Cricket’s Slice of Life this week had a prompt which reminded me of a funny time in my life.
The prompt is a secret passion.
I had a secret passion once. It lasted for about three months. I had just had my son and was feeling bloated and frumpy, decidedly unattractive. There are lots of things people don’t tell you about the early days of motherhood. The faint smell of soured milk that follows you wherever you go. How you are so tired you often put on clothes inside out or do up buttons incorrectly so that your tops are all puffy and hanging the wrong way. Or that your hair looks unkempt no matter how often you brush it. And that you have a pattern from the couch cushion permanently embossed across your face as a result of falling asleep face first in your own drool.
Suddenly, you feel invisible to the opposite sex. Often you are still wearing maternity clothes without the prominent bulge you had before. You feel dowdy and adrift in shapelessness. Men, who used to look at you before now look at you as if you are some kind of disoriented bag lady wearing someone else’s clothes.
I was ill-prepared for motherhood. I had glamourised it in my mind long before it happened, imagining a little bouncing cherub who slept when he was supposed to sleep and just gooed and gaahhed when he was awake, allowing me to carry on with my life as it was before. The reality of two or three hours sleep a night, an endless stream of poop and projectile vomiting and a constant high-pitched wailing (my own) threw me more than anything ever had.
My husband was no help. Bewildered is the only way to describe him. His efficient, uber-organised wife had been turned into a woman who wore the same apple puree encrusted T-shirt three days in a row and could no longer talk in complete sentences, losing her train of thought after four words due to sleep deprivation.
I stumbled through the day, forgetting about my desire for an end to war or a solution to world hunger. All I could dream of was the bliss of an undisturbed night’s sleep.
And then he came along. Like a knight in shining armour riding through the mists of Avalon. My saviour. My secret passion. My postman.
Jon was a New Zealander, a Maori. Tall, strong, gliding along the street like a dancer. No one in the history of the postal service had ever delivered mail with such grace, such flair.
He spoke to everybody. Gave Australia Post stickers to the kids. All the women in the street waited for his arrival every day around noon, putting on our lipstick and freshly-pressed frocks, forcing our babies into routines that worked around the mail delivery. We were bewitched by him, transported out of our domestic drudgery for a few minutes a day by his fleeting presence, imagining we were Desdemona to his Othello.
For five days in a row I got no mail. Jon didn’t stop and flash me the smile I had become so besotted with. In desperation, I began to send mail to myself. I signed up for information on products and courses I was not actually interested in. I’m sure Jon knew what I was doing but he didn’t say a word, merely handing me the mail with a flourish.
As he paraded down the street there was a collective sigh from every female resident. Hearts were aflutter. We were as giddy as a bunch of schoolgirls catching sight of a popstar. We fell into a frenzy of gardening, planting poppies, tulips and shrubs in a bid to catch his eye, decorating our mailboxes with little wooden birds and slogans ranging from the sickeningly sweet : All Mail Welcome Here to the more straight-to-the-point Postmen Always Deliver.
Like all good things my secret passion came to an end. The spell we were in thrall to was lifted off the street. Rather abruptly. Jon was transferred to Head Office, a coveted management position. The new postman was nice but he just didn’t have the mystique Jon had. All of a sudden collecting the mail was well, rather mundane.
My secret passion has been over for many years, but I still get a little frisson of expectation when I hear the letters and bills drop into the box. Just in case The Knight Of The Mail is back.