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Cutting muslin

Remember when ‘hybrid, multi-arts exhibitions’ were all the rage? Live theatre or sculpture in front of projections, scrolling across tulle or muslin? My life’s been feeling like that lately. So removed am I from the reality of my true work/home balance that I’m starting to feel like a performer in someone else’s show.

Never more so is that true than when I go back to the small seaside town I grew up in (see previous joyful post about it HERE). Last weekend I popped down on the coach for a couple of days, which is a 4-hr trip. We used to call it ‘Little D by the Sea’ in the old days when CB Radio was a brief, furious fad (remember that?) [I can’t believe how old I just sounded]

I left ‘15’ to groove his way round London with his cool cousin and Uncle, our first break since we left home Sept 14.

‘D’ remains the same slightly worn out tourist destination it always was (you really DO need to read about it in my old post HERE), and as soon as I arrive, I feel the muslin draping over me.

What’s muslin, some of you ask? Let me turn to my dictionary:lightweight cotton cloth in a plain weave, like cheesecloth. ORIGIN early 17th cent: from French mousseline, from Italian mussolina”

muslin bone&

 It is also an effective metaphor for the old stories and projections that are thrown over me, muffling my way. My Mum sees me through the muslin of our childhood, her motherhood, her memories and expectations. My old friend ‘Sam’ sits weighed down in his chair by his muslin; he rarely leaves the house or street, has not worked for 20 years, and was choking on the cloth of stifled dreams. He and I talked for a couple of hours, and when I walked home in the cold night, I felt like retching, to clear my throat of his clagging doom. He lists all the people we used to know who have died; a thick black thread, with knots of heart attacks, a couple of brain aneurisms, and multiple drug overdoses.

I can hardly lift my arms or head, weighed as they are by the muslin history. I drag myself up through the park, across the muddy grass, gathering dead leaves and twigs on the hems of my cloth, and into Mum’s flat, where more reams of muslin drop upon me. I am defiant, difficult, selfish, bossy, plus noisy… Or is that all just how I wore my fabric years and years ago, when I was 5, 10, 15? Now I’m 49, and am I really still wrapped up tight in that material? I truly don’t believe so. Surely all that therapy, journaling and self-reflection wasn’t for nothing?!

But there’s the cloth, and the projections, and the sculptures of who people think I am, who they are, who they want to be, and who they want me to be. It’s a cheap show in a dusty old hall, and I’m tired of it. I’m ready to walk away from all this muslin; the weaves that cloud my vision, and cloud others’ vision of me. I’m tired of the Gabrielle who lived here aged 10-20, who visited at 25 & 30, who stayed away till she was 40. Get the cloth off me; encumber yourself as much as you choose, but keep it away from me.

I’m so ready to be back in the warm-skied, open land, where my friends and chosen family see Me, faults and all. I’m tired, a bit sad, quite worn out, and needing the clear comforts of Home.

We leave in two days for Australia, and I’m not making any room in my suitcase for muslin.

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