Everything happens for a reason, so they say. There is a chance to learn and grow even from bad experiences. I get that. I really get it, but sometimes I get sick of being pulled back into the negative energy of the past.
My brother-in-law is drinking again. It didn’t take him long. The violence that comes with the drinking is back too, in full force. He has already said he is going to throw my sister off the balcony of the first floor of their new house.
I went round to see her and she confessed it all to me in a rush the way a child does when they are caught doing something wrong.
He doesn’t mean it, she says by way of justification. He doesn’t know what he is doing.
I wasn’t really listening to her, focusing on the purplish-red marks on her neck that almost completely matched the colour of the resplendent bougainvillea growing along her garden wall.
I have a thing about bougainvillea. I love it and I hate it. When I lived in my old house back in the golden age I had the most beautiful reddish-purpley bougainvillea growing in my garden. It took me three years but I trained it to run the full length of the garden wall. It was glorious. Butterflies supped on it, birds frolicked, even little lizards snuggled in the thick of it. It was such a pick-me-up to see it every morning; so vivid, so bold…. like something Mother Nature herself might wear as a train or cape to a ceremonial ball.
When we sold the golden age house the new owners pulled all the bougainvillea off the wall. They burned it off. There were black marks left behind where it had clung with frenzied fingers begging: Don’t, don’t, please don’t. Let me stay……
I remember when I saw the bougainvillea was gone I broke out into one of those shuddering, choking sobs that can be hard to control…blubbering away like a madwoman right there in the street.
Since then I have avoided bougainvillea as much as possible. When I know I am well and truly settled I will plant a length of it again, but not yet….not yet.
My sister knows how much I love bougainvillea. The garden is full of it, she said, excited to describe her new home. I was pleased for her in a tentative way…fresh starts can be daunting, hard to get used to…it’s best to approach them with baby steps….but marks on someone’s neck that match the shade of bougainvillea in the garden don’t really bode well for me…..not well at all.
I can’t deal with this, I said to her. You know where I stand. I can’t go through it all again.
We leave on a bad note. She is angry with me, I can tell, but I refuse to get sucked in to the labyrinth of her need and denial. I won’t do it.
On the way home I stop at the lights in front of a house I have driven past a hundred times before. There is bougainvillea running along the front fence – dusky purple. The evening light is being filtered through it, casting filigreed shadows on the ground. Maybe it is wishful thinking on my part, but it seems to signify hope. I drive home, a little less grimly than before, imagining long, purple capes trailing their magic on the ground.