Thursday, November 12, 2009

Welcome to Abode One Three

It is a privilege to introduce today's guest blogger, Matthew, from AbodeOneThree. Eloquent and poised, with a phenomenal sense of depth is exactly why it is privilege to have him here. Thank you Matthew for sharing the page with me.


At the age of seven, it felt as though I was never going to be them. It was just impossible to conceive back then; too far removed to even register as a whispered promise, an ominous prediction laced with foreboding. To be them, I would have to grow up. To be them, I would have to be eighteen; be a man. My parents assured me that it would happen in time; that it could not be stopped. They told me that one day I would be taller, older, that I would be just like them - but even at the age of seven I knew that my parents could not be believed. They had already tried to peddle the myth that vegetables were tasty and had been exposed as liars as soon as I had taken a forkful of cauliflower. I was sure that they were equally wrong now. At the age of seven I knew a lie when I heard one – and at the age of seven, becoming one of them felt as likely as choosing to snack on tomatoes as opposed to chocolate.

They seemed only to exist in the upper part of the city, spending their lives on Park Street and splitting their days between the bookshops, record shops and restaurants that defined it in the late nineteen-seventies. I loved that street and even at seven I wanted their lives; craved their identities, their independence. I wanted their intimate knowledge of those buildings, those shops sunk at unforgiving angles into the side of the hill, rooted deep into the tarmac and the paving stones. Back down Park Street, back down that imposing hill sat the other half of the city; the half on the flat, a maze of concrete and pedestrianised shopping precincts that the preceding decades spawned so prolifically. We would always begin our family visits to town down there on the flat; my parents dragging my brother and I kicking and screaming through department store after department store, shoe shop after shoe shop. It was a necessary evil; a means to an end - for if my brother and I managed to avoid fighting, if my parents managed to avoid fighting, if everybody got on and there were no arguments, no fights then there was a chance that we would leave the humdrum of the precincts and climb Park Street. It was a laborious, calf-burning ordeal which we would spread into shifts; split into hikes between shops, all the time moving us upwards, closer to the peak. Finally we would reach the top, stand in the long shadows cast by the university spires and look down upon the flat, over the city that lay beneath us - and it was always worth the effort; always good to be away from the department stores, the concrete and the grime. It was where I felt I belonged.

I would watch them come and go on Park Street, hurrying to lectures, from lectures; meeting friends for coffee or talking in the bookshops. I wanted to be them so badly; torn between wishing my youth away right there and then and struggling to comprehend that the day could ever come naturally where I stopped being too young, too short, too squeaky or too square. I was seven and they were eighteen, I was a boy and they were men - and at seven it felt as though I would never be a man, never. Surely it was too far away to ever come to fruition - too much time between seven and eighteen for something not to go wrong; for the Russians to finally drop the atomic bomb on us or for an asteroid to hit the earth and wipe us all out. Every time on Park Street, every time I saw them I would do the maths in my head: by the time I was old enough to officially be one of them the year would be 1990. That was the future, out of reach in the darkness and hidden from view. It was as alien as the thought of being a grown-up and at the age of seven, in the late seventies, I felt as though neither adulthood nor the nineties would ever arrive.

The fears I harboured as a seven year old would start to be confirmed before many more years had passed. There was indeed too much time between seven and eighteen for something not to go wrong, but the apocalypse did not involve a Russian warhead or an asteroid hitting the earth. When it began, the apocalypse was all my own work; the frenzied and naïve movement of a boy desperate to be a man before his time; desperate to fast-track himself to become one of them and taking short cut after short cut to try and reach where they were as early as possible. By the time it became apparent that I was not going to reach them, I had taken far too many turns into far too many dark alleys to re-trace my steps and it became impossible to find my way out of the maze, back to that seven year old boy to warn him how different things would be if he persisted; how far from his dreams reality would end up.

The boy I was thirty years ago put everything he had into growing up quickly. Inevitably he got his wish, grew up far quicker than any boy should. He would realise too late that this version of the future was not the one he really wanted; realise even later that what he really craved as a seven year old would require him to turn his back on them, accept that his endeavours would ultimately deny him their company. Instead, he would be tasked with finding his own place, his own comfort, his own skin to exist inside. It would take him many years to acknowledge, even more to truly accept – but the years he could not fathom as a child would provide time for him to learn – and learn he would, in time.

These days I look back at that boy with a man’s perspective and I look back on Park Street through older eyes. These days I think about that wide, steep street and see important, happy memories, not a tragic and bitter reminder of what could have been. Thirty years since him and I began our long and slow descent from the top of that hill, I think he would be accepting of how things turned out – but above all, I think he would be content to leave them to their own devices finally; content to leave the ghosts behind, back up the hill, back in the past. Back where they belong.

43 comments:

My name is PJ. said...

For me, this was so very much like the BEST book that comes to an end far too soon! I'm glad I found you and your blog! I shall be over there reading more of your posts!

Thanks, JennyMac!

the walking man said...

Is it that the dreams didn't come to pass as they were supposed to? Or that they came to pass differently than a seven year old could possibly interpret them?

I for one never would have considered wanting so much to be like them that I would have put myself into a pen that placed me in a line that ultimately led me to think like them.

sheila said...

