Saturday, 4 July 2009

On losing a purse and wordlessness

This is not a bibliotherapy, because I don't have much in the way of words of advice today (for myself, nor anyone else). I'm going away very early tomorrow morning, with my younger son, and as is often the way with bad timing, my purse was stolen this afternoon. Driving license, credit cards, holiday cash -- all gone, the lot of it. It doesn't really matter, not in the greater scheme of things -- these are inconvenient losses, nowhere close to those big ones that shake everything up, so that they fall down in broken pieces.
But every small loss brings with it an echo of a larger one; sometimes just a bat squeak, the tiniest of reverberations, that set one's alarm bells ringing. 'What if?' you think; 'what next?'. If you have existed in a state of alertness, for whatever reason (and I have been living in a heightened state of anxiety, for a number of months), and then something happens -- the small thing, the stolen purse, the thieves you did not protect yourself against -- you wonder (I wonder), am I paying attention? What will I miss next?
None of which is very helpful; too much of it, and that way madness lies. So here I am (or am I here?), without signposts, trying to write my way out of the wordlessness of panic.
[pause for breath].
[and another one].

20 comments:

kairu said...

I think it is even worse to have something like this happen when you are already living with something greater, somehow. (What is that Elizabeth Bishop poem, about the art of losing? Of course this is something more terrible, something stolen and not lost). Somehow even the smallest thing seems magnified a hundred times.

I hope you still manage to get away for your holiday.

Keren David said...

There are times when something like this magnifies again and again into all the bad things that might have happens, and there are times when the fact that you've survived far worse puts inconvenient and material losses into perspective. I hope you get things sorted out and are able to have a good holiday.

Justine Picardie said...

Thank you, both of you. Am calm again now, despite having my bank account raided, within ten minutes of the purse being stolen.
Kairu, if you have time, will you post the Elizabeth Bishop poem?
Back next week...

kairu said...

"One Art" Elizabeth Bishop, 1976.

The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster;
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother's watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster.

-Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan't have lied. It's evident
the art of losing's not hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

(from my high school poetry anthology, which I found on a bookshelf).

jodobson25 said...

I just wanted to say I'm so sorry this happened to you. You put it so well, about the way that every loss brings the echo of a larger one. Like you, I've had some big ones too and am just learning to accept the fact that the smaller ones are always going to be that much worse because of it. I hope you're going away somewhere calm and restorative. Thanks for your blog - I really enjoy it.

lillyanne said...

I'm so sorry about this. It's such a bugger, to be rendered so vulnerable and helpless, and have all your emotional alarm bells set off all over again - it's like muscle memory protecting an old accident, or a long-healed scar. You'll be better after the break, I'm sure.

knittingoutloud said...

Changing location always helps, even if it is only going out the front door. Hope you have a lovely trip. Kairu, thank you for the poem.

Lazywell said...

Poor you, Justine. But what a trouper you are! Even at a traumatic and frustrating time such as that you were able to capture in vivid and perceptive prose the sense of confusion and anxiety you were feeling.
As you can see from these posts, you have been much in the thoughts of your friends and fans. You didn’t say where you were going on holiday, but I hope you will have been able to catch your breath and return refreshed and ready for your next – happier, at least – challenge at Port Eliot. I’m looking forward to attending and will endeavour to make myself known amongst the hordes.

Lazywell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kairu said...

Completely unrelated, but I am watching a stunning Criterion edition of "Last Year at Marienbad," and the Chanel costumes are incredible. Delphine Seyfrig has the dark eyes, the eyebrows, the sleek bob, the exquisite pose, very Chanel. It is a very strange film - I feel like I am falling down a rabbit-hole - but extraordinarily beautiful.

Juxtabook said...

How horrible - like poor Gerry McCann having his wallet snatched when he first came back to the UK. Tragedies and loss knock us off balance so we eithet take our eye off the ball, or think we have. Hope it didn't spoil your time with your son.

oxford-reader said...

How horrible - I hope the bank account hasn't suffered too greatly. You're in my thoughts a lot recently, so I hope you feel surrounded by the good vibes Im sending your way, even if life seems to be throwing you curve balls at the moment.

lillyanne said...

Now here's an interesting distraction for you, Justine! Daphne du Maurier's old house is up for sale - read an article about it in the Telegraph:-
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/culturenews/5777923/Daphne-Du-Mauriers-Frenchmans-Creek-home-for-sale.html

Anyone we know got £2 million plus?

oxford-reader said...

The picture in that article does not fit with my image of the house in Frenchman's Creek! However, will be pretty near there in 24 hours - maybe I should go scout it out.

Bloggers of the world unite! How many of us wpuld it take to have a chance of buying it???

Rachel Marie said...

Dear Ms Picardie,

My Mother’s Wedding Dress is one of my favourite books. While re-reading it early this morning (summer insomnia), I noticed you ask what became of Helmut Lang after he lost the right to trade under his own name. In case you are still wondering, Mr Lang is flourishing as an artist. His first solo exhibition, Alles Gleich Schwer (All Have Equal Weight), took place last autumn in Hanover.

I do envy Harriet Quick that blush pink feather coat, even if it did surrender its beauty to the elements.

Hoping your t-shirt remains comforting,

Rachel Marie Walsh

Justine Picardie said...

Thank you to everyone who has commented. Love the Elizabeth Bishop poem -- can anyone tell me more about her?

Josephine Tale Peddler said...

I just wanted to say that I agree totally with Lazywell. You are amazing, Justine for being able to articulate the emotion you went through at the time. I think we can all relate so well to that feeling. I often think about Basil Fawlty whipping his car with a tree branch in the show Fawlty Towers. How often life has reduced us to that frustrated madness! We seem to cope with the major things so well but it's the onslaught of the trivial small things going constantly wrong that can bring us to our knees. xx

woody265 said...

Justine

Out of left field -- hope it doesn't freak you out -- but I just read If I Dream I Have You in an old Granta. Such was the power of the writing and my own desire, I really believed you would hear your sister's voice. (And, oh, yes, there is projection here...) Just wanted to thank you. I heard an echo of my own recent loss.

Mark (Canada)

simoncadbury said...

this is so sad and emotional..

doctorate international business | Bachelors degree Telecommunications | PhD Telecommunications

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