At eighteen I thought of family like a game of squash. You are the player and the walls are the family. With your racket you play the ball and it returns and you hit again. Game on. Stay on your toes. Relax. The ball may spin back at difficult or easy angles so stretch to play it back. That’s right. The thing about squash is it tests all your muscles, muscles you never knew you had right.
The walls in this game have a way of moving further away or closer. Each of your shots must predict the distance for the return to be effective. It’s a game that leaves no physical or mental part of you untested. It makes you fit and ill at times. You grow muscles to balance the strains and stresses, sometimes strange muscles in strange places. You find yourself exercising those muscles with future partners to their horror or pleasure. You may have to go physio in future if you don’t get that looked at. The game lasts a lifetime and however far away you are from the walls you are still playing.
This is what dawned on me. I had the ball. I had the squash racket. I would hit the ball with the racket and it would fly into the sky onwards onwards and I would experience, by merely keeping my eye on the ball, the slow withering of leg muscles until they and I fall to the floor followed over the ensuing years by my arms and shoulders and chest and head. The act of writing for me is the structure and I the player. Like family photographs, family arguments, births deaths and marriages writing was and still is proof that I’m alive at any given time whether or not it is read by anyone. For me, the game of writing, has all the elements that family has. I know my priorities. It’s all relative. At bottom family is proof that you exist by one group of people over a lifetime. Blogging is proof that something, whatever it is, happened at any given time – in lieu of family it’s what it is. My serve.