Monday, 13 December 2010
I’ve given up the booze again. I do it periodically. It’s not like I drink a huge amount anyhow. I stopped drinking wine quite some time back so a stray bottle the other night was a bit of a shock to the senses.
‘But all writers drink,’ said a friend. ‘Or take drugs.’
It reminded me of my first attempt at writing a novel, back in my early twenties when I went to live in the USA. My brother gave me a bottle of a gin and a bag of dope. ‘Disorder the senses,’ he said.
Mine were disordered enough already – by the crashing waves right outside the house; by playing Bach so loud it echoed around my ribs; and by doing way too much esoteric wandering. I could see the auras of trees, of the dogs running after my bicycle – and that was all before I touched a drop of gin.
The book, needless to say, was absolute garbage. But I had the best time. Did some courses in neurolinguistics; pondered teaching ESL; gave up the idea. Spent a lot of time in art galleries and museums; got a serious gym habit; met some great people; never did get much of a tan.
We camped in redwood forests and rode with cowboys in the panhandle of Texas; ate wholemeal muffins in hippy cafes in Northern California and sushi in sterile restaurants in LA. My soul shrank from Vegas, so much that I couldn’t leave the motel room. But it soared in San Fran, smiling at sea otters, laughing and swapping dresses with drag queens. Had the biggest fight ever at the Grand Canyon. Gazed at landscapes so large, the horizon curved. Felt tiny, a speck on a small planet spinning in a vast universe which was spinning in infinity. Felt the dry air of the desert blow over my skin and soothe my soul.
God, I miss the States. God, I miss that freedom.
I know that sounds crazy; it probably is crazy. It’s scary as hell but it feels horribly right. Even the not sleeping bit. I’m writing this at 4.30am. I’ve been awake for two hours. I’ve read a book already and my eyes are red sore. I’m shaking, as if all my cells were being rearranged, being put back into the right order. And I have no idea what happens next.
Weirdly, it feels good.