18 May 2020
Don't forget to smile
I started washing my hand knit winter jumpers, one a day in the morning, adding yet another job into already busy days. It is a job that I always mean to do at this time of year as the temperatures start to rise but usually put off as in my head it is too big and time consuming, the reality of course is that it is anything but. As I gently rubbed the stains that had accumulated I realised that some of these knits have never been washed. I have a few more to do and then that job will be done for another year, I have made a promise to myself not to leave it so long before doing it again.
Despite the many changes that have had to occur in my life recently one thing that has been a constant is my mornings. Each morning as I rise I complete each of the things I want and need to do, mentally ticking them off on the list in my head. No two mornings are the same, in part as the housework I do each morning varies but also because I don't always do each thing in the same order each day. I often find myself distracted, pulled away, the time drifting like a leaf blowing about in the wind, it is taking longer and longer to get through that mental list, a fact that makes smile. I have all the time in the world.
We have fallen into new habits, new rhythms that are giving us all some comfort of certainty which I think we all need right now, bringing things into focus after a time of everything feeling rather blurred and off kilter. I no longer fear the future, but I am not sure I ever really did, just wasn't sure what it had in store for us. I still don't. But that not knowing no longer worries me. Perhaps for the first time in a long time I am living in the present, the here and now, thinking ahead a little bit for those times like birthdays, but for the most part my focus is the day ahead and what shape it is going to take.
The pared back life that our lives had become is slowly filling up. I found myself feeling rather churlish that I did not want to know about all the many free things that were being offered online. They were not things that we would normally do, the offers made to include them in our lives were met with blank looks, I didn't need the words to know that that meant, why on earth would we want to do that? I have, however, been deeply touched by the offers from Alice's piano and gymnastics teachers' for free sessions. I love that there was a pause before offering them, time that perhaps everyone needed to find their feet and feel settled. It was a thoughtful pause that has meant that Alice has welcomed these opportunities into her week.
Our cars sit on the drive gathering dust, literally it is so dry here at the moment. A week of activities all over the county and beyond would see me driving a couple of hundred miles a week, now I pootle 25 or so miles up the road to the nearest town and back, once a week. I find myself driving slowly, I rarely see another car for most of the journey, enjoying the countryside emerging slowly into Spring, the wonderful green haze growing stronger each week. I have spotted many birds I haven't seen in years, I love that they are claiming back the land.
I join the patient queue of shoppers waiting to be allowed into the supermarket, I have already visited several small independent shops by this time. I have been known to sit in my car for a bit pausing to draw breath, knit a few stitches and perhaps wait for the queue to decrease a little. I have given up trying to work out why it is so long one week and non existent the next. I play the games, as I navigate the aisles, of who is going to be round the corner and trying to second guess what people are going to do. A Russian roulette version of dodgems. One week I kept meeting a lady with a basket, empty save for a shopping bag, nothing got added to that basket, she wasn't in the very long queue to get in with me, how long has she been wandering around. When we make eye contact she does not see me. She looks lost, I wonder, when I get home, what sadness she feeling, or whether she is fearful. She reminds me how important it is to smile at this time, a small gesture that means so much. I make a note to myself to smile at everyone I meet when I am out next time, especially shopping. We are all in this together, we should be supporting each other.
I sat and wrote these words many weeks ago, other posts were written and published, life got even fuller and they sat there continuing to be ignored. I want to say that little has changed but that is not true. My husband went back to work today. He has been at home with us for nearly eight weeks. We are, once more, all feeling a little unsettled. I know that won't always be so, but sometimes it is hard to see that when we are living through that time isn't it?
The occasional glance out of the window at the space on the drive reminds me that he is not in the workshop fettling something or out riding his bike. The gap is a visual reminder of what we are all feeling right now. I need to keep things slow and steady, as they have been for weeks. I usually feel the need to keep busy, often ridiculously so, but that puts off thinking about the things that need my headspace to reach peace and acceptance.
So today I am taking comfort in the familiar, those constants in my mornings that wrap around me like a blanket holding me steady, our Monday focus time and our daily walks.
I remind myself that we will be ok, we are safe at home, and to remember to smile - even to myself.