Looking across a windowsill overflowing with cut daffodils into the Churchyard, on the other side of a tall flint wall, across the lane. The Churchyard and Church buffering my room from the emotional maelstrom of the main house, which sprawled, unkempt, across the grounds.
My room was cluttered, of course, piles of books, shoes, conference papers, sweaters, and, somehow, more shoes vying for floor space with the guests and fashion magazines and spreads of snacks and cups of tea, acres of daffodils filling every potential vase-like container, daffodils purchased at a market in Newcastle, my friend mocking the frivolity of armloads of daffodils in my lap on British Airways. One is apparently permitted to take liberties at a tea party: sprawled across my bed, the gangly, ungainly Canadian, declaring the position divine, surrounded by feather duvet and down pillows, wallowing in the opportunity to be somewhere he had never been before and would, he knew, never be again.
The duvet represented freedom, independence, liberation. As many female undergraduates discover sex and then bob their hair in a break from the constraints of their high school persona, such was the duvet a declaration of sexual liberation from fidelity. Remaking identity as a woman, one bedsheet, one pillow, one comforter at a time. The new theory, announced to those who question, being that if one sleeps alone, it must be in comfort.
Every break-up, dalliance, flirtation, and fling followed with another addition to the altar of the bed. Others place marks on the headboard. I buy another antique hand embroidered pillowcase. When one has eight feather pillows, the pillowcases are a necessity. That man was a dreadful kisser, I recall, discovering an appliqued coverlet from the 1920's. The banker was a complete cad, but an amusing specimen of the type: another wool blanket. The man who loved me, whom I mistreated: more flannel sheets.
Each face, set of eyes, feel of hands translating into new linen, Egyptian cotton, flannel, lace, paisley, matlesse, embroidery, overstuffed, subtly striped addition to the boudoir. One of them became a bedskirt. Why have one bedskirt when one can own two? What is the final tally of linens for a one bedroom apartment?
The morning sunlight pours into the room, through curtains which were made from men's shirting, chosen because it resembles the delicate stripe of boxer shorts. The two cats have each claimed a pillow, leaving me to huddle under the duvet and rest my head on my arm.
reading No Signposts in the Sea
weather winter continues