I wake this morning to cuddles in bed with son three, a rare treat as at almost twelve, he prefers to wake to cartoons. My mouth is claggy, my head’s in haze. We chat about the party and the dream I had of him living in an apartment somewhere I didn't recognise, a dream probably more vivid than usual because of the rich chocolate mud cake I ate with my cup of chamomile just before I went to bed at two this morning.
We both need a shower, he because he went to bed in his clothes after being too tired to bother changing into pyjamas at one this morning, and me because I must wash this thick layer that coats me, an accumulation that began the night before yesterday dawned.
After ten or so minutes, my cuddly son leaves me for the bathroom and I lift my body to creaks in my lower back to make a pot of oolong. By the time I've made my tea, son three is finished and it's my turn to wash that layer away. Not that it's an awful layer, just a heavy, busy one I want cleansed from me.
I stand under the warmth of the water and allow the droplets to rinse that first layer away. I sigh. The flounce in my hair flattens down past the first vertebrae on my back. I sigh again and swipe my hands over my eyes and forehead, down the back of my head. The preparation and planning of food and drinks, chairs and tables. Crockery, cutlery.
This dear man of mine loves to celebrate with big parties as last night, and he loves them to extend over days as this milestone fiftieth birthday has, by beginning the night before yesterday with a few close friends who are as family. His sense of fun and loyalty to them and our family is admired and reflected in the eighty plus who came last night.
I reach for the cotton washer to wipe at the oily layer over my face. I rub in circles over my skin. A communal effort brought this birthday party together with so many doing so much. Susi, Chrissy and Carolyn, Pat and Matt. Cooking and baking. Organising, setting up. Frank and Warren. The Boys. The Girls. Cleaning, tidying. Mum cleaning with me, Donna my confidant in the kitchen at the end of the night. Family as friends as family.
The skin on my face tingles and I feel satisfied that I've removed even the finest of residual layers. I squirt shampoo into my hand and lather my hair into a lush of light suds, revelling in the soft and luxurious. Pork and beef dancing round and round above coals, salads tossed and mixed. So much left over as is always at our parties. 'Better to have too much than not enough,' they say.
I extend my finger tips and scrub into my scalp, determined to release any party-particles clinging to the insides of the pores of my skin. I rinse until water runs clear and end with a silkening that releases all unsecured strands of hair.
Such laughter and joy mingle to mash on our deck. Singing and swaying, Joan and E, and sometimes music blaring. Old faces unseen for time upon time. Gerard, Ross and sweet Dominic. Smiles of lovely Lisa, unchanged over the years, Melissa my neighbour, Maree my ‘spesh’. They're all special.
Now my teeth, scrubbing and brushing to release every minuscule of last night. Why do some people over-indulge and lose their way. I scrub harder. Is it a despair that causes excess, where coherence leaves and obnoxiousness blooms? My gums hurt. A hiccup in splendour.
A lather of lemon scent, a tallow laden soap to remove the most stubborn of residues for the finish cleanse. Softness over from my skin emerges from the layers falling away.
Finally, I'm done, although only after a Bikram yoga class tomorrow will my cleanse be truly complete. Time for a cup of oolong before cleaning the remains of last night, yesterday and the night before.
A cleanse and a clean from which memories are immune.