Evenings just slip away

It is 8:05 pm.

I’m tired.

My son is in bed though maybe not asleep.

I stand, hands in dishwater, thinking about the book we were just reading, reviewing my to-do list.

I have to clean the table. Pull down the blinds. Close the windows.

I remind myself to prepare the oatmeal for the morning.

What will I give my son for lunch? Maybe a turkey sandwich. And there’s that bread he never ate from today.

What do I have to do tomorrow?

Write. And England plays at noon.

Oh, and I need gifts for the teachers.

Right now, though, I have to put the clean dishes away.

Before I can get to that, a line pops into my head. It’s good. Then there’s another.

I can’t lose them.

Wiping my dripping hands on my pants, droplets trailing along the floor after me, I move to the little table in the kitchen, sit down and start writing.

It is 8:29.

I write. And write. It flows easily at night, and first thing in the morning, too.

The next time I look up, the clock reads 9:52.

It can’t be. The night is almost done but I am not. I should be almost in bed. But I still have that lunch to make and the oatmeal. And the dishes are only half washed.

The thing is, this writing is fun. I’m enjoying myself. I like what I’ve written. It may even be good. So I write some more. I can’t help smiling a big, happy smile, even though I know I’ll be tired again tomorrow.

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On Midsummer’s Night

Darkness has fallen but
The revelry continues:
Voices call,
Dogs, walked late, 
bark and snarl,
Delirious, cyclists ring their bells 
Up and down the street
Rousing the sleepers,
Children yell out,
Racing each other
Into the night,
Footsteps are heavy
With the stumbling,
Black cat caps snap –
Explosions over the trees –
And the cars,
Ceaseless.
Maybe we are all still
Pagan celebrants
On this night,
The night of the Turning.

Summer Solstice

A perfect morning starts slowly
And breathes deeply
Pale light splashes across the night sky
Dampening the stars
Casting city and countryside in a soft silver,
The precursor to dawn’s glowing sunrise.
The birds are already awake,
Their song carried on the cool air
Through open windows,
Bringing the outside in,
Turning the house out.

I roll over, smile at the dawn,
Then sleep again.
Hours later,
Lazy and pyjama-clad,
I make my way through the house,
Stopping to pat my son on the head
On my way down for coffee;
Breakfast is late
But we have all the time in the world.

The day unfurls slowly,
Outside,
Stretching out long and languid;
Comfortable.
The sun arcs high across a clear-blue sky,
Following us.
It finds us in the grass
At the end of the day.
It is golden then
And so are we.

The evening lingers
Long after the sun has set.
The light has softened and paled again –
Lavender –
The air is still cool,
The birds still sing.

There was no Midsummer’s Night magic,
There were no fairies,
No grand celebrations
In our today.
And yet.
And yet,
The day was longer,
The air was sweeter
And there was a natural magic in it
Somewhere.
I could feel it.

 

 

 

Wishful Thinking

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I just saw Charlie’s Mom!

She was saying hi to all these other people in the crowd. Abby and a teacher and someone who I think is a dad.

I recognized her; she’s been in our class lots. And she looks like Charlie.

I started to say “hi,” but I sort of stopped smiling because at first she looked past me. Like she didn’t know who I was.

I thought she’d recognize me but I don’t know.

She went with the grade 3’s to their swimming but I’m in grade 4 so I didn’t go so maybe she doesn’t remember me.

She said “hi” finally, at the last second, as she passed me. Her face kind of changed as she said it. Maybe she figured out who I was then, maybe she remembered just as she said “hi.”

I wonder if she’s going to let Charlie come this weekend.

I want him to, ’cause it’s going to be a boring trip otherwise. All that driving, all that long way, with just my baby brother bawling and my parents talking about whatever parents talk about.

It would be fun to have Charlie come with us. He’s funny. He makes the class laugh. Sometimes we get in trouble for laughing.

He’s nice, too, which is good.

