I have never lived anywhere, where there seemed to be so much village on my doorstep. A real community. Proud of the place where they live and sharing daily concerns: a lost Harris Hawk we have all spotted dancing on the rooves of the terraced cottages. A bambi knocked down. spindly legs splayed and asleep for always at the side of the road. And a boy, a boy, a BOY, eighteen and too young to be dead, murdered just five minutes up the hill. Sorrow and fright among us. One boy. All of our boys.
Tonight though. Just me here. The rain dancing on the conservatory and a key lime Charlotte on my favourite spotty saucer. That weird grey light peculiar to eight o’clock on the nights between Spring and Summer, warmed by a single candle and the faint green shadow of the lamp in the far corner of the living room.
I have been tired for a week now. I danced my silly socks off at a Take That concert (of all things) and I have been tired ever since. A deep, bone tiredness I cannot shake off. The kind of tiredness that reminds me of early pregnancy. That all consuming hormonal tiredness that has bed calling your name at the oddest hours of the day. And wide-awake when the rest of the world is ready to sleep. Giving birth to a new sense of self. Basking in the bewilderment of affirmation that was such a long time coming.
Tonight though. A teeny one person supper of brown shrimp and warm toast, and this perfect key lime, ginger charlotte. And pink lemonade! Lashings and lashings of it. My own boys all away. Ste at work overnight, Stevie with his mum, and my own boy, my beautiful boy, safe at his Dads. (How precious and so very vulnerable these mysterious creatures, teenage boys, are).
Does anxiety come with age? Is it one of the dubious blessings of middle-youth? Just one more thing sent to try us? Do we become Mothers to all of the Mothers? Our hearts breaking for them?All of the boys lost? And housework! When did that become impossible, so irrelevant in the whole scheme of things? For hasn’t the house turned gangster? Spots of damp on the cream rococo wallpaper and what is I think, a mutual falling out of love between us. For it isn’t mine and suddenly my whole being is yearning for certainty. A place to thrive in. Not just survive. A place of our own to remember who I was. A place where writing stops feeling like something I have to hold hostage in order to create.
Tonight though. A promise that I won’t watch our favourite program until we can watch it together. Rosehip oil massaged into my clean face, eyebrows plucked into permanent surprise, magnesium fizzing in a glass. Ten minutes spent getting the bedroom ready: the Himalyan salt lamp softly glowing, fresh pillowcases spritzed with lavender, the window propped slightly open and a stack of new magazines waiting for me. (I’m wild, me!)
Teeny blessings. So many teeny blessings. And there, but for the grace of God, all of us Mum’s whose children, big and small, will sleep their own beds, long eyelashes fluttering on their gorgeous cheeks, safe for another night.
There but for the grace of God…