Paul Varjak: The mean reds. You mean like the blues?
Holly Golightly: No. The blues are because you’re getting fat, and maybe it’s been raining too long. You’re just sad, that’s all. The mean reds are horrible. Suddenly you’re afraid, and you don’t know what you’re afraid of. Do you ever get that feeling? (source 1 + 2)
On Wednesday I woke up with the ‘mean reds’. I was off kilter because I had slept in past my alarm, missed my run, and the sky was boiling with storm clouds again. Sometimes these things all add up to nothing. They have no effect on what my Dad calls your ‘equilibrial balance’. Other days they tip you over the edge and your whole day, your whole life, becomes the Titanic post iceberg. That is what the ‘mean reds’ feels like to me.
I am so lucky to have a host of beautiful people around me to act as my lifeboats when I am sinking fast.
On Wednesday that was my Mum. If anyone can take my ‘mean reds’ and paint a rainbow over them, it is Mum.
She endured my grumbles, my indecision, and my reluctance to get out of the house. (When my ‘mean reds’ strike I can hole up in the house for days, refuse company, and do a wonderful impersonation of a modern-day hermit.) We made our way somewhere new, somewhere I had been wanting to explore for a long time but never made it to, and we set about having an adventure.
There is nothing to cure a case of my ‘mean reds’ than the promise, even the mere suggestion of, an adventure.
We fortified ourselves with coffee from a new coffee and creative space crush, put on our imaginary pith helmets, and wandered into the unknown. With Mum by my side, and an adventure in my sights, those ‘mean reds’ never stood a chance.
Mum was my White Rabbit and I gladly followed her down into the Wonderland of the Woolloongabba Antique Centre. We traipsed up and down the aisles of antique, vintage, and retro furniture, clothing, jewellery, books, and related (or unrelated) paraphernalia. There were bits and bobs that called to mind times in my childhood; parts of my mother’s past, and her mother’s past, that popped out and demanded that we share their stories with each other; porcelain cups and pots that had seen many ‘only over a cup of coffee’ conversations; books bearing inscriptions of love and friendship; dresses that were meant to be danced in – over and over again; jewellery whose worth lies not in carats but in the passage of years, and hope and tears, that it has witnessed; and, those pieces of life that at the time we do not realise the value of until we are staring at someone else’s past.
There is a comfort in holding a piece of the past, of a before-you-existed time, and knowing that surely someone else who is written into its unrecorded provenance has felt exactly what you are experiencing in that moment. Someone else has felt that lost, that anxious, that afraid of something unknown.
There is also a comfort in knowing that when you are having a ‘mean reds’ day you can call on someone to pull you out. Then down they come with their rainbow paint. They resist the storm clouds, and bundle you into the car. Buy you coffee and a chocolate meringue. Walk with you through the past. Talk about a future. Delight in a delicious lunch, and two massive pots of tea (English for her, Irish for me). Pretend to read your tea leaves and bring you to happy tears with the prediction of your dreams coming true in a decade. Then laugh with you when you decide that you really can’t leave without the 1933 edition of Pocahontas and the 1906 edition of Lady Baltimore. Even though your bookshelves are already stuffed to overspilling. Someone who knows your weakness for novelty salt and pepper shakers, and takes the trouble to show you the Idaho potato pair, and the dancing pineapples.
Thanks Mama. Your blue eyes bring blue skies that diminish any ‘mean reds’.
Here is to our next adventure. I promise no ‘mean reds’ will be invited.
So tell me, dear reader, who beats back your ‘mean reds’?
Do you have a cure for those days when you seem lost and anxious about something anonymous?