A long, hot night finally broken by rain that leaves the damp air smelling like diluted orange juice. We stumble out of bed at the same time and convene bewildered, rubbing away sleep, on the landing. Even the house feels restless. Spiders who have taken shelter from the heat scurrying up towards the skylight and reminding me that it is time to get my feather duster out.
I hobble down the stairs, bothered by a painful ankle I have developed on the route between toilet and bathroom, and begin my morning round hunched like Mrs. Overall. Blinds up, curtains open, kettle on. Lamps lit. Every door flung open on to the morning. Birds fed. Pea puree taken out of the freezer for defrosting in time for this evening. Washing machine filled. Laundry hung. Tea wet.
Tick. Tick. Tickety-boo.
And then we sit, the three of us in the conservatory. Them silent. Their heads bent over phones and me wittering about the markings around the necks of Mr and Mrs Dove keeping watch from the fence. About the mortar we will need to scrub away from the flags in the garden. About whether it will be possible to drag the hose across the garden to give the conservatory roof a thorough scrubbing. About how harassed I feel by the family of Daddy-Long-Legs that seem to live behind the cream sideboard and only pop out to buzz loudly in my ear whenever I have the audacity to close my eyes.
I witter and they hum and ha and pray that I will shut up so they can check share portfolios, football news and WWE gossip in relative, companionable silence. Some days I long for a resident woman, or my Mum at the end of the phone to witter with, if only to set this perpetual trivia of the mind free all over again so I can reclaim my space on the yoga mat in relative peace. So I can spill my head and get on with my day.
Instead there are morning pages. Stretches with a set of pink bands. The spritzing up of my self in time for necessary appointments this afternoon. A cup of zesty tea to revive the spirits and the pummelling of the cushions on the salad sofa, for they will not bend to my will and behave themselves by standing to spritely attention and instead need the kind of regular battering I almost consider daily exercise.
Today then. Tiny chicken fillets to be sprinkled with salt and pepper, grilled and pulled for lunch-time sandwiches. Tomatoes slow roasted in garlic to dress the sourdough bread. A sink full of morning dishes. Splinters of glass to be avoided after a bottle of rosy cider threw itself out of the fridge, though I have swept and wiped and held out a magnifying glass in search of those that got away.
Today. An ordinary Thursday in what will be the pattern for the next term. All of us here each Thursday, and every Friday. Ste reading. Finn wandering. Me somewhat claustrophobic and yearning for empty rooms. I love them both so much but I have not known a house of daytime people in many years, and even the relentless peopledom that was isolation has not cured me of my need for silence. Though of course it is always me making the noise. Offsetting my anxiety with noisy singing. Constant wittering. The occasional tango with a tea-towel that makes me laugh out loud. Apparently unable to hold my relentless cheer in!
Today. I stand in front of the bathroom mirror and stare bewildered in the mirror. This year has taken its toll and tonight I will dye away the fluster of grey hair gathered like a halo around my face and climb into bed early, skin plastered in retinol in an effort to fix my face. To read accompanied by the white noise of my beloved fan. I will keep the windows open so I can hear the noisy flight of the geese away from the bird sanctuary to exotic pastures new while I nibble at a supper of toast and chamomile.
I think it is ok isn’t it: to seek time out in this way? My life is challenging right now and in the kindest way possible, I need to keep on filling my own well. For there is very little support for those of us there for those struggling with themselves. So little reward for that which asks so much of us in the face of their pain. And so, when the day is done, I have to do it for myself. Topping up my reservoir of strength and nurturing my coping skills with gentle self-care.
I am quiet at night-time. The wittering stops and the reflection begins. I am quiet at night-time. No longer and never more myself.