He had me at the 'myth of the tasty vegetables' lol. This is great!

f8hasit said...

How fun for me to find that one of my favorite bloggers, Matthew, is over guesting at one of my other favorite bloggers place!

Well done Matthew.
And good choice JennyMac!
:-)

Lee the Hot Flash Queen said...

He's good Jenny Mac!

confused homemaker said...

The rush ahead sometimes is one we try for & then have to learn the hard way that the moments are what we are supposed to be living in. Growing up way too fast is a mistake or perhaps part of a larger experiences that a lot have been through.

Thank you JennyMac for featuring Matthew, I really enjoyed this.

Mel said...

Great post!

Joshua said...

I love Matthew's stuff and am glad f8hasit pointed me in his direction weeks ago. Much like everything else of his I've read, this was full of everything you could want in a story. There's only one more thing that is needed: a book.

Great choice, JennyMac.

-Joshua

Busy Bee Suz said...

Beautifully written..thank you for sharing with us!

Slamdunk said...

Well done Matthew.

Poindexter said...

Such a lovely way to begin my day. It does seem that time seems to soften things as we look back. Thank you for the introduction to yourself as a youngster. -Diane

Erin M. said...

My morning was off to a terrible start and then I read this. So incredible! I'll be off to visit & follow him shortly! Thanks for posting this, Jenny Mac!

Eva Gallant said...

great choice, Jenny! His posts are always amazing!

Intense Guy said...

You chose a wonderful guest blogger!

Hope you are enjoying your time away!

Shadow said...

i think every child wishes to hurry through childhood... if only we knew better then. but then again, they do say, wisdom comes with age right?!

Blogging Mama Andrea said...

Excellent essay/post! Thanks JM for introducing me to a new blog.

Kristina P. said...

This was a GREAT guest post! I don't normally read guest posts!

KaLynn said...

Matthew, Excellent post! I think you hit the nail on the head for many of us.

Supurb choice, JennyMac!!

Menopausal New Mom said...

Well done! Thank you for sharing and I certainly saw some of myself in that 7 year old you described!

Heather said...

You have a way of writing, so different from the fast choppy style usually associated with blog posts, that lures me in, makes me stop and read deeply leaving me thoughtful and appreciative. Thank you.

the broken down barman said...

that is one of the best things ive read for ages. Sounds so much like my story it nearly brought me to tears. well done

strokeofliving said...

Jenny Mac,

I hope your back doesn't go out on you having stuck your chest out so far with pride because you picked such a fantastic guest blogger. Yeah, don't let that happen, just chill and know that when you take a day off again that your blog is in good hands picking fine specimens like Matthew.

Chocolate Covered Daydreams said...

Loved it!!

Heather said...

Way too funny, being lied to about the vegtables! Felt as likely as choosing to snack on tomatoes as opposed to chocolate! Snort! LOL

staceyjwarner said...

Excellent writing...Jenny Mac, you picked a favorite of mine!

much love

M-Cat said...

Wow - I really loved this! And now, to check out his site and add yet ANOTHER great writer to my reader.....

Confessions of a Mother, Lawyer & Crazy Woman said...

Good choice! I liked this post very much. Great writing ...

Corrie Howe said...

How poignant! If only our older selves could convince our younger selves of these truths.

HalfAsstic.com said...

Awesome post! Two very trite things come to my trite little mind:
Childhood is wasted on the young, and what would life be without "if only's"?

foxy said...

Beautiful, as always, Matthew!

Great choice, JennyMac... hope you're enjoying yourself!

Baloney said...

I knew you'd pick Matthew.
Well done, as always!
Sometimes I wish I could go back to being seven and carefree.

blueviolet said...

Why is it that we must try to rush to adulthood before its time?

What a beautiful piece!

Mr. Charleston said...

Ditto to all of the above Matthew. Great work. However, now I'm wishing I could be one of "them", which would make me about 40 years younger!

Joanna Jenkins said...

I'm a huge fan of Matthew's writing. You selected an excellent Guest Blogger!
Thank you.
xo

Rowe said...

Nicely written, Matt. Perspective alters as we age.

Ellie said...

Very nice, Matthew :)

Jessie said...

Matthew, I think you should take this further, your writing techniques are inspiring -- and this story, absolutely wonderful!

warm smiles,

Rosie said...

I love alcohol-laced blogs! So I became a follower.

I have one of my own...Vino Bodega

kys said...

When I saw who your pick was, I was so happy. You picked a wonderful, gifted writer. I'm so glad that more people get to enjoy Matthew's work.

JennyMac said...

Such a beautiful post Matthew! You have a gift. Thank you for guest posting.

アダルトSNS said...

昨日友達とセフレを作るのが難しいな~、出会い系サイトの規制が厳しいはとか話してて、アダルトSNSのサイトが今のところは狙い目やって聞いたから使ってみたけど、近場で楽にセフレを作れてホンマ手軽やはwww

宝塚記念 said...

第51回 宝塚記念 2010 予想データを完全攻略!出走馬 枠順などからはじきだすデータは文句なし!これで平成22年の宝塚記念はもらったも同然!波乱の展開もあり

スタービーチ said...

スタービーチがどこのサイトよりも遊べる確率は高いんです。登録無料で新しい恋をGETしてみませんか