- Published: 29 March 2022
- ISBN: 9780143775805
- Imprint: RHNZ Vintage
- Format: Trade Paperback
- Pages: 272
- RRP: $38.00
So Far, For Now
So far, for now
How this new condition
changes language, not we
or us or ours
but I and me
and mine, mine alone
the hollow hours.
‘Sleep a little longer,’ my husband said, that morning. ‘You have a long day ahead of you.’
‘It will be the last time I go,’ I said. ‘No more travel. I’m going to be at home with you. Summer’s coming and we’ll spend it together.’
‘I know,’ he said.
We had always been on the move, that is how we were, but always, too, homing in, back to our house on the hill. I had kept going here and there longer than Ian, but then I was younger. I knew how he waited for me to return each time I jumped on a plane to go somewhere – to Europe, to a festival or just away for a day, like this trip to Auckland for a reading, some book sales.
His frailty was increasing. What was more important? I asked myself. The public life of a writer, or spending precious time with the person with whom I had shared my life? When I said that the travel was over, this was the last trip, I knew Ian was happy, although he had never tried to hold me back. This was another thing about us: we gave each other freedom to be who we were, to go where we pleased, to share the company of others. But, of late, I had sensed that my absences had become harder for him.Two weeks earlier I had finished writing my novel, This Mortal Boy. It had been an all-encompassing process, consuming my thoughts day and night.
‘Thank you for coming back to me,’ he said, a few days after I announced that I had arrived at the end of the book.
‘I never left you,’ I said. ‘I was there all the time.’
He had shaken his head. And I suppose in a sense I was away when I wrote. As I suppose I am now, although there is nobody here to notice one way or another.
The reading went well. In the taxi back to the airport I rang and told him all about it. But I was tired that night. At the airport I learned that the plane was running late. I left my phone in the tray when I went through security. I was called on the PA system to collect it. That meant going back and through security again, and then proving that it was my phone. And then the plane was delayed again. At home, we were due to watch The Brokenwood Mysteries, our favourite-of-the-moment Sunday night programme. Just watch it, I told Ian. You don’t have to wait for me. But he said he would record it so we could watch it together when I got home, or the next night, it didn’t matter.
For the next hour or so, until we finally got under way, I read Diana Wichtel’s fine memoir, Driving to Treblinka, about her search for her missing father. I rang Ian again when we got into Wellington, around 11 p.m., and told him I’d be there in a few minutes. I had taken up the offer of a taxi chit because I didn’t want him driving out in the dark. He was due to give up his beloved old Mercedes sports car in the next week or two. He’d accepted that.
He was there waiting for me when the taxi drew up.
There is a long flight of stairs up to our house. The cable car wasn’t working that night. Ian had come down, torch in hand. I berated him for doing so.
‘Hurry on up,’ he said. ‘It’s cold and I’ve got the house nice and warm and all the lights are on. Keep going.’
So hurry I did. I passed him and then, two steps ahead, I heard Ian fall. The thud. That sound will stay with me always.
There are some writers who would tell you the last detail. I’m not one of them. I thought I was, but I’m not.
October 1955. If Albert Black sings to himself he can almost see himself back home in Belfast, the place where he came from.
For much of the year I had been awaiting the go-ahead on what was potentially one of the most demanding, exhausting, but exhilarating acting roles I’d ever been offered.
MY NOVEL TURTLES ALL THE WAY DOWN was published in October of 2017, and after spending that month on tour for the book, I came home to Indianapolis and blazed a trail between my children’s tree house and the little room where my wife and I often work
After my parents married, they found it impossible to find accommodation, and for much of the time during the first two years or more had to live separately at the homes of relatives.