The last week has been stressful and difficult. Today I’m tired, and feeling emotionally spent and not my usual self. There have been a lot of ‘signs’ from the universe that something needs to change.
Last Sunday I was just tired.
I listened to the radio as I drove to see my Mum, feeling guilty that I hadn’t seen her for a fortnight or so.
Life speeds up, there’s always something to be done, and I need to feed my creative soul with a chance to relax as well as space to create. Weekends are precious time to ‘do it all’ but 48 hours is not enough, can never be enough, for this creative soul.
Tennessee Williams was talking about writing and going to the bar after a day’s work for a restorative drink – a Brandy Alexander. In New Orleans. His voice was hypnotic and calming. I could feel the warmth in his voice and I knew then what I needed to do.
Be a writer.
Then Monday came, and I made my way to work. I saw a bird, no, not the bird, I saw the splat of the bird shit as it hit the pavement right next to me. And then a guy wearing a T-shirt that said YOLO (You Only Live Once). I wondered when I was going to really start living my creative dreams, and what was I doing, and what I should be doing, and when I was doing all that I wanted, what would that look like?
I dawdled about and did my work and enjoyed the sunshine on my lunch break and carried on as usual. And then I got a call to say my Mum was being taken to hospital.
That day I’d brought two peaches to work, and had eaten one of them mid-morning. As I ate it (juicy, succulent, the perfect peach), I thought I should probably have eaten both of them at the same time. It’s difficult to judge peaches properly; one day hard and unripe, the next over-ripe or spoiled. These peaches were on the cusp, ripe but about to turn. I should have eaten them both when the going was good. It’s strange that this kind of thought expands in meaning, lingering, long after the fact.
The thought about the peaches came back to me, as, overwhelmed by tears, I left work, legs buckling, heart fluttering. I called back to my colleague, ‘just throw it in the bin, throw it away’. The peach left there, rotting.
And it was such a glorious day. Until I got the call. The sun was still shining, it was hot and balmy out. The day was probably one of the nicest of the year so far, save for that call.
I bought a lighter and lit a cigarette and waited for news on a bench across from the entrance to A&E, trying to think clearly, calmly, pigeons pecking and cooing right up close to me. I remembered the splat of bird shit on the pavement that morning. It seemed so long ago already. One pigeon came so close I felt like it was trying to tell me something. Change your life. Now.
The trees overhung with sweet smells of almost-summer. There were flowers and birds and peace. But not happiness.
Dappled patterns of leaves swished and swayed as I smoked my cigarette, too scared to go in. I felt numb and anaesthetised (because I’m not actually a smoker, unless you count the pack of ten I bought before Christmas and still have some left, as being a smoker.)
I thought about the day before, me tired, a bit off, when Mum had showed me where her box of ‘precious things’ were, and we talked about all the things we had to sell and get rid of. The things she wants to get of. So that I don’t have to do it. Later. After.
Because this is the second time I’ve had the call about her going to hospital. The first time she’d had a brain hemorrhage. She was lucky. So lucky that time. In hospital a month, but no lasting damage. It all came back. I’d made a risotto for lunch that day, just before I’d got the call. I’d measured out the rice and thrown it all in the pan out of the way and it was still there bloated and inedible two days later.
Sunlight faded to dusk to night and still there was no solid news of what was wrong this time.
She was admitted to hospital. I went home for a fitful, exhausted sleep and endless dreams of confusion and omens.
On Tuesday I could barely open my eyes but I called the hospital at 6am. She’d had a scan. They were waiting for the results.
I had to get everything together. Clothes and toiletries. Organise myself. I struggled to make progress and concentrate on any one task. I wouldn’t be going to work.
I dropped the things off that she needed, and waited for visiting time. I wandered to the shops nearby and the distractions of other people.
I went into a charity shop and bought this ABBA LP for £1.99, feeling lost and disorientated, identifying with how Agnetha looks on the album cover.
It seemed like a good idea. And then I got my Mum some beautiful, expensive soap. Nice soap is such a sensory, everyday pleasure. Lilac Blossom. I inhaled it through the paper packaging and remembered the Lavender Arran Aromatics soap that had all the nurses on the ward swooning the last time she was in hospital.
When I got back to the hospital, it was ok. The scan was clear. It wasn’t what they thought. There was still pain, but that would be dealt with. Relief, puzzled relief. Tired. We went home. And I finally felt hungry since lunch the previous day.
And when it got to night time, and I got home. I let the tears out.
Wednesday – headachy, eyes like red slugs, tired, numb. A wake-up call.
I breathed in the air from the Clyde and admired the sun’s dance over the water, the clear sky, and The Waverley. I took my Mum on it last year and she loved it. Memories and reminders everywhere.
The rest of the week: a blur. Pockets of thoughts that trailed away. Mindless mind-chatter.
And now, today? Listening to ABBA. SOS.