Maybe we could play Lego or Pokemon or something in the back seat. I could bring some Lego and he could bring some and we could trade.

Or cars. He has lots of Hot Wheels I think. Because he left some in his desk when he went away for weeks and weeks with his family and some of the class snuck in and took them and played with them but then the teacher made us put them back. I don’t think Charlie knows.  Maybe I’ll tell him on the trip.

It’s going to be along trip. My parents said it’s a 4 hour drive, all the way to some mountains in the States. Across the border and everything! I think the name of the mountains starts with an “X”. Or there’s an “X” in the name somewhere. I don’t remember. But it’s not the kind of place you have to fly to. It’s not 4 hours on a plane, just 4 hours in a car.

I hope Charlie can come with us.

There he is! I’m going to go ask him.

“Charlie! What did your Mom say? Can you come with us this weekend?”

Collecting my Thoughts

7:50 am and I am back.

Home.

Back to my kitchen, to my laptop, to writing.

I am full to overflowing with thoughts and feelings. I have an app brimming with notes, impressions and ideas that came to me while I was out there, roaming and living and discovering in South Africa.

It was hard to write without a laptop, harder still to get the brain space with a child who needed to do homework and, more importantly, needed to share his experiences with me.

And I wanted to see all that, share all that with him.

But now it’s Monday, he’s gone to school, and I’m happy to be able to return to proper writing.

The thing is, I have too much to say. Five weeks worth of ideas all jumbled together and clambering to get out. Beginnings of stories, references to people and places.

I feel a bit shell-shocked. A bit out of place and time.

You know that feeling you get when you return from a holiday and it immediately feels like a dream? Like you never left?

I hate the way a holiday fades – quickly as though, after only a few days, it seems more a vivid dream than a sizeable chunk of the recent past. 

How can such a huge experience feel like it never happened? I have all these memories, I crossed continents, drifted through airports, even did a boat tour in Amsterdam, and yet it feels like I never left.

And yet. Little things jar me and seem out of place. As though there has been a time lag somewhere or a wrinkle in time.

The local radio station and its news – news that actually seems novel again.

The feeling of a watch on my wrist after not wearing one for weeks.

The relative cold outside.

Driving on the – what side do we drive on here again? Well, driving. I keep trying to put the car in drive with my left hand and there’s only window there.

The way the grocery store or pharmacy seems similar, but different at the same time.

The accents, or lack thereof.

The scratches on my wedding band from scrambling through rock pools and up Table Mountain.

And the flashbacks. Glimpses in my mind’s eye of the shower, the bed, the kitchen, the garden in our little corner of a lodge which is now far, far away.

If I allow myself to sink into these flashbacks, to think about them, then it starts to feel real again, as though maybe I was actually there after all.

And then there’s the people who keep coming to mind.

People I grew fond of and whom I miss. Really miss.

Of course it was hard to leave the wild beauty of the Western Cape, with the mountains everywhere, the crashing, turquoise waves, the pace of life into which I slipped easily comfortably.

And on most holidays, I feel as though I could stay forever. We tend to avoid big resorts and instead choose places that allow us to live, however briefly, like locals. Maine, Mexico, and now South Africa.

Travelling like this does have a way of pulling me in and settling me. Of lulling me into a false sense of what it would be like to actually live there.

But the difference this time, other than the sheer length of the holiday, was the people. I really connected with people. I made friends. I met people that I would want to be friends with no matter where they were or how I met them. They were not contacts or acquaintances of convenience – those people who we may hang out with but who we wouldn’t, under normal circumstances, choose as friends – they actually meant something…no, they mean something.

I watched my son have the same experience.

It’s wonderful to watch, and to experience, friendships develop with people who live very different lives, who come from a very different place, and yet who seem so in tune, so in step, so familiar.

So, here I am, back in my kitchen, indulging my dream-like memories and bringing you along for the ride (forgive me for rhapsodizing just a bit).

The trick now will be to bring all I learned and everything I saw into my daily life – into real life. To bridge the gap between there and here.