has torn the envelope open and directed my eyes at the page. Words. Words words words thank you for your application, which has now been approved. 

Thank you for your application, which has now been approved. Thank you for your application, which has now been approved. Thank you for your application ...

I lay my forehead on the smooth, cheap paper against the table. Oh, Jesus god, thank god, thank god, oh my god. I press my palms to the table, a battered, delightful burled veneer I bought from Sally Ann's Salvation Army charity shop on Mill Road and brought home in a taxi the October before last. A roar in my ears like the sea without a sound. It is 10.45, and so quiet. A magpie clattering matches in its matchbox throat. Goldfinches jumping from tree to tree down the back lane. Adrenaline crushes everything into tiny spaces inside me like down coats into brightly coloured stuff sacks. I laugh out loud. Just a damn piece of paper, the paper that ties together the impossible ineffable like tufts of wool stolen from barbed wire for a bird's nest. I turn my head and see my bowls and cups on the shelves and am struck astonished by how much I have been planning them away, planning them temporary, planning them into boxes, into storage, into transit, away. I pick up a red-and-white one I bought in San Francisco. It is cool. My hands are dry and hot like leaves in the sun and I run up and down the stairs, up and down, up and down, with relief streaming out of me, adrenaline storm, tingling fingers and toes, tugging at my earlobes. An hour later I have forgotten and with a start find myself still inside the uncertainty, so used to the everyday instability that I have forgotten how to let it go. 

It is weeks and weeks before I stop packing up the house in my mind. 

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