How To Build A Skeleton Heart: love letters

How To Build A Skeleton Heart: love letters

            January 2010

Hello there

How are you?

I decide to try and be a Nanny. It is a raint freezing morning in London as I make my way to an office in the city for an interview. I have a resume that I emailed and think that it must be good. All my teaching experience and they don’t know about my failed attempts at emergency teaching here in London. I left that out. Im wearing my eighteen lace up dock martens to protect my feet from the rain and puddles. My head is kept warm by a purple beanie I got from Top Shop. I will gush about that place later. 

I get lost as always but I finally find my way to the Nanny agency. It is a small hot room that I am showed into. An old woman straight out of a fairy tail involving a witch with a bad attitude, looks up at me without smiling.  What proceeds is the most awkward and unpleasant conversation I have ever had in a job interview and I cried during an interview at a infant day care centre.

This woman asks me what my parents do for a living. My parents? I say. Why is that relevant? The woman snaps that I do not have any right to question what her clients want in an employee. Did they study and if so what do they do now?

Oh shit. I think. I say that they are farmers and did not go to university. I want to slap this woman for the look she gives me. I did though. I say. I studied… I get cut off and the rest of the interview is very short and to the point. She cannot and will not place me with any families. I am far away from an appropriate person to even meet with any of her families.  It is still eaining when I get back outside and I cry on my way to the train. 

I decide to look into being an Au Pair. I could do that anywhere in the UK maybe even leave London and go back to Manchester. This makes me hopeful. I look into the way families chose someone to live with them and look after their children. Its fairly straight forward. I talk to parents on the phone and they tell me what they are looking for and how much a week they will pay. It is not much. It seems the room and board thing is used to make you work with their most precious babies for no more than between 20 – 40 pounds a week. That’s basically pocket money. I wont be flying to Praugue and seeing the Bone Church any time soom like I have been wanting to since planning this trip.  I talk to a single mother with an adopted 5 year old. She sounds amazing and lives in Brighton. But the amount she can pay is just not enough.

Finally I get a call from a woman  called Jill who lives in Manchester with her partner Haley and their two small daughters Ada age 3 and Rosa age 4. When I tell Jill that I am a qualified Teacher she agrees to add 20 quid to my weekly pay. Jill sounds lovely and asks me what I like to do as she lives at the end of the Altricham tram line and is worried that it may be too isolated. I tell her that’s fine a tram into the city is good enough for me. I like reading and music I tell her. She checks my social media and shows photos of me to her daughters. I get the job before meeting them in person.

Even though I do not get the job in Brighton I decide while waiting for Jill to call me back, I will take a day trip to Brighton by getting a bus. I have very little money but the bus fair is not too bad and I don’t eat much. I listen to music on my ipod as I sit on the bus and stare out the window at the cold snow fallen scenery. I think of you and I also think how amazing it is that im here all on my own doing what I have to do to survive. I am excited to look after little kids with Manchester accents.  The bus ride is long. I have snacks in my back pack and a bottle of water to save on buying anything.

At the bus stop I ask a young woman in a hajib if she could take my photo with my camera. I set up the photo: its me sitting with my backpack with Mildrid my small cat soft plush with the huge button eyes. I want the photo to show me talking with Mildrid, my faithful travel companion since I purchased her at the airport in Bangkok.  The young woman agreed and seemed quite amused by my request. 

Brighton in January is a ghost town. There is nobody about and the pier is deserted. I wander around anyway utterly enthralled by how cold and empty it is. The ocean is actually frozen. Ive never seen such beauty. I thought the beach in winter back home was my happy place. I was wrong. Walking alone up and down the pier at Brighton Beach, watching the ice capped water flow and splash about under a grey sky, with only me around. It felt like I was in a wonderfully meaningful film ending or beginning. The moment where the heroin remembers who she is and what matters truly to her. I feel free. I find a record store and art gallery and explore them. I buy a record so I can always remember this day that I spent in Brighton on a winters day.  It’s a Of Montreal Albumn, one I have not been listening to obsessively on my ipod. I hope I do like it when I finally do get to listen to it.  I place Mildrid on a shelf in the record store and take photos of her in the punk section.  I set up the timer on my camera and manage to get some loner girl photos of me sitting at a table on the pier with Mildrid, the icy ocean below and the cold grey sky above.  As I am trying to make Mildrid stay standing on a ledge near a poster for a concert, old couple walk up to say hello to me.  They are wearing matching coats and scarves. We chat as the wind blows an icy pack of needles into our faces.

It starts to get dark as I board the bus back to London.

This will be my last letter to you written from London in this room. I will be in Manchester or more accurately Greater Manchester within the week. Living in a slit leval semi detached house  with poper windows and central heating. I will be living with a same sex couple who each had one of the babies via sperm donors. Haley had Ada and Jill had Rosa.  Im so excited to leave London. To have a job that I think I will be good at and will no longer have to stress about what a failur I am. I mean its not a fancy job like Lauren and those girls have but its something. Its better than nothing.

Maybe I will see a doctor there who is not suspicious of my medical requirements. That would be a relief.

till next time

JX