• I Wanna Be Adored - Chapter 9 - 1990 - Disintegration

    “Songs about happiness murmured in dreams. When we both of us knew how the ending would be”


    The day has left me shaking. I can’t tell if I am happy or sad. Something has changed.

    Barely even answering mum as she asks me how my day was I make for my room and more importantly my guitar. I start to play but something is wrong, I can’t concentrate. All afternoon I have thought about two things. Firstly getting home to play my guitar, this is what I always do when I have a rough day. The other thing is going round to Manny’s house tonight. I don’t have all the details I need. I don’t know who will be there. I know where he lives because he scrawled it down on a piece of paper for me. It’s not fair. It’s just that I don’t know .... everything else.

    I start to play slower. Trying to calm my pounding heart. Mistake. Mistake. Mistake. If I can’t play now then what on earth is going to happen when I get round to Manny’s? Even more pressure! What if there are other people there? More pressure! I can just about conceive of playing in front of Manny but ….. It doesn’t bear thinking about. Yet it is the only thing I can think about.

    I slide my guitar back in its case and look at my records. I wish dad were here. He would always be able to help me with this stuff. I could ask mum but she knows as well as I do that this was dad’s area. She’ll just get upset and start to miss him too.

    I start to flick through his records. He always told me that the answers to most problems are in here. I hesitate at Disintegration by The Cure and pull it out. He bought himself this on the day we first went record shopping. I still find the cover haunting with Robert Smith looking up at me like some B grade horror movie clown. I look hard and try to decide if the thing on the top left of the front is a flower or an eye. I have always found The Cure a Confusing band. Dad loved them but I could never understand why. I got most of his other music, there was great guitar playing or musicianship, great singing or energy, always something. And then there was The Cure? The singer didn’t have a great voice. The music seemed like a dirge to me. Especially Disintegration. I just didn’t get it.

    So the question was: Why was I putting it on?

    Since dad went everything has changed. Mum seems to have lost her strength. She was always so organised. On top of everything. Even when part of that everything was me and all of my ‘additional needs’ as people seemed to put it. She used to help me with everything, with dad of course. But now she seems to need help with everything. Aunty Caroline is always here helping. Aunty Caroline said that the grief will take time. That soon we will find our new normal and everything will be okay. My normal seems to be the same normal as before. I am not sure I know what she is talking about. Pretty soon after that conversation mum was yelling at me again and again I didn’t know why. She asked me if I loved him or if I just used him to get by. I didn’t understand what she meant and it made me feel weird. I feel weird again now thinking about it as I put the record on the spindle. I try to push the feeling inside me where I keep all the feelings I don’t understand. I don’t need them and they are not useful. I put the needle on the record and sit on the floor.

    The opening bars of Plainsong hit me like an intercity train. My room is soon filled with music and sorrow. My head starts spinning as the music at once and both at the same time attacks and soothes me. I can feel it pulling at my insides, tugging at the pain and confusion I have pushed away over the years. My body starts to relax, giving in to the sounds that surround it. My shoulders tense as tears start to roll down my cheek. Something blocks my throat as I try to speak. I try to scream to unblock it but no sound emerges.

    “I’m sorry”

    Dry and silent. My words are powerless. I want to try to explain to mum to say sorry for not sharing. Say sorry for hiding away.

    “I did love dad, but he isn’t here to help me process his loss. He was teaching me how to access and work through my emotions but I hadn’t finished learning.”

    Mary the psychologist was trying too hard to help me but without dad, she didn’t make nearly as much sense. They both told me that emotions are powerful things and we must be careful with them. I did what we do with all dangerous things, I put them away. I am terrified.

    I listen to The Cure singing about pictures of you and wonder if he has lost someone important too. I have a head full of pictures of dad and now, really, they are all I can do. I fall backwards and lay on the floor. My face wet with tears. My guts are spewing a void across my everything. I am being enveloped in a nothingness that I cannot describe.

    I start to hit the back of my head against the floor but the carpet is insulating each blow so I can feel no pain to distract myself from the rest of me.

    “Your dad loved this record”

    I heard my mum say calmly through the noise. It seems like so long since she has been calm. She walks over and lays down on the floor next to me. I feel calmer. I am still crying but thinking about dad somehow makes me feel calmer. I felt mum put her hand close to mine. I didn’t flinch this time because I know she isn’t going to touch me. I always knew she felt bad when I flinched, I know she didn’t mean to but it made me feel bad anyway.

    “I always feel guilty about feeling sad when you flinch,” she said quietly “I promise I won’t touch you okay. Maybe I can just be close to you?”

    I nod and smile at her. It feels silly smiling when I am crying so hard.

    “Whenever I’m alone with you. You make me feel like I am whole again”

    Mum sings gently. Her voice is terrible but it makes me feel so happy.

    “Your dad used to sing this to me” she smiles as a single tear rolled down her cheek “It is the most beautiful song. Your dad was an amazing person, Allen. I am so sad that he has gone.

    The carpet begins to gently vibrate as mum’s crying erupts. This is the first time I have seen her cry over dad. I have seen her red eyes and drained face from when she has been crying but I haven’t seen her cry like this. I guess she wanted to protect me from these dangerous emotions. I silently wish that I could help her, protect her. I slide my hand over and put it on to hers. Her whole body tenses as she looks at me with surprise in her eyes. The sensation sends shockwaves through my body. I try to relax but our crying has taken us both over. I gently squeeze her hand to try and tell her that I am okay. I don’t know if it works. I remember dad singing this song for her. I remember her eyes sparkling with joy as she joined in. I remember how close they were. How they would never be apart. Now everything was different.

    Eventually, our crying subsides and mum and I lay together listening to the music and thinking about dad. Well, I am thinking about dad and I assume mum is too. During the second side of the album The Cure sing, a line about not staying to the end and mum and I both cry hard together and I squeeze her hand again.

    But I never said I would stay to the end
    So I leave you with babies and hoping for frequency
    Screaming like this in the hope of the secrecy
    Screaming me over and over and over
    I leave you with photographs, pictures of trickery
    Stains on the carpet and stains on the scenery
    Songs about happiness murmured in dreams
    When we both of us knew how the ending would be

    When the record is finished I say

    “I did love dad, but he isn’t here to help me process his loss. He was teaching me how to access and work through my emotions but I hadn’t finished learning. I’m scared, mum! I am scared of what my emotions are going to do”

    Mum looks at me and tells me that emotions can only hurt us if he keeps them inside. She tells me that the reason my dad encouraged me to listen to music was because all the people on those records have found a way of letting their emotions out so they were safe from them.

    “Really mum?” I smile “he never told me that.”

    We stood up together like we were going to face the world together.

    “Mum, would you mind if I went round to a friend’s house tonight?”

    “A friend?” she replied, turning around with a funny look on her face.

    “Yes” I replied, I smiled when I realised that this was probably the first time I had ever asked her.

    “Your dad would be so proud” she was smiling and crying at the same time. I didn’t know that was possible. “You’d better wash your face or have a shower though. And tell me all about it when you get back”
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