Island Blog – One Day/Two Days and Rest

A sudden break, like sun coming through the clouds, a chance, a lift. One of my boys arrives, says, Go, Mama, I’ll look after dad for 2 nights.

Initially, I panic. I have not left home base since March 16th. Is the village still there? Do I have a mask? How does this thing work? For decades I have known my way around the island, its little temperamental twists and turns, its moods, its people. I know when to change gear for a steep rise and how to round the bracken that disappears the single track road when it falls away again. I know what to say to someone and when to not say anything at all. My car is as full of fuel as it was 5 months ago. Daily I apologise to Maz the Mini for my appalling neglect, patting her snouty bonnet now adorned with bird leavings. I watch them land, peck at the wing mirrors, pausing for birdish thought, eyes alert and scanning for the hawk. I know how they feel because that is how I feel now as I pack a few things, make a few calls in search of a room, my stomach doing flips, my eyes darting.

Needless to say things are a whole lot easier than I imagine. I am welcomed, Maz flies me down the road, and the village is still there and waving smiles and tipply fingers. But the coaching inn is busy, the car park full of bullish beasts decanting children and parents in shorts, chattering into the sunlit warmth. What shall we eat? Where can we sit at 2 metres apart? How do we eat with this mask on? All very weird. I order a glass of wine, find an empty picnic table and peruse the menu. I know the chef here is an excellent one and there is lobster for a special. I watch the families, finally freed to visit the island, laugh and eat from cardboard boxes, sans masks. The sky turns mackerel, folds and rolls of cloud scales as far as the eye can see. A chance of precipitance. I don’t mind. I have today and tomorrow and a son to thank for it. I’m wound up and restless but anyone who cares for another will know this inner weather. It will take a long while to come, to feel rested, restful. Living on tenterhooks for months and months leaves a legacy. Rest, they say, and I chuckle.

One day, perhaps, when this is over and my insides relocate to their rightful places. One day…..

Island Blog – Extra the Ordinary

Although I live my life according to the rules, most of the time, my heart and soul are pure Paris. As a girl, as a young woman, I could feel the inconvenient wild in me, this fire blaze that burned no matter how politely I crossed my ankles or demurred to the authority of a man. The confusion of living with the two opposing women inside came with a great deal of trouble, most of it unseen by anyone but me. The trouble was my lack of enough experiential wisdom to accept both the Paris and the Quiet Suburbs and to love them both. How can I, how can anyone, hold two contradictories in one head at the same time? Well, practice, and a lot of self-love. En route to this acceptance brought tantrums, a smouldering silence, spots, ridiculous clothes, lost friendships, poor decisions, all of which came with legacy, one only I was forced to live with and through. Those in ‘authority’ over me called me names; deluded, hysterical, rebellious, ornery, bloody difficult #needsprofessionalhelp, possessed, reckless and so on. I was, in short, impossible and would never fit in. Until one day I overheard my French teacher, whom I adored, saying to my mother #headinhands that I had a lot of the Paris in me. I suspect that was the beginning of my quest, one that has led me over the bumps, into walls, off chasmic edges and on and on to many wonderful places and times.

At this age of ripeness and with a completely marvellous and exciting past, I smile at my journey. Even now I can meet good women of my age who, on recognising the rebel in me, say that they were never wild; that they never felt anything like an incendiary bomb. I always question that. Did you ever fall head over heels in love, I ask, when your whole world is thrown up into the air like a beach ball, and do you remember hoping it would never come down again? I usually get them on that one. Okay they didn’t lock matron in the phone cupboard and go back to bed, nor set fire to the school shed (didn’t burn), nor did they get back home at 10pm, check in with parents and then climb out of the window to rejoin the party. But I did, and that wildness is still here, still within, now honoured and loved, appreciated and respected. Paris is part of me.

I have never been to Paris and may never go there. I call her Paris because of what I have read, since my French teacher said what she said, and I have learned about that city of bohemian rebellion and energy. I will have added my own imagination, naturally, and together we have got me all the way up to this morning in a lively and unpredictable way. Living as I now do inside my own structure of discipline is just where I want to be. I have no desire to travel in order to find myself. Myself is right here with me and we are an excellent team. Rebelling against my own rules of engagement would be foolish. Rebelling against other people’s rules of engagement was exhilarating, terrifying and often self destructive, but I could not have avoided one minute of it. It is in my DNA and that is irrefutable.

My message in all this is to encourage you all to remember who you really are, not to fanny about with who someone else decides you are. This would be like trying to fit politely and tidily into an empty Weetabix box. So don’t. And, if any of this touches you in any way, there is work to be done. We can die with our song unsung or we can take a risk, open our mouths and sing it out, at any age or stage of our lives.

We can make an ordinary life extraordinary just by living half in, half out of the box, our own box.