Lucy didn’t want to get out of bed this morning. It wasn’t until 7.30am that I managed to persuade her to unwrap from the blankies.
When I coined the term ‘Clement Space’ in my research, and began working on the concept expressed via my material practice, I had an inkling that I was on the verge of something extremely cogent. However, I did not at the time anticipate the palpable impact that this will have on my own daily life. As in the case of a great deal of potent research and artistic praxis, ‘the work’ takes on a life of its own and traverses inexorable pathways, leading the researcher and artist along, sometimes hurtling through psychedelic, iridescent multitextural-sonic-olfactory extravaganzas, and other times crawling through asphyxiating, oppressive tunnels that seem to lead nowhere into infinity.
Day 3 of my sensory retreat. De-sensitising from the grip of hapless overload, delighting in little teaspoons of honeyed grace, the mind is still scrambling desperately to revive, while the body continues to demand rest and respite.
The morning fog cleared, and it turned into a beautiful sunny and warm winter’s day. Breakfast was a happy exercise for once. I had muesli with soya milk – I’ve not had muesli in a very long time. After washing up the breakfast dishes – Lucy’s and mine – Lucy and I set forth for what I was hoping to be a pleasant, long walk in the sunshine. First, I needed to get some shampoo and conditioner. One of the things on my agenda was to enjoy an anxiety-free long, warm shower, and wash my hair without having to rush through the process in fear of running out of hot water. Yes, add to the olfactory torment the ridiculous hilarity of running out of hot water in the middle of a shower in winter. Cleanliness somehow doesn’t seem to be a way of life inside that inclement space.
As we neared the pharmacy, Lucy suddenly began to twist and turn, her hind legs springing and prancing in distress. I stopped to check her paws, but couldn’t find anything lodged inside the soft, deep crevices. She was obviously bothered by something, a sensory disturbance, but I was unable to ascertain what it was. By the time we entered the pharmacy, she was prancing around in jittery anxiety. I quickly purchased a small pack of wet wipes, and wiped her hind paws. That was when I found the reason for her panic – ants! My poor baby was being bitten by angry black ants, who themselves were in a state of agitation. A brief chat with the pharmacist after Lucy had been thoroughly rid of pestilence, and armed with shampoo and conditioner, we set off for the park. Unfortunately, Lucy was no longer in the mood for a long walk. She sniffed around a little, then stood for awhile staring into the open space below, and turned to lead me back to our temporary home-base.
Once inside, the Princess demanded for sustenance, and this minion human mumma complied. Lunch for Lucy was a tin a sardines in spring water (drained) and for me, a simple platter. Lucy lay in the day bed next to me, elegant watchful eyes on my noshments.
I needed to get my mind around a few urgent issues, but fatigue set in, and the mind refused to perform to command. The day bed has become our clement space for the last three days. Today was particularly lovely, with the warm sunshine streaming through, and no shivery fever to battle. Lucy lay ‘naked,’ no need for coatie, her sleek black fur glimmering in the light. The warmth, the physical closeness, the elemental connectivity, and the luscious visual beauty of my Greyhound Angel played out a sonata of grace. Unfortunately, I was unable to achieve much in the way of work.
My groceries arrived in the late afternoon. In a determined push to cross the quivering line of phobic fear developed during the months of imprisonment inside olfactory hell, disorder and social dissonance, I cooked dinner in an unfamiliar kitchen. It is a clean kitchen. A world removed from the brutal and suffocating hovel of the last four months. I could pan fry again, a luxury I have had to forgo because of the lack of decent ventilation, among other horrors. Dinner was a huge sumptuous meal of pan-fried salmon, sliced onion, broccolini, fresh tomatoes and anchovy-stuffed olives. I am out of touch. The salmon insisted on sticking to the pan, though I managed to refrain from overcooking it. The smells were not ‘right’ somehow, and the broccolini undercooked. Nevertheless, there was a sense of achievement, a small miniature victory, as if a mental-emotional aperture had been reclaimed. Lucy had lightly broiled chicken hearts, gizzard and liver as an addition to her regular dinner. I didn’t have time to snap a photograph of her bowl, she was gently prancing around in such elegant glee, I just could not make her wait any longer.
It was an eclectic day of activity and inactivity. And now it is late. Time to persuade the sleeping beauty to venture outside for a final micturition before the long sleep. As the day draws to a close, a different kind of anxiety is creeping in – the dread of having to leave this clemency and return to the bowels of sensorial-social perdition once again…
I am listening to the possums outside. Starkly aware of the awkward juxtaposition. Two more days to go. If only I could make this last a wee bit longer.