Here’s part two of the script I started last week: Annus mirabilis.
While having breakfast at a bar, D witnesses the death of a 30 year old woman sitting right behind her, who has a sudden heart attack. Moment of being for D. She is linked directly to God. She agrees with Marjane Satrapi that God looks a bit like Marx. She gathers the following conclusions: that life can change, but it won’t change by itself. The utilitarian vision of the invisible hand guiding you towards what’s good for you is actually a fraud, and you have to reach out for what you think is best and claim it for yourself. And the other half of this truth is immediately transparent: that you have to stay away from what is harmful for you. That being good isn’t enough, that it won’t change things you dislike around you; it can only give you access to cloud nine, eventually (a fact she seriously doubts, and God doesn’t give the slightest hint about it, either), but won’t have any impact on your present life. As a result, she leaves her home and goes to stay at a couple of friends’ house for a month, and then at her step-father’s, while her flat is being cleared up at her request. Admitting these truths makes her seriously wish to be buried alive, or deep-frozen.
After a few days spent freely floating around the known universe in Major Tom fashion, D receives the taxes she’s to pay for the remainder of the year and is sharply pulled back to earth: they’re just short of 15.000 Euros, to be paid in 5 easy monthly installments. How do they look? Like a plain PDF sitting in her mailbox. All her inheritance is gone. However, the strange correspondence between the amount of taxes and the sum of money she’s just come to own makes her start to believe in luck coming her way. During this time, she carries on on her routine of horse doses of chamomile tea and valerian at 4 o’clock each morning and a ritual of self-inflicted punishment and utter psychic torture at 4 o’clock each afternoon. By the end of the month, she goes back living in her own flat, alone.
D quits her job. Her company (God bless them) accepts to work with her as a freelancer again. She spends the rest of the month calculating how many days, hours, minutes, seconds, coffee breaks, cigarette breaks, lunch breaks, emails she has to send, how many steps of the stair she has to walk up and down, and so on, ‘til the last day in her office, which is also her birthday. She lives in a routine made of parting from and welcoming back her ex once a week, which can be condensed in the phases: “Go away” / “But I love you now” / “Stay then” / “Oh well, I’m not sure”.
[Note for me: look for appropriate onomatopoeia for sounds of slaughter, struggles, and shattered pottery. Also keep an updated record of all the weapons that have flown around the house.]
Completely dejected and worn out, in
after a warm embrace, good wishes and a necessary goodbye, we find D at home, alone with the dog.
She doesn’t remember the precise outline of what happened to her in that month, so everything must be depicted as some sort of blurry holing up.
[Cartoon of D rambling around the house wrapped in her duvet in a constant slumber, working and repeating every action or sentence tons of times.]
Balance of the month: she issues the highest invoice of her entire working life; she buys a camera; she spends all her nights on pathetic chats/phone calls with friends, strangers, anyone; she draws a fantastic tree growing hearts.
D decides to pick up all the pieces of herself. Time for some serious suffering mixed with anticipation and new projects. Which, now that I think of it, is a good description for the first step toward happiness: happiness being something else from the absence of pain (an aponia only achieved by a life under self-imposed anesthesia and which eventually leads to emptiness and staleness), but a balance and an acceptance of joy and sadness, two things that can’t go alone. She receives daily calls from people reminding her to eat and sleep, as she spends most of her time drawing and taking pictures and writing. She is hallucinating and is seriously convinced of being devoid of all skin. When asking around, she finds out that this is what they call “to feel”. She cries out loud watching Disney movies. She laughs heartily at merry things. She starts to go through extraordinary epiphanies (completely drug-free), processing all the year’s events, and expressing them. And, just before the year’s over, like a Lady Lazarus, she comes back to life by letting everything go and welcoming annihilating emotions and frequent losses of control, a herald of the infinite pleasures to come.
All the obvious “feminist-Cinderella” implications, all the retribution and compensation involved are just perfect for my purpose, don’t you think? The happy-ever-after is just implied, even doubtful, which is also great, a bit like the ending of “Portrait of a Lady”. It could be made into a movie, maybe, and all the hints at happiness could be ideal from an emotional point of view, and would eventually lead to a fantastic sequel. Speaking of which, I have my own theory: that joy is difficult to tell. One usually tries to give away pain and sadness and keeps bliss to oneself. It’s a feeling we wish to contain and not to let go. That’s why most of the time people speak in wonderful detail about their hard times, and skip their present joy with a very convenient fade out.