Fatherland

You locked us up!

You locked me up! And my brother, he’s younger you know. Oh yeah and my mum, too.

For weeks and weeks, while you were busy elsewhere. 

After we had been in there a bit my mum stopped working.

Some weeks from that I stopped missing my friends so much.

You told us nothing but to stay in there.

My brother is not as old as me, you know. He can’t do what I can. And he doesn’t want to, so he fights my mum.

I fight him and her, and then we can do what we want for a while but somehow it hurts. 

While you were busy elsewhere, we were less and less busy in there. 

You were doing important things every day and telling my parents about it every night. 

But you talked only of other people. 

My mum held my brother, and fought the school people, then one day she stopped teaching my brother. On the TV you talked about everyone else. 

Those who were having a hard time with the whole virus thing that is going on.

Healing yet?

Not yet.

Less angry maybe at State & Life, more angry probably at wild children rubbing sand down each other’s necks. We have to drive back in a car! A car! For people!

Bringing kids out of a long lockdown is honestly proving more complicated than keeping them there, which was very hard.

Things are hard.

We wrestle by the main street.

We air our grievances in the summer house.

I sob in the bakery. Wearing a friggin double cotton mask and some ridiculously huge see-through gloves. Like some inadequately equipped builder. Desperate for a break from a never-ending, payless shift at the world’s most beautiful AND COMPLICATED building site.

After seven in the evening, I threaten sand-coated people in the beach shower. People who suddenly seem to have lost all ability to compromise. We are the three uncompromising beach goers on empty stretches of waves and seashells and millions of grains of sand that want to come home with us.

I wouldn’t call this healing.

Maybe shared, love-based suffering in glorious natural surroundings?

I’m Going, You Stay!

That’s what I burst out to and left. Furious, with bags, and keys and grievances, I left for our family weekend at our summer place – all alone.

It’s fair to say that these Corona Avoidance months in Cyprus have not been my personal best.

Just today, who was that?

I’ve thought about it here, surrounded by frowning swimming toys and their silent accusations.

So, there is a bit of anger.

What to do with it now that we are free again?

Corona Kids

How will you remember all this?

All those germs you couldn’t see

Classmates looking dazed on their screens

Your teacher saying he loves you all

Little vampires at night

Too much of what you wanted

Let’s wait until they pass

I am too tired now to talk my love

Making money

Painting on the roof

Don’t touch ANYTHING

Cats darting through doors

The quiet

All those people out there, trying to get back home

Home

Scenes from Home

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“How dare they! How dare they! They have no idea what it’s like to have kids holed up in an apartment! How old are these men? What makes them think they can do this to us?”

“Babe. You’re in denial.”

“I am not in denial! This is nuts! Such overkill I never saw in my life! What about mothers? What about our jobs? Who is going to do our jobs, and what will happen to the country if we suddenly just stop working? They think oh those women, what work do they do anyway. It’s what they are for, to care for their kids anytime, all the time, always there, no problem, just shove this on them. We are going to be in here for six and a half weeks. Six and a half weeks!”

“This thing is dangerous. Seen what’s going on in Italy? We are a small country. We don’t have the capacity for that.”

“How many cases have you guys got? How many?”

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“We just got to hunker down for two weeks, dear. The borders are closing now and this thing will peak in two weeks. You will call me, I will call you. Then it will get easier.”

“That does make sense. That does make me feel a bit better actually. Thanks.”

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“The sun is in my eyes! I want my cap!”

“Darling, you can’t put a cap on a bicycle helmet. I brought you sunglasses! Look, love.”

“They are too big! They fall off! It’s too bright!”

“They are just fine, love. Look, I’ll put them under here. No way they can fall off now.”

“They make me dizzy! I can’t see! Why didn’t you bring me a cap!”

“We aren’t going back for a cap now, so please quit whining. Isn’t it nice to be outside?”

“Not nice! Useless! These stupid glasses make so dizzy! They are useless! You are useless, do you hear me! Mama!”

“Okay take them off then, love, and let’s carry on. And that hurt my feelings.”

“Haha! Good! You hurt my feelings with this stupid brightness!”

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“X just tested positive for coronavirus.”

“How is he?”

“He’s okay. So far so good.”

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“Do you know what this thing can do to our family if you keep going around? Do you think I will make it if I catch it? And what about you? We can’t die! They need me! They need… me.”

“I’m so careful. And there’s nearly no-one there anymore. The doors are all open so we don’t have to touch them at all. I clean my hands all the time.”

“I’m going to put my mattress on the floor!”

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“Mama, is there coronavirus in Finland?”

“Yes, darling.”

“Are Mummu and Vaari going to catch it?”

“No love, I don’t think so. They only go out to go to the woods and run after birds with cameras, don’t they? They just sit at home or go bird watching. You can’t catch it if you don’t see anyone.”

Some Things Are Stronger Than Us

I can update so rarely. This draft is from August!

Children growing up in loving families take for granted that everything is going to be alright. They may be terrified of small things like barking dogs or sudden noises, or being called a baby by others.

But when it comes to the big scaries, for them it is happily clear that their parents can stop any old tidal wave heading their way. And often, metaphorically, we can. We sure would happily die trying!

But some things are stronger than us.

Sea currents, say.

