When my loom band hobby becomes obsession Mum renames me. Take it as a compliment, she says, it’s a cool tune. Don’t say cool, Mother, I say, resolving never to listen to said tune. But someday I will. Although only ten, I know this. Generation Zedders are pathologically inquisitive, you see. Ignorance makes us twitch. Our devices lure insatiable digits from pockets, from sleep, from our lovers’ naked skin. They whisper constantly to weary minds of boundless insight. And we fall for it every time.
So it comes to pass, aged 15, that a vlogger’s namecheck stirs my curiosity. I remember that Loomer, my onetime nickname, is a song by this band, My Bloody Valentine. A few quick taps and there it is. I play it through, my face relaxing into an admission: for old shoegazey nonsense, Loomer isn’t bad. My punk-activist boyfriend, nose-sighing at a programme about the thawing permafrost, raises an eyebrow.
I listen again in quiet appreciation. And again, mesmerised.
I’ve never been heartbroken so barely register Loveless as the title of the album. I discover that listening to the whole of Loveless is like hitching a noisy sleeper train to an ethereal realm. Or, less poetically, like wandering in a drug-addled dream – the one had by my parents and the rest of the Gen X slackers.
Loomer is track two. I try to appreciate it in the context of the others, recalling what my Mum has said about The Album as art form. ‘Loomer follows the explosive opener like a sweet rum chaser’: I write, fishing for likes amongst the YouTube comments. The truth is I don’t drink rum, never even tasted it, but I swallow Loveless, in all its beguiling emptiness.
In the five years since breaking my resolution, I’ve perfected an occasional ritual. I set Loomer to repeat, pour myself a pint of wine – I hardly drink so this is worse than it sounds – and make a pathetically weak joint. Just like the amount of weed, the volume is critical. The music must be loud enough to fill the room but not so loud it scares her away.
I close my eyes as beanbag sag takes the weight of my head. My mouth is loose, anticipating the curves of that hush-quiet murmur, those empty breeze-borne lyrics.
To the holy places,
Where you going now?
It’s an incantation of sorts. For she doesn’t just rock up, my inner-space avatar.
Upon arrival Loomer is all industry. She busies herself gathering intrusive thoughts of sea level rise, ecocide, desertification, pandemics, terrorist attacks, despotic leaders, social breakdown, debt, joblessness, and the pros and cons of childlessness, and she swathes them all in soothing reverb. The process is as efficient as the post Glastonbury clean-up, and it ends with my worries bagged and ready for dispatch.
Mum, Dad, you’re so right (aren’t you always?). Of course it’s possible to block it all out, to tackle life one day at a time – but only if you keep your eyes closed.
And here’s the thing: I can’t. None of us can. Call it a snowflake quirk but we are pathologically terrified, insatiably anxious. We know, however it might salve us, that ignorance is worse than death – ignorance guarantees our extinction.
You could say that fighting for survival is my hobby now. You might even say it’s my whole life.
Lucy Goldring is a Northerner hiding in Bristol. She has been shortlisted by Flash 500, the National Flash Fiction Day (NFFD) and Retreat West and won Lunate Fiction’s monthly flash competition in July. Lucy was nominated for Best Small Fictions 2020 by both NFFD and 100 Word Story. Tweets @livingallover