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Senses of Self
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Senses of Self I: Parallel Universe 
Performance, 20 minutes 

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Her: Wow, it's been a while. I hardly recognise you. 

Me: I could say the same. 

Her: Well, that's motherhood, I guess. 

Me: I, I'm dying to know what she's like. 

Her: Um, how did you know that it was a girl? 

Me: Just a feeling. Mother's intuition, I guess. 

Her: Well, um, she is a handful. But, but she's the single most beautiful thing I have ever held in my arms. 

Me: And, what does she look like? 

Her: Her mother, of course. She has these, these big eyes, like the sea. But, but more of a silver -blue colour, like the Atlantic on an overcast afternoon. She's got this porcelain skin and little chipmunk cheeks. And she has a, she has a mole just over her left eyebrow. And, and this shot of silky white-blonde hair. 

Me: It's, it's just how I imagined her. And she's a handful, is she? 

Her: Yeah. She's just curious about absolutely everything. You know, you take your eyes off her for a second and she's gone. Halfway up the garden trellis chasing a moth or something. But anyway, you can always find her. She's such a chatterbox. 

Me: She must be coming up for what? Two? 

Her: Yeah, she's two next month. 

Me: Wow. I can't believe how quickly It's all gone. I really miss her sometimes, you know. I found myself at the young V&A recently. I wandered around for a bit, but I couldn't really focus. And I found myself in the cafe trying to write something. Failing. But watching all the little kids running around in the foyer. Laughing. Falling over. Crying. And getting up again. Laughing. And I, er... I pictured you. Running after her. And picking her up. 

Her: That, that sounds about right, actually. 

Me: And how are you, anyway? How's motherhood treating you?

Her: I'm tired. It feels like I haven't slept for two years, maybe, but... she, she's my world now. And I really can't imagine what life would be like without her in it. 

Me: I mean... Do you want to know? 

Her: Erm... I'm actually... I'm really not sure. Between looking after her and... and going back to work. I don't know, I've never really had the time to think about what could have been. Are you happy, at least? 

Me: Yeah, actually, probably the happiest I've ever been. I mean, it's not to say that it's not hard, sometimes. Or that I don't feel like an impostor.

Her: Oh my God. So you did it? 

Me: Well...

Her: You quit? You left the law?

Me: I thought you said you didn’t want to know?

Her: I said I wasn't sure if I wanted to know. 

Me: Well, you’re evidently still a lawyer then. 

Her: Um, and you are... What? Exactly?

Me: I'm an artist. I'm doing an MA in Fine Art. 

Her: You... you got into art school? 

Me: Yeah. 

Her: I... I'm speechless. I can't believe you really left it all behind. You're... You're braver than I thought. 

Me: Everyone always says that. But, uh, it’s quite an alien concept to me. Bravery. It doesn't feel brave. I mean, you're the one that had the bloody... 

Her: And you are the one who had an abortion. So that you could pursue a dream that felt completely out of reach to you. I know what was going through your mind back then, Abbie. Remember? I... I was there. 

Me: I, um... I was just afraid...


Her: Afraid that you'd be an unfulfilled mother. And that your child would suffer, as a result of that. 

Me: And are you? Fulfilled?

Her: Um...I won't allow myself to think about it. I really only think about her. When I look at her, I can't imagine feeling more fulfilled even if I tried. But having to go back to work and, well, leave her behind, that was really quite hard. 

Me: Yeah. I mean, the working hours must have improved, at least. 

Her: Well, yeah, you'd think so, but... Well, it's not a coincidence that nobody else on our team has kids, let's say. 

Me: Jesus. I mean, how do you cope?

Her: Well, I've got no choice. Really, I have a mortgage to pay. She needs a home to grow up in and... and I've got somebody to be responsible for. Someone... someone who is completely reliant on me.


Me: You must be able to take some kind of in-house legal position. Something so you can spend a bit more time together?

Her: I really, really wish I could but... we can't afford to take the pay cut at the moment. I mean you know his salary isn't good enough for that. We needed a place in London, big enough for the three of us. All at relatively short notice. It just makes sense that I work and he stays at home with her. 

Me: I did wonder whether you two were still together. 

Her: What? You're... you're not? 

Me: No, actually we uh... we grew out of each other, I think. We stopped understanding each other. We stopped trying to understand each other, at least. So uh... yeah. 

Her: Since the abortion?

Me: I think so. It's um... It's hard to pinpoint exactly. I found out that I was pregnant in his bathroom. And he told me there was nothing embarrassing about getting an abortion. He thought I was trying to trap him and... 

Her: You felt like he didn't have the capacity to connect to it all, emotionally. In the same way you did?

Me: Yeah, exactly. And he didn't have the capacity to connect to me emotionally. Not in the way that I really needed him to. But did he learn to at least, after she was born? 

Her: Well, I mean, he loves her to bits. He adores her, but I do feel his frustration. He internalises it, like he always does, but it manifests itself in this kind of, coolness, towards me. I think he resents me for ruining his career. Not that he will ever admit that, of course, but it's obvious. But we're trying, for her sake. Anyway, enough about me. I want to know more about you and being an artist. You're still painting, or, or what? 

Me: Performing, actually. And writing. And a bit of sculpture, I guess. 

Her: Wow. Really? A performer? 

Me: Yeah. 

Her: It's funny, you know, that medium didn't even cross my mind back then. 

Me: Yeah, me neither, obviously. 

Her: And what kind of performances are they, exactly? 

Me: Dialogues, mostly. I write scripts. Conversations. 

Her: Between who? 

Me: With myself, mostly. 

Her: Wait, um, are you doing it right now? 

Me: Uh... 

Her: Are people watching? 

Me: Maybe...

Her: Uh... 

Me: Do you mind? 

Her: I mean, well, I guess... I guess not. Um... It's quite... quite flattering, actually. To know that, uh... my voice can still have a say, artistically. I really thought that my creativity dried up when my breast milk came in. 

Me: Come on, if it's in me, then it's still very much in you too. I'm sure. 

Her: Well, by that logic, she's still very much in you too. 

Me: Yeah, maybe more than I'd realised actually. When I was writing this script, it struck me that she is always the subject of my performances around her birthday. And I noticed that I literally applied to art school the week I was supposed to give birth. 

Her: Well, you did give birth, in a sense. To your voice. Your artistic voice. And from where I'm standing, it sounds like it's loud enough for the both of us. 

Me: You really think that? Abbie? Abbie? 


Senses of Self II: This Universe 
Grass, earth, leaves 

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