Friday night. My plans are cancelled and my eyes tired and dry. So after lying rather dramatically across the sofa with a hot flannel on my face in an effort to revive them, I decided to throw myself a little old time Alison party in compensation. A festival of fairly lights and lemon and mint soda, a woozy, odd, ephemeral Australian drama, floaty pyjamas and a swipe of Dr. Lipp’s Nipple Balm across my lips as it is the only thing soothing them after a run in with a tube of toothpaste it seems I am allergic to.
The house is clean. Scrubbed. Like a child with a face washed by his Mum. And I have opened my glorious tin of rich, dark Penhaligon candles again and in a moment of wild, heady indulgence lit all five them to fragrance the ten minutes of breathwork that has become one of my Friday night rituals. I feel… something. Serene? Indulgent? And it has reminded me that I have to create this feeling. That it takes all the same effort it always used to because atmosphere is designed, not magically manifested just because it is desired.
It has been a long, winding, stressful week. Endless work punctured with peppermint tea with friends I love and rambling lovely conversations with my Dad. Finley was here for two nights, his hair too wild, his eyes too shadowed by the exhaustion of the end of term, so I shaved the sides of his head, coated his curls in rich conditioner and made him roast chicken, then laundered what felt like a lifetime of his clothes before sending him packing with a kiss pressed on his lovely forehead, so I could pop my big coat on and head off to the top of the hill that has lately become my walking refuge. Testing my fitness after a Winter on the treadmill and seeking the mossy, damp sanctuary of a wood populated by the Gruffalo and his foresty friends. To think.
I have been thinking past myself lately. Over-thinking probably. (I do that). I might in fact be one of those women who think too much damnit, but one of the things I have come to realise in the midst of all this thinking is that after the fallowing, there is the whittling. The chiselling away of all that I recognise as surplus now. The carving of a different version of who I am, shaped for whatever the future hints at coming to pass.
While fallowing is by its very nature, without plan or design, whittling is a more deliberate, nuanced act. It requires not the silence of letting what will be fall like feathers from the heavens, but careful decision and quiet consideration for what is now necessary to progress. For it would be easy to stay as I am now. Some of the weight gone. Muddling through my days. Just about managing financially. Occasionally dating while utterly refusing to make any commitment at all. It would be easy, but it would not be enough. So though it is tempting to remain in quiet status quo, I am a-whittling regardless. Not just finishing both of my nutrition courses but now deciding what I want to do with my new found knowledge. Choosing to move into the next phase of my weight-loss journey after a period of maintenance, a little more educated and even more determined. Doing as Finn has instructed me too, and looking for the green flags, not constantly seeking evidence of the red ones.
And yes, making Friday nights feel truly special again. Not just the token gestures I have made over the past year, stocking up the box sets I couldn’t bring myself to watch alone, but finally allowing myself to let the past go, to watch Ted Lasso. The Servant and maybe even Stranger Things, with a dotty plate of Blackstick’s Blue, stuffed artichokes and my beloved pickled onions , a wobbly glass of rhubarb gin and tonic and hope in my silly heart.
And all shall be well, and all shall be well and all shall be well and Friday nights will feel like Friday nights again and I will keep smiling in the selfies I am still forcing myself to take and saying yes to those who show me that we all have our red flags, but when the green ones are flown consistently it is truly ok to believe in them.
Tonight then, the candles burning low, the cat apparently traumatised by something he can see in the conservatory, my eyes gritty and that Australian drama resplendent with Byron Bay-esque bohemian style and very little substance.
I feel something. Serene. Indulgent…happy?