Scary stories from a lovely place
Pierces my senses
I close my eyes
And see smouldering flames
This is the first stanza of a poem I wrote when I was 19. I won’t show you the rest, it’s as poorly written as it is boring. It’s full of an overuse of adjectives and no concept of the rhythm or cadence of poetry.
Truth be told I’m not even sure if I was regretting something in particular or reflecting on it as an emotion. The flames could be a reference to hell which would suggest I had done something bad. But I usually use flames to connote anger of the white hot kind, so that’s more likely what was in my mind. Or it could just be that flames are a stereotypical image to use in poetry (think Dante’s Inferno).
Whatever it was all those years ago I’d love to be able to say I’ve grown up, I’ve matured and don’t feel like this anymore. But I do. I regret most decisions I’ve made – big and minor. Some of these regrets I’m able to think objectively about. Though I may regret a decision, I can see the way it led me to other, good things in life, things that I like. For a while there I regretted moving to Johannesburg. Even before I had gone I felt trepidation and regretted it before it had even happened. But if I hadn’t gone, I wouldn’t have met Stephen, who I definitely don’t regret. And eventually the Joburg regret subsided too, hence KimlovesJozi.
Other decisions are unregrettable, like having kids. Motherhood is all consuming. I am inhabited by these two little people 24/7. Sometimes in the darkness of the early morning rocking a screaming boy or when I see how much freedom other people have to travel, study, work or relax I want to regret them. But I just can’t. Even when I don’t really like Silas and Oisín I still adore them. Or sometimes I’ve regretted having them when we did, so soon in our marriage. But then I realise if we had waited we wouldn’t have Silas and Oisín. We’d have other cool kids – like a Jesse, or a Precious or a Ewan. But for now I like Silas and The Little Deer.
At the moment I’m feeling some regret that I can’t see my way out of. Some days it’s okay, just a sharp memory here and there like small, red chillis on a young plant. Other days everything is a reminder and my heart feels like a laden lobster pot bumping along the floor of my stomach. Some days I can corral the strength to winch the heavy mass back into my chest, others I close my eyes at the end of the day, heavy with salt.
I would love the gift of hindsight. With it there would be no room in my day for regret, no pondering, no speculation. I would be able to see through a decision, past the implications and into a new day.