I walk this day around the shore of the sea-loch as the tide ebbs and fast as if there’s a great ocean sucker fish drinking deep. I watch the water startled, yanked backwards by some fierce mother as it is whipped back through the narrows, rock-squashed into a skinny rip tide. It thinks me of my grand girls when Mother decides on plaits and will not allow any escape from said plaiting.
I chat with the trees, the track, the sunlight and even the damn flies having been away for a marvellous four days during which I boarded a ferry, drove over 200 miles and spent 3 nights with my daughter and her family for the first time in too many years; when I left my island home alone, knowing she was empty of life until I returned (first time); when I found my inner brave and launched out into open ocean, as me, as one, as singular, as a widow, as me. Although I knew that it would be more than ok, that I would encounter only k9ndness, the thought of going any further than island rocks scared me. But and but again, no buts, no butts. On the ferry, good lord the slowest and smallest Calmac ferry ever, I sat with poppy dog on my lap and longed to turn back home. Called back to my little Pixty car waiting for me in the bowels of the boat I am safe again. I drive out through the open metal maw and my journey begins. I know it well but haven’t driven it long longtime. My fears? traffic. people. that’s all. (all lower case).
The stay was wonderful. I remembered easily the activity in this home, the go here now, the go there now, thing. We did it all. We checked horses in fields, walked dogs, skirted rivers, watched butterflies, played word games, cooked food, laughed, engaged in private moments, slept and went again. When I left I reflected on it all, the whole colour wheel in captured glances at how it was, that singular catch, the legacy of it. I drove back at my own speed. I am not slow but I’m not fast neither, or is it either? And this this thinks me into intelligent adaptation. Maybe a big jump but stay with me. I have 3 hours for thinks.
In my sudden (for death is always sudden, no matter how expected) widowhood, I find an identity. Initially I was a puddle. For a long time. Now, not. I want to be known as me, unpuddled and rising into a lift of wild water, connectable with the rain that falls from the great Up There. I never knew me. I never was me. I was daughter and then wife. ‘Me’ was for decades irrelevant and unremarkable, as if she didn’t deserve noticing much beyond her physical presence. And, although I have made many adaptations over time I didn’t really know my way through it and, to be honest, I am glad I didn’t. It would have caused fire without available extinguishers. Instead I just kept moving on, learning, adapting and repeat. But now, now that when I go away I come back to just-the-way-I-left-it; when I can go out without saying anything at all; when I can plan new encounters, new commitments, new anything, I feel a quandary of contradictions. I know the old way but that way is dead now whereas I live on inside this loneliness, this freedom, this nothing, this everything, this, this, this.
How to work with the hoo-ha of such contradictions? Intelligent Adaptation. That’s how. Oh, I sound so smart but I am not smart at all, not on this lonely road, not on any road. But I have learned that it is eminently possible to move on from circumstances and situations only if a human wants to. In my journey, particularly through the older years, I find myself the moving on person. It saddens me because I know that there are wonderful people stuck inside the dead past, unable, unwilling to accept the new. Not me. Don’t let it be you. Isn’t this intelligent adaptation? What I went through is peanuts to many. I don’t need to say anything because, and this matters, I found someone professional to talk things out. Private. Secure. My regrets, my pain, my fear, all of it conversationed in the right place; thus I can walk towards