Today, in a throwback to the way things were, Finley has got fatface and I am confined to barracks creating the kind of scrambly egg and mashed potato he can swallow and trying not to laugh as he stalks up and down the kitchen quietly livid about not being able to get up to his usual daily shenanigans, until he laughs at himself and hugs me and bashes his fatface on mine and growls all over again.
Oh we do have fun!
And so I am here pottering. Not puttering for that is done with purpose whereas this is more of a sort of restless wandering, putting the house back together after a weekend full of family. My Dad here for a precious few days, for now he and my sister have moved almost five hours away, the time I have him to myself seems to be slipping away so I try to make the most of every minute. He cooks and we drink Malbec in the kitchen, reminiscing and trying to make sense of all that has come to pass as I hold back tears that still fall too easily and try not to let him see how hard it is to know he is now so very far away as I follow him around while he fixes this and puzzles out that, putting my house back together in a way I cannot quite manage alone.
And oh what a relief it is to have a man with male can-do in abundance on the premises, though my inner feminist cringed as I wrote that sentence for while I take pride in considering myself utterly independent, so very much around the house has become gently shambolic in the year since Ste left, as I try to balance work with managing all that needs doing beyond the most basic of DIY, ignoring that which seems too complicated, messy or awkward, or all that seems simply mysterious, heavy, too expensive or beyond me, in favour of keeping Finn and I fed, with a roof over our heads that feels at least cosy, if not perfect – for now there are simply too many memories here, and it is so hard to be somewhere once the love for the very bricks and mortar has gone.
So yes… pottering. Irrationally thrilled to be able to close the living room door now the handle works and step out in to the back garden again now the chaos left behind by the mad gardener has been ferried to the tip. Pottering. Spritzing the rampant weeds around the front path with something organic and hopefully mean enough to do away with them. Lugging the wheelie bin out astonished by the weight of it as it rather seems I have filled it with what must be bricks! Saying hello to the toads hopping around the garden as it has been so very wet and wondering whether kissing them might be in order in case they are in fact a gang of charming Princes in slimy disguise? And, oh joy, squeezing down the side of the conservatory to pull at the branches now running so wild they are infiltrating the windows.
Pottering. Changing fuses in fairy lights and lamps because the left side of the house had a tantrum and blew them all out like so many birthday candles. Stripping beds and decanting fabric conditioner. Worrying about the cost of the repairs necessary for the She-shed to go again. Working my way through the boxes Finley brought back from university so we can fathom what he will need to move into his house-share in September, prepping him for a bar job he will adore and having a stern word with the cat for he still believes that dipping his paw into every glass of water I pour and then flicking it at me is a lark.
Pottering through the stuff of life because that is all it is really, isn’t it – just stuff that must be sorted and filed and polished and kept under control for isn’t it true that left to its own devices, stuff (and cats) run amok and all of us are spending far too much time organising it instead of chasing dreams and wandering hills and having the kind of deep, intimate late-night conversation that sets your soul on fire and has meaning tucked in-between every line? (I miss it).
Sometimes I dream of giving it all away. Being a woman in possession of nothing more than her Kindle, her journal and her son. Imagine that, free as big bird! Doing what the lady in Ladder of the Years did. This is I think a form of claustrophobia. An overwhelming neurodivergent reaction to feeling peopled out, and simultaneously trapped inside my own four walls. Though I am not trapped at all. Tomorrow there will be a heavenly lunch in an art gallery with a friend and the day after that an afternoon in the cinema. I am not trapped, I am in fact ruined by the beautiful attention of friends who love me.
Today then. A terracotta pot full of melted cheese and a cucumber chopped into fingers. Another episode of the wildly mad Flowers, for though it has made both Finn and I cry as its depiction of the hollow nothing of male depression is so accurate and all too familiar – there is something about the higgledy-piggeldy cottage that is the epitome of home to me? Finn comparing the relative qualities of words ending in “ism” – autism (good), communism (bad), and apparently high on ibruprofen! Beds to change and a clean fridge to replenish. And then a book to take to bed. An old Liverpool romance of the kind I used to devour when my head wasn’t up to anything more challenging. The bookish equivalent of a cosy cup of hot chocolate just right for a day apparently convinced she isn’t Summer, she is in fact Autumn.
And now. I am Tired. Yes. This is tiredness. Sometimes I struggle to label what I feel. Tired often feels like hunger and hunger often feels like tired. So an early night – an almond scented shower and a cup of chamomile.
My book and my dreams.