And then there was one. After three lovely weeks of a festive Finley, and then a weekend spent clearing my mind with my Dad, the house was suddenly empty. Finley back into the fray of university and me banging about the house on a macro pleasing diet of pate on wholemeal toast, tangerines, hibiscus tea and cocoa nibs.
I think I was today years old when I realised that life ebbs and flows. That sometimes I will exist now, in the chaos of claustrophobic, lovely family and at other times in the deep analytical silence of my own head: days stretching ahead of me to fill as I please. Though it should be noted, that these days that seem to spill endlessly into the future are not as long as I imagine and setting myself more than a few tasks to achieve within them is likely to be futile because life has a way of chucking in a few daily must-do’s of its own I am unlikely to scrawl into the to-do lists of this year’s planner.
Today then: the gas man coming to do an annual inspection and meter readings crying out to be sent to an energy company that doesn’t seem to know whether it is coming or going, and thus sends me bills that vary so wildly from announcing me to be deep in debt or ludicrously in credit, that they have lost all meaning and instead I just keep popping money into the account and hoping they will come to their senses soon. There has been the weekly stripping of the beds, and a hour long deep clean waft around with a new hoover that simply pushes the dust around. The management of too much rubbish as I wait for the bins to be emptied tomorrow and a happy while spent organising the fridge: a job I rather adore, (though I cannot explain why), as I stand with my pencil tapping my chin working out what will be enjoyed at mealtimes this week (pate?) and making a short list of all that needs to be ordered in, for after the retail madness of December, avoiding the shops in order to balance my bank account is high on my January priority list.
And now I am here, organising my thoughts in this here diary post, while the cat runs hither and thither with a champagne cork in his mouth, hiding it from himself and pouncing with a squeak when he pretends he has just noticed it. I am as always cold. I think it lives in my bones now, this frost. For the house tells me she is sufficiently warm and I am wearing layer upon layer of cosy clothes and still there is a part of me that cannot settle because this draughty, high-ceilinged living room seems to blow a cold chill constantly down my neck, so I am always jumping up and attending to this or that, simply to stop my nose from turning blue, putting off the trip I need to take into the village to go the post office and pharmacy, because the world beyond the front door strikes me as even colder, and instead doing anything but: filing paperwork and topping up homemade cleaning potions, being downright fussy about every spec of dust and running on the treadmill, as the house dances with me to the music I blast from room to room.
A person could start to worry that she is turning weird. A person could in fact convince herself that there is a kind of solitary madness seeping into her bloodstream. That the cold in her bones is a sort of stiffening of her soul! So thank heaven’s that I know this not to be true. That I understand this cold and furious energy to be a railing against a malaise I am all too aware could set in, for the black dog has visited me frequently enough over the years, to be incapable of disguising her presence without me spotting her and stopping her in her tracks. So I am filling the days with tiny joys: an amusing book, a stack of January magazines hanging about in the table rack I put together one December evening, turning the house upside down in search of tools and a screw to replace the one that seemed to be missing, and patting myself on the back for being a WOMAN WHO CAN, jugs full of chirpy daffodils, the declaring of a Gladys Taber season (“I suppose I am a sparrow, a stay-at-home-bird“), the endless arranging of new configurations of candles and books on the glorious new (old) square coffee table I bought for buttons on Facebook market place and long baths in my newly preened bathroom, before falling into bed, fair dripping in the luxurious bliss of Nuxe Dry oil and plummeting into the kind of sleep that has long eluded me but is suddenly my best friend.
No. This is not malaise. It is instead clarity and purpose. It is waking up each morning with my plan for the day already well-formed, a box covered in floral linen at my side, holding my planners, my morning book, my Clari-Tea- candle. It is an exam I must take this week, and a supplement that has solved out my mild stomach irritation and that I now want to insist everyone I know takes too. It is the joy of learning again, my Integrative Nutrition course something that is truly satisfying something I didn’t know I needed. A commitment do de-cluttering which is slowly but surely reaping rewards and whispering to the universe my readiness for a new phase in this life of mine, now that there is space to breathe again.
For I do believe I am in waiting. For what I do not yet know. But I am cultivating patience, coddiwompling my way forward, and trusting myself to do the next right thing, over and over again until the world feels like its standing the right way up again. I am not there yet. But I have stopped chasing my dreams and instead I am letting them find me and living my life as it should be in the meantime, keeping my fingers crossed, as always, that what is for me won’t pass me.
In the meantime though, the drain in the garden is blocked again and if I don’t want the washing machine to flood the patio I need to pop some heavy-duty gloves on and go and do battle with the sludge of Winter leaves blocking it (see what I mean about life chucking in a few must-do’s of its own?). Perhaps I will carry on out the back gate and head to the pharmacy to fetch my prescription too, for a person must not keel over dead from lack of medication for wont of a coat now must she?
I am after all committed to doing the next right thing.