19 Jan 2006

A New Beginning.

After resigning as full-time teacher / Head of Art.

 The January sun never quite reaches the patio doors of my modest two up two down town house on the edge of the city, but rather reflects off the red urban brickwork opposite, to cast its orange glow throughout my lounge. It is a Monday morning, but one unlike any other Monday morning that has gone before. Normally, at this early hour, on the day which traditionally heralds the start of the working week, I wouldn’t be here, and it’s hard to shake the feeling that I should not be.

As I go from room to room each one feels like it is harbouring the same sense of confusion: Why was the alarm clock silent? Why no radio? Why no hiss from the kettle nor metallic spring from the toaster? The click of the key in the lock? Or the clang from the garage door? Today these rooms are wondering what the hell I'm doing here and perhaps, just for a moment, so am I. Monday morning's carpet is an unfamiliar place for my bare feet to find themselves. Indeed, the whole house seems so very unfamiliar on a weekday; so totally silent, as if it's been caught out in some act of great secrecy.

Taking to my seat in the corner of the lounge by the staircase, I press “start” and my computer stirs to life, causing Google's homepage to further illuminate the room in readiness for a coffee and laptop breakfast time. There are no emails, and I’ve never really been sociable enough for social media. So, I swivel my chair around to further peruse this environment I’ve owned for a couple of decades but never yet felt I’ve truly lived in.

The CDs along the shelves present themselves in orderly straight rows, precisely arranged according to artiste. Apart from their silence they remind me of the rigid rows of passenger seats I once sat amongst at this time of day on my way to work, or the formal rows of desks I was responsible for once I arrived there. I wonder if the people on the bus, or those seated at their desks, are now wondering where I am? They, still having a clearly defined purpose in life, and I, wondering what mine might now be. It's been a long time since I had the sheer luxury of Time; the time to sit awhile and truly listen to those CDs, feasting my afterwork ears with glorious music. But for the moment I decide not to disturb their plastic perfect display, just in case I’m mistaken and this place is not actually mine after all. Instead, I address the room and its contents out loud: “Don't you remember me? I'm the person who used to live here. I’m the person who used to live here and paint like fury over the summer months, blinds drawn against the sun. I’m the person who actually used to exhibit my art”.

The first sound to break the room’s silent response came with the morning post. Although startled for a moment, I do like the sound of letters as they tumble through the letterbox, and I wonder if they’ve always made that same sound across the years when this kitchen was empty of a weekday, with no-one here to receive nor hear them. I like letters. Opening a letter is like opening an oyster. Sometimes you find a pearl. But only sometimes. I think maybe last night’s dream contained a pearl; a pearl of wisdom.

I dreamt I was walking across the village green at the place I used to live. In the centre of the green were people I once knew, all engaged in a game of cricket. When I approached, they greeted me as if little or no time had passed at all, handing me the bat and saying “We were wondering where you’d got to. Come on, it’s your innings”, and all of them most eager to resume a match my absence from which had apparently caused a delay. The irony is that, not only have I never played a game of cricket in my life, neither have I ever indulged in sentimental visits to people or places past. The saying is true: “You Can’t Go Home Again”, and neither have I ever wanted to. Memories of once upon a times and “good old days”, no matter how cherished, are simply just that. I believe the “good old days” start every time your first foot hits that early morning carpet. And that’s what I think the dream was all about: I cannot go back, but I can surely reconnect with the person I used to be, the one that even I myself was perhaps “wondering where I’d got to”.

With the sun now a little higher in its crisp blue clear sky, I finish my second cup of coffee, shave, and get dressed. This new life which starts today, permits a favoured and faded pair of weekday jeans, relegating the collar and tie code of my previous profession to the depths of a wardrobe drawer. A new life, like a blank canvas. But what lines to pursue to give it shape, colour, and purpose? I’ve worked on many large canvases in the past, but none as large as this, its size determined only by however many years lay ahead. I am home. I am ready for the new challenge.

All text, pros, photos & artwork, copyright Ian Gordon Craig.