A moment in time.
The back door had slammed shut behind me. It was 6 in the morning at the start of a late summers day.
My father had heard the door as he came down stairs to the toilet. Our paths crossed in the small walk through that was the back of our house. He growled at me, I was looking tired and unwashed. I’m sure that he was concerned for my well being, he didn’t show that emotion he just glared at me and indicated that this was not the end of the matter, more like the beginning.
I went up stairs, I closed the door to my bedroom and feeling very low, I climbed into bed still in my clothes and fell asleep.
When I woke up it was early evening, the day had passed without me seeing any of it. The cloud of depression was still there and I really didn’t want to have to talk to my parents about what I had been doing. I didn’t want to talk about either the future or the past 24 hours, but knew it was the immediate past that they would want to discuss. It was in that 24 hours that I had made some big decisions, decisions I knew they wouldn’t approve of. I wasn’t thinking clearly at all and felt trapped unable to come out of my room and face the music.
When I thought the coast was clear I crept down to the bathroom and stole some pills, that I thought were sleeping pills, from the medicine cabinet. I took a handful, enough I thought to end my life. Very quickly I felt sick, nauseas to the point of throwing up. I thought if I lay down again it would pass and I would drop into a coma and die. Well that was the plan.
Within an hour, I was on the toilet unable to control my bowels. It was like, two weeks of food was being ejected from me. It was painful and even when there didn’t seem to be any more to come, it just kept coming. I sat there wondering what the fuck I had taken. Later I was to discover they were laxatives. After about ten minutes I felt a bit better and gingerly got up and made my way downstairs. My aim was to give a frank and honest assessment of my state of mind.
My parents looked at me as if I was a ghost, I expect my exertions had left me a little pale. Being the sort of person I am I decided the way to deal with this situation was to be direct. No beating around the bush. I would tell them straight.
So I preceded to tell them about the lovely people I had met at a party a week before and how we had all met up again yesterday. How we had taken Acid and basically been love bombed by the fantastic music and company. How I had lost track of time and and and . And so I went on until it dawned on me that I wasn’t telling them what I wanted to tell them at all. I was just digging a hole for myself. Giving them ammunition to attack my behaviour. My lack of direction, how I had started on the road to ruination.
So I tried to concentrate, I needed to tell them what I intended to do.
Then came that moment in time. that can be a week, but looking back, it is referred to as a moment. The core of my moment, happened in the next few moments, as I outlined what I intended to do. The conclusion to that moment came a month later.
“I am going to France” I said,” that is what I have decided to do.”
I had decided the night before. I couldn’t tell them how I had made my decision that would of sounded facile, improvised crap. No substance to the decision making.
I was going to France whether they liked it or not. That was fact, I couldn’t care less if they wanted me to go to college. Retake O levels, make a career in teaching primary school kids. Whatever their expectations were, it was my decision to make my own decision.
That moment of clarity had come and the full impact of it was now filling our living room. I could see my Mother’s mouth open. I expected a word or two to come out but not a sound. That was unusual for her. My Father had put on his stern, no you don’t son, look. But even he was silent. This gave me the breathing space to take a deep breath and add my final demands.
“I will work for one month, and then I will travel to Paris. What I ask of you is that you don’t ask for any board or keep for one month. Is that OK with you?”
I think they were that dumbstruck by the directness of the enquiry, that they agreed there and then. From that evening on, there was an uneasy truce until I left. Each day we moved around each other like injured animals. We didn’t have big discussions about what went wrong. We didn’t pull apart what fragile history we had. I wish we had, I would like to think I would want to discuss things with my kids if they told me they wanted to leave home at sixteen. But this was 1969, I think my Mum and Dad were still living in the 1950s . It took them another two decades to forgive me and the wounds from that moment in time could begin to heal.