There is an awful isolation in normality, as much as there can be comfort. The people were busy with normality around us.
Standing on Marine Parade, wondering what next to do with our lives, I felt isolated in that things were not normal for us. Normality was everywhere, but not within our home. With people commonly talking of problems with relationships, a delivery they were expecting not arriving, their baby teething, our problem seemed too insane. It could not be shared, and thus we were isolated.
It’s the same as when you’re unemployed and people rush past you on their way to work, or to the supermarket to buy what they need – but you are standing alone, unable to work for you have not been chosen by an employer, and not able to afford what you need. It’s not that you don’t wish to be in step with the normal (well….), but just that you have fallen behind and are losing your place in society every day you can lesser afford your rent, lesser afford food, lesser afford electricity and gas. You want that normal not because you love it, but because normal – keeping a job, paying our way through life – is the foundation of our freedom to live howsoever we want.
Joggers panted past us, dogs wagging tails erect with delight at simply being, mothers in groups so together together, I felt so alone. I decided to find haven in a beachside café and moved us off the street, to a window seat where Daniel could sit on my lap and watch the awakening of the day, human lives, while I took to coffee and thought.
It is in stillness that our instincts arise most clearly, I feel, for while we experience instincts in sudden moments, say of panic, we often think them away, logicise them out of the picture, think we should do this/the other instead. So in the stillness of our moments in the café, Daniel on my lap, enthralled by pieces of marshmallow I fed him, squishy in his fingers, sweet on his tongue, my instincts rose to be heard. As instincts do, they arise not in mind but in a decision that I suddenly, inexplicably, felt was right: I would remove Robert’s manifested dust, remove Chris’ notices, remove my bed from the sleep-out into Daniel’s/my old room; and I decided that we would sleep with the door shut.
I looked out at the people on the beach. Some stood at shore, hesitating whether to embrace the rawness of nature as it was bound to bring discomfort to some degree – chill, sand, sticky saltiness. Yet others dived in, just as I wished to, and were lost immediately to the waves, froth and foam rumbling to shore. They disappeared deep in the rolling emotion of nature, and emerged with straggled hair, gasping at the full body sensations, laughing.
I decided also without thought, that I would get the Bible I had always kept amongst my books but had never read, consulted or done anything with – it’s just that I couldn’t bring myself to throw a Bible away – and I would read aloud from it every night until sleep claimed me. I would maintain a vigil until I could remain conscious no more, and the last words on my lips, the last vibrations in our room each night, would be the word of God.
I had once tried reading the Bible, but I couldn’t get past the begat begot begut. It was a narrative of origin I just didn’t (be)get. It was interesting though, that the human family tree had been recorded from the beginning of time – or the beginning of the time when man had evolved. It would be so awesome if that family tree was maintained generation upon generation, to 5:41 pm, 25 March 2012: now. Imagine, I thought, if just as my homo sapien predecessors had scribed it on their tablets of stone, cave walls, papyrus, pyramids – I don’t know, I didn’t pass History – alike too I sat in my room in Australia, scribing into cyber space, “And Noeleen and Chris begat Daniel” and some year hence, Daniel added his leaf to the family tree, “And Daniel and Eve begat XX” – or adopted XX, or perhaps he would just partner a person, and may not beget anyone, just like my sisters three. I looked at him.
“Will you be doing any begetting, Daniel?” I asked gently, and smiled as his large brown eyes looked at me, his chubby cheeks chewing mallow, then gazed beyond, out to sea.
I can’t remember the name of the last recorded begotten, but it would have been so amazing if we continued the records. It would have to be kept in vaults in every country, I thought. And every life would have to count.
Watching as a father helped his toddling daughter down the sandy concrete steps to the water’s edge, I realized that was our failing: not all lives are determined to matter. I thought of infanticide in China, orphaned children in institutions in Russia, the birth certificates of children whose mother had not listed a father’s name. We couldn’t possibly keep such records beyond the Bible’s first listing of the begotten; we are too human.
“Can I get you anything else?” the girl smiled, taking my coffee cup. She smiled beautifully at Daniel who had spun his head around to see this new person, talking to us.
“No, that was just great, thanks. Really what I needed.”
The waitress went away and I cuddled Daniel. How misplaced are our lives in the hands of time. We had been up something like three hours already. When the normal were sleeping, we were treading the dark through to dawn. I really, really had to normalize us.
In one month, I thought as I held Daniel in one arm and dragged the folded pusher behind me with the other, we will have the blood test Chris has forced us to get, and then it will be established he is Daniel’s father, and at last at last I will have some support. It felt absurd that after the blood test in January, we had to wait eight months – to August – before we could face court and have delivered orders declaring that by the law of humankind, Chris is Daniel’s father. Spiritual law knows it, Chris knows it and I know it. Whether Daniel knows it, I am not sure. Yet, why such a charade must we play? Why was he making me go through the legal hoops before submitting to his role – well, one part of his role, of Daniel’s father? I felt very sure that “the other mother” who didn’t “ask for money (so why should I?)” had simply not asserted the rights of her child. I could not begin Daniel’s life like that. We would not be victims of circumstances laid to the plan of Chris, benefitting himself. We had to try and establish the law of humankind, as he was not conceding to moral law.
Down by the ocean, pepped with coffee, I played with Daniel in the sand and shallows. It really was precious that I was not working at this time, could be with Daniel so, but I felt worried about my capacity to work in the future. Would I be able to work in the courts again? My court reporting had become shabby due to late nights and drinking alcohol while doing tapes, so I had no reputation to bridge me to such opportunities. Perhaps I could try being a legal secretary. I was due to act at the Police Academy from January, which I was looking forward to, but beyond then, when I wanted full time work – where would be my place in society then?
It angered me that Chris kept his work, his place in society, his flat and life without the financial burden of offspring to care for. He was cheating both Daniel and me in his commitment to not paying (and his daughter), and it angered me deeply.
I did not want to harbour anger.
So should I just let it go?
Yet nor did I want to not stand up for Daniel’s rights for he was born, with great fortune, in a civilized society. Women stranded, babes in arms, dumped because life got too hard for the man (those unattached) of the child; they had fought for those rights of the child newborn. In that, I could not let it go.
How could I deal with what I was feeling?
As I poured sand over Daniel’s palms that faced the sky, now warmed by an illustrious golden sun that seagulls glided through, his little fingers tinkling beneath the flow, I decided that I would persist and pursue. And what was more, I would get a good job when it came time to work full time again. I would aim for legal PA, although I had never done anything like it. I would sell my experience as a court reporter as the perfect grounding, and with words sharpened by my will to succeed beyond what could be an average fate, I would land a good job, good money, and Chris could do whatever the hell he wanted.
Copyright Noeleen&Daniel 50/50