The cream and silver kitchen scales, a constant companion on the kitchen table I find myself at every day. Invited to write about an object, a vision of … I focus on the silver pan, the large dial, the red arrow on zero. We brought them over 11 years ago with wedding vouchers, ágætis byrjun goes hand in hand with that time though a good beginning began nine years earlier when I first met my now beautiful wife. My eyes shift to our garden and the gentle escape it offers, I pull my eyes back to the scales. Invited to write about an object, a vision of … an unwanted memory from a film – I see it, but I will never experience it. Still I stay with the scales and I am lightened by our use of them this year, lockdown bread and cakes – moments of practical escapes, achievements and nourishment. Lockdown brought with it a resonance, but it found me, us, in a different place. I recall the gathering of dust on them, unused, as dust settled around us, on us, between us – haunted and lost. Alone together, but apart in our losses, our hope turning toxic and a dense cloud of grief enveloping us.
My eyes glance to the board above, photos of two, two cats join us there, as they do around our home, I am surprised one hasn’t turned up here, she usually likes to appear in Zoom calls, a close up of her tail. That brings a smile to me as the weight of our losses threatens to bear down on me, an over powering theme of my, our lives for the past decade. From scales to grief to a smile, that is progress. As is banana bread, cinnamon buns and Boris pie, for two (plus friends) and that is ok, that is enough. It truly is. Still, I found myself silenced, torn between sharing and the shame of tears. I continue seeking for the return of my voice, the energy, excitement and passion which fuels my writing rhythm. Is this the time to share? For silence isn’t working out for me.
Soundtrack: Walk Unafraid, First Aid Kit (on repeat)
Note: The invitation to write was part of a PhD writing methods session – my PhD is where I feel acutely the loss of my voice, it is as if I step back from my grief work, my acceptance of a life without children and the development of my childless voice. I find myself lost trying to be who I think I should be rather than enjoying and believing in who I am. For me, a PhD is testing at the best of times, it is even more so when I don’t meet it with my own voice – it is through my voice that my contribution will occur, not through trying to be an ‘academic’, especially to make up for a distorted sense of failure for not being a Dad. My childlessness is entangled with my PhD, which is why I was torn between sharing and staying silent. My sense is my PhD will be enhanced by my sharing of my experiences of childlessness, as it has been when I have done this and removed my many masks. But I don’t rest my memory there and I retreat, masks slip back on. That is part of my process, but so is taking risks, the removing of my masks, and that tends to help me a lot more. Here is another risk that is part of my acceptance of being childless and no less for it.