Or disappointments not addressed for weeks, months, years. The pain of changing and feeling unseen as the person you’ve proudly become.

It’s the hottest month in Cyprus. I float happily face down in shifting water. My ears and my mind are both filled with currents.

The tingling of a million pebbles forever looking for their place in the order of things.

I can make out dim outlines of little fishes quickly swimming past. My body is pulled and pushed by impatient waves. The archaic appetite of this mass wants to suck in me, my family.

My most beloved friends. Every body on this beach, this coast, warm and sweaty and fragile. And at the end, all alone.

Some things are stronger than us.

But which things?

https://open.spotify.com/track/6bewkREJxEPKRYZcypacXm?si=qNjGvXqZQyaJ4SaZJ1opNA Music for floating in warm sea water during the hottest month of the year

The Cypriot Cure

‘Did you bring the bloodwork?’ mumbled the doctor, gazing at me over her glasses. ‘Oh no, I just had so much on my mind, I’m sorry.’ ‘Get me the bloodwork’, she huffed, visibly annoyed now. ‘You have to take care of yourself! If you don’t, how can you care for your kids?’

Looking at all the things I manage to worry about in my everyday life, worry over my kids tends to be a little bit on the consuming side. Most days I feel good about things, but there are some days in between when just fret, worry and brood and just can’t help myself. On Worry Days, I eat, I worry, I drive, I worry. I go to the doctor, for myself, and remember only upon leaving what it was that I actually phoned in for.

But no matter!

I can just drive back home and indulge in some good fretting over my kids again; over what I’m doing as a parent and whether it’s enough.

Yes I’m doing all I can, obviously, but maybe I should do more? More than I can?

Maybe I should change completely? All of my qualities, for their sake? Be less selfish in my love and give up my spot to somebody else, ffs? Someone confident who knows what the heck they’re doing and what it was they went to the doctor for, that sorta person? Someone on social media, perhaps? Swarms of confident and knowledgeable mothers over there, I’ve noticed!

When it comes to my work, feedback is usually quick. Ok, add a bit of descriptive text then resend. I add descriptive text and resend and everyone is happy. Payment ensues.

With our youngest generation, immediate feedback is often a bit ambivalent. And I guess the real results of our blood, sweat and tears won’t materialise until a decade or two from now. And then, my worried self figures, there will be no kid anymore, but a glaring adult who may choose their graduation or a similar public event to announce they never want kids themselves because their own childhood was so off-putting because of those people, those two over there! We’ll look around and others will look at us, with disapproval, and we’ll look at each other. And I’ll tell my husband I told you so.

‘Have we eaten today?’ he now asks, stroking my hair.

Not at the imaginary graduation (because in all of my imaginings, the last word is mine: ‘so’ from ‘I told you so’) but now here, on our sofa at 22:35.

In Cypriot folklore, whoever goes off the railings with fret is probably a bit peckish. When fed, they will regain their composure and their confidence instantly. Not to mention their belief in God and the unwavering certainty that everything will turn out fabulous at the end, actually. You eat, your worry goes elsewhere, to someone peckish!

But he’s got a point! When a worried person eats, it’s seldom with much mindfulness.

I don’t know it yet but I will eat mindfully tomorrow. I will be sat in my pyjama trousers at the dining table, in front of a hearty bowl of pasta and between us two, a flickering tealight and a bottle of white will sit firmly and decisively on the table.

The wine is to be finished. Music is to be listened to.

Later, snooker will be watched and I can rest my head on someone who knew me years before I became anyone’s mum, and has eaten, and knows the kids the way only we two know. And he is of the opinion that things are going to turn out just fine.

The next day, an alternative graduation scenario shyly comes to mind. A small grin, not vengeful but just relieved and triumphant and young. Rows and rows of parents swept up by a communal silent cry of pride. A tall boy on stage will look for us in the crowd and he’ll smile a bit and we’ll try to wave. And my husband will say I told you so.

The Cypriot cure.

Now testing against pessimism, melancholy, worry and self-pity in overwhelmed working mothers!

Something Borrowed

His name is Bruno and he was home alone today.

So we could borrow him!

The park was a lush green paradise of birdsong and sunshine filtered through a million leaves.

Bruno enjoyed the smell aspects of it.

And some womanising. Oh dear!

Cyprus is so gorgeous!

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And apparently, smells fabulous too.

Writing for a Living

I write for money! Yes I do.

Nope, not for the Cyprus Mail. It’s there for breakfast and lunch companionship only!

I receive blueprints and pour over them like a woman possessed. Then begin frantic area research and note taking. In challenging cases, enlist a music streaming service.

What’s near the development?

What will the views be like?

How does one get anyplace?

Notes.

Start typing: architecture, design. Landscaping, layouts.

And all the practical stuff, try to be a bit more brief for goodness’ sake, it isn’t a bleeding novel!

Selling points? Hmm.

Introduction. (This is everything.)

Title options. Usually too long, grimace.

Chop! Mourn.

Okay? Off it goes.

Burst through school gates. Panting, so late, so disheveled and not bearing snacks it seems actually.

Usher people to Greek tutoring.

Sit in the car a bit cold. Fantasize of writing for fun maybe tonight.

Like lock my door, turn up the music?

Then, for goodness’ sake, write like there’s no tomorrow?

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Yes! Yes!!

Maybe tomorrow?

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