Housekeeper’s Diary

By Alison February 2, 2023 No Comments 5 Min Read

I had quite forgotten how long winter lasts. How interminable the nights can seem and how January rolls into February and there still seems so very much of it left. Before Christmas there is much to do and then there is nothing and the nights stretch ahead, getting shorter as Spring dips her toe into still frozen waters, but still needing the curtains closed upon them once dusk settles if I am not to be watched by passer’s by looking in as if I have taken to the stage ready to provide the evening’s entertainment.

Beyond the window, I am as focused as I ever remember being. My days ruled by the little stack of planners in which I quantify and order everything from calories to pennies, macros and lingering, but finally dwindling bills. For I have always found deep sanctuary in numbers. Jiggling them about on YNAB to make sense of what needs to be paid, and squinting at food packaging as I run constant sums in my head to make sure I am consuming the frankly preposterously high amount of calories and protein I need to keep losing weight, turning all that I thought I knew from a lifetime of diet lies on its head.

And still the boxes keep piling up as I carry on binning my life to make my big, fat, wild. idea a possibility. For I am horribly disorganised in this regard. I load them in to the car and drive them to the tip only to find it closed and have to drive home and take them out again so that I can squeeze Finn and his giant friends into my little she-shed to taxi them around the district. And so in the porch they stay, blocking the chi of the house as surely as the furniture piled up outside the conservatory that the gardener who once promised to do so, still cannot be persuaded to take away.

It is odd how disconnected I have become from the house lately, though I suppose a bout of flu will do that. Too many afternoons squandered on the sofa, eating my way through crates of my beloved easy peelers and re-watching Doc Marten (bliss!) while I gather up my strength meaning that I have not yet taken to scrubbing the house back to happy. But perhaps my love affair with this lovely, but oh so cold house is over anyway? The boiler now so ancient it barely heats the rooms and costs a fortune in the process. Perhaps my head has given up and moved on? The way those that leave relationships abandon them long before they stuff their hearts into carrier bags and leg it for pastures new. Perhaps not even a top to bottoming will repair the damage now but I will not know until I try and try I must for there is another eighteen months to be lived here, all the ghosts of what was, to be tolerated in the meantime as I navigate new relationships regardless.

But hells bells dating at fifty is intensely complex. This morning I made yet another lovely man cry. A heartbreakingly sad phone call before I had barely opened my eyes. I seem to be causing so very much pain, and the taste of tears stayed with me as I wandered through the morning, pulling out the junk in the battered old sideboard and marvelling at how many board games we own and have barely played throughout the years. Some of me longing for nothing more emotionally challenging than a cosy night enjoying a fierce game of monopoly in the company of those that know me. And the rest of me wondering if I’m ready for any of this at all. If it is not simply a sometimes beautiful distraction for an ache I cannot soothe. Oh how feelings ebb and flow! How strength and determination are so often undone by the fear of being vulnerable again – an emotion I am apparently determined to avoid, while hurting people who don’t deserve it in the process.

When my Mum died we found drawers full of Poundland spectacles and plug in air fresheners. Me, I hoard vitamins I have decided disagree with me and stacks of new notepads I cannot resist buying in Homesense. I keep the terracotta pots I buy filled with cheese fondues and stuff my bedroom drawers with the prettiest of floral soaps for the sheer bliss of opening them and being wafted away on a cloud of soapy fragrance. And yes there are cupboards full of board games, an entire shelf in the fridge laden with the CBD drinks I adore, and a silly amount of tinned tomatoes because one never knows when the simple comfort of a tin warmed and black peppered on toast might be just the job. All of it mine, sitting among memories and now a trail of bashed up emotion for it seems the middle-aged heart is simply more fragile than those I have known before. And mine perhaps, still in a kind of static grief and too confused to help.

Tonight then. A book that is making me laugh. A glass full of aromatic Skinny Tonic, a nibbly bowl full of rosemary almonds, and the silence of the house again. My hair coated in a thickening conditioner (for it is surely thinner than it was), and my planners by my side so I can round the day off with numbers and thoughts. All this while my phone buzzes constantly, the cat runs about with a box on his head, and I occasionally pause my reading to remind myself that the TV is truly terrible lately – all this water and not a drop to drink – though I keep on flicking through it regardless.

Then this weekend. A quiet, gentle one. Perhaps a visit to see a friend’s new flat in a village down the road I adore, catching up on his news and enjoying his easy, still company. A coffee with another friend in a gorgeous art gallery: a room full of creamy sofas, bleached wood and the best cakes for miles around. Then Sunday shopping for something to wear for a night out next week, for while clothes shopping has long been my idea of hell, those I have are now hanging like sacks with a littler me inside and I cannot put it off. And finally time carved out to reflect on what has come to pass this week. On the part I have played in making somebody feel so very sad.

Heaven’s life is complicated. I do believe it (or maybe I??) should come with a warning.

Spring cannot come soon enough.

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