We used a process called ‘bleach bypass’ during the making of one of my early short fiction films called ‘The End of Summer’. It entailed taking the 16-millimetre film through a convoluted system of washes in the lab that result in the picture having a strange, darkened, stormy texture to it. It almost appeared as if certain colors have been washed out and others had had their volume pumped up. Several films had done this before ours…indeed we nicked the idea from ‘Breaking the Waves’ by Lars Van Trier. We used the same lab baths of chemicals as ‘Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrel’s by Guy Ritchie.
The reason I am banging on about this is that with RP, (my eye condition), my colour vision is changing in a strangely similar fashion. Evidently I will loose it all eventually but at the moment there is such an interesting subtle dimming. Elegant almost and not yet melancholy. I am losing definition between browns and dark greens and blues but oranges and definitely reds glow. I can walk down a street and be suddenly surprised and moved by a potted geranium glowing like it’s on fire from a window.
Right now, grieving for Teelo and the cat ('Teelo and the Cat ' is going to be the name of my next rock band..) life is also feeling a little bleached yet also with these remarkable flashes of colour and sweetness. On arrival at JFK airport I had the most efficient and unpatronising assistance ever. Two young women met me politely off the plane and fast tracked me through customs, found my bag without even having to ask and whisked me into a taxi before I could say ‘Have a nice day’. Disabled assistance at airports is one of my particular pet hates and I was so surprised by this turn of events I was still grinning when I stumbled out of the cab in front of my cousin’s house. She was with her three-year-old son, a handsome, curious and sweet boy, Ben, and the three-week-old girl Sophie whose little crumpled face emerged from under a hat that, though a size 0, still fell over her eyes. After being rugby tackled by the spaniel Orson and after Ben had been distracted by my cousin’s husband, she and I ended up at a cocktail bar, her still with the baby strapped to her bosom and me with cane and dark glasses, drinking the finest dry martini in the world. It started a delicious numbness rising from the feet up. By the time we got back to the apartment our tongues were not working. The evening became slightly surreal but somehow, as my cuz’s apartment was full to the very brim, I managed to get to yet another cousin’s apartment by yellow cab in time to politely fake sobriety well enough to be offered a room for the duration.
The next day Ben introduced me to a friend as ‘my cousin…her eyes are broken!’ He was both fascinated, confused and slightly scared of the situation. I showed him how I used my cane to ‘feel’ where things were on my peripheries by tapping around the apartment looking for him. He may need therapy later.
I fell in love with Sophie too. Each day I spent as much time as I could cooing and snoozing with her whilst my cuz got some desperately needed sleep or cooked for Ben or washed endless amounts of poo off various items of clothing. Sometimes my poor cuz would sit on the couch nursing Sophie, nearly weeping with exhaustion but often, when Ben was at school, we would walk and talk and laugh, her with Sophie strapped to her front and me gripping an elbow.
Holding Sophie in my arms was deeply moving. Babies change so fast and I swear in the short time I was there her green eyes began to focus on the world.
Halloween involved Ben in a chicken costume and Sophie oblivious, dressed as a pumpkin. I was ordered into a pair of bunny ears which went well, I thought, with the cane and glasses. Kind-of kinky blind bunny thing. It was hard, given it was New York, to tell who was actually dressing up for Halloween and my cuz and I nearly fell off the pavement with laughter when a tourist approached a tall blonde man in a bathrobe and white socks and asked the significance of his costume only to be told …he wasn’t in costume. The tourist blanched and rapidly backed away.
And then it was time to go and there I was back at JFK. This time when I asked for assistance it all went the usual way… I was asked if I wanted a wheelchair. I pointed out (yet again) that there was nothing the least wrong with my legs but to no avail. So I flailed my way through alone, managing to hold down my dinner through the dreadful hour of turbulence at 35,000 feet when we bumped the edges of hurricane Noel and here I am back in Cambridge.
Coda: I had dreaded coming back to the flat. The last thing I had done was smash up Martina’s bowls in a fit of guilty anguish and I couldn’t for the life of me remember taking out the garbage…but S my dear friend had snuck in whilst I was away and cleaned the whole place from top to bottom, washing and hiding away Martina’s things and leaving a couple of pot plants and a welcome note on my white board. See flashes of great sweetness come out of the blue even when things are all a little grey.