Julian awoke refreshed from a day off painting and, as I tried to urge him to postpone the third coffee, swap his bathrobe for walking boots, and come with me into the spring morning, he did what he does best – he made me hoot at my ridiculous compulsion to dam the flow and fence him in to a schedule the minute he rises.
“Little fences everywhere, you’re putting little fences up all the time! Just like the model farm I used to play with: ‘I’ll put a little white fence here to keep the cows in and one there to keep the dogs out, I’ll surround the house with a third for extra protection…..’”
Eventually, of course, having deconstructed my fences, he did have a third coffee and we did walk out across the dandelion studded vineyards and into the spring.
Taking a new route to the west, we found ourselves padding through orchards of wild plum trees with their intense pink buds, cherries just bursting into smile and almonds in full fluffy bloom. Dew lay like fairy foil over a field of new wheat whilst the sheep and village bells rung out a day of grace and grazing. A breeze was blowing from the south causing a diagonal rain of petals to fall from two almond trees that formed a magic arch over our two-pronged path. Surely the gates of heaven looked like this, we thought, as we passed underneath.
Bouncing back home, we made toast and sat to eat it in the vineyard. Having finished his, Julian reached for mine and took a huge bite.
“That’s mine!” I said, pulling my toast behind my coffee bowl.
Julian went up to his studio to paint and to be in a fenceless place. I followed him twenty minutes later, having once more struggled out of my self-inflicted pen, and tried to explain this:
“It’s not about you nicking my toast. It’s about guilt and calories. You see, I am only allowed” (by my self-inflicted rule book) “ two pieces of toast, even though there is plenty more bread on the table. If you take half of one, I cannot simply go and get another because I’ve already exhausted my ration, whereas you, fenceless and free, can simply go plop another slice in the toaster.”
This sad rationale is related to:
‘If someone else bought it, it has no calories’
‘Someone else’s leftover chocolate mousse is not fattening’
I don’t actually consciously believe any of this shit but sometimes I see the messed up little machine of my unconscious at work and I wonder what it would be like to open the almond gates of heaven every time I felt insecure, instead of putting up another fence.