There's a table with some catalogues and a guest book in the corner; there are artworks. Today, I need so badly to be inspired by them, even though I hate that word: inspiration. It crops up in too many advertisements, politcians' speeches, Disney films, its meaning obliterated. I refuse to be 'inspired' in the same insipid way that ad executives and politicians and Hollywood producers suggest I should be. What I need from these works is to be reminded of why I used to care about art—so much that I'd try and make it for myself.
After college, I started working in the gallery and found myself surrounded by a whole new set of people who had not yet grown accustomed to my antisocial tendencies, who had not yet learned to expect me to say no, and stopped asking. I was invited to go drinking and dancing again, and so, I tried.
No matter how far I try to travel from people, people always appear. Either they follow me, or they're already there, and I followed them, unwittingly.
. . . buzzed up by the knowledge that none of my family knew where I was, who I was with nor when I'd be home again. I didn't even know exactly who I was with or when I'd be home again or where home really was anymore.
I can't remember the name of the piece, or the artist. Maybe it wasn't even an artwork. Why must I automatically assume that every strange object is a sculpture, that every public display of unorthodox behavior is an act of performance.
I love that an idea can be so powerful it doesn't matter whether I've seen the artwork for real or not.
How I adored to draw as a child, a teen; all my life before I began to try and shape a career out of it.
Now I wonder if each artwork is in fact utterly inaccessible to everybody but the person to whom it is secretly addressed?
You can't dance to paintings. This is something Ben said, during one of our White Cube conversations, back when I was still wrong about him. He said it even though, at the time, he was desperately trying to be a painter. He said it because it was true and not because it was something either of us wanted to hear.
Blending into the tinctures and textures of the countryside. The tree which falls without any human hearing still falls, as the creatures who die without being found by a human still die.
I've always longed to have a patch of personal wilderness. Of waist-high grass entwined with wildflowers through which I can prance, within which I can lie down and disappear from sight.
I see foxes often, but always they are crossing fallow fields in the distance. Gold flecks on faraway expanses of green. Magnetic to the meandering eye. Enigmatic, unreachable.
My mother likes odd numbers and is suspicious of the even ones. She reads a new book every week and is bewitched by black holes in the universe. She describes herself as an optimist but she worries about everything—worries incessantly—worries on behalf of others when she feels they are not worrying adequately for themselves.And my mother misses her own mother, my grandmother, immensely, who only has a past now; who is only allowed to be as we remember her.
I decided that if I didn't allow myself to fall asleep, then I wouldn't have to wake up again and despair.
There really isn't much wrong with me,' I say, 'it's just that, well, I'm not like other people; I don't want the things they want. And this is not right, I mean, in other people's eyes, and I feel as though they feel they are duty-bound to normalise me, that it isn't okay just to not want the things they want, you know?
So it's as if,' I say, 'I'm okay in my own bones, but I know that my bones aren't living up to other people's version of what a life should be, and I feel a little crushed by that, to be honest, a little confused as to how to align the two things: to be an acceptable member of society but to be able to be my own bones both at once.
But I know I will do neither; nothing. I have all the time in the world, and yet, I can't be bothered.
It happens so seldom; I must catch and keep this slender yearning, a rare beetle in a jam-jar trap. But mustering will is not the same as wanting. I lie in the garden and think about all the footsteps between my body on the grass and my pencil-case and notebook on the table in the sun room. All the muscles I have to flex and relax to get myself there.
And yet, here I am. Perceiving everything that is wonderful to be proportionately difficult; everything that is possible an elaborate battle to achieve. My happy life was never enough for me. I always considered my time to be more precious than that of other people and almost every routine pursuit—equitable employment, domestic chores, friendship—unworthy of it. Now I see how this rebellion against ordinary happiness is the greatest vanity of them all.
But no, now I see I never meant to Ben what Ben meant to me. If there was anything I said which resonated in return, he found a better speech elsewhere. My romance went no further than his coat.
I look at the cake in my mother's arms and think: here stands the only person in the whole world who'd go to such trouble for fractious, ungrateful me.
Did it do me any good, early in life, to believe so many things which were not true? Or did it damage me? Pouring a foundation of disappointment, of uncertainty.
I never went downstairs to join my housemates around the television. I cooked dinner later than everyone else and carried the plate up to my bedroom. I knew they must have thought me aloof, or a little bit eccentric, or maybe even unkind, but I didn't care. Once the kitchen door swung shut behind me, I was alone, and so everything was okay.
The old summer's-end melancholy nips at my heels. There's no school to go back to; no detail of my life will change come the onset of September; yet still, I feel the old trepidation.
But I have never wanted to be perceived as chatty and bright. I have always wanted to be solemn and mysterious.
But nowadays I feel guilty that I am granted the immunity of the artistically gifted, having never actually achieved anything to prove myself worthy.
My only chance is to pretend it's a day like any other, to keep the despair only as great as on all the others.
Our toys were sixteen or seventeen; only the very eldest were in their early twenties, because, apparently, I didn't envision anything of particular interest in life beyond twenty-five. And now I am a greater age than any of the toys were allowed to reach, older than I even cared to imagine as a child.
In the days approaching Christmas, she always reminds me of the previous year: 'Jane crocheted you an entire poncho, and all you gave her was a bone-shaped beach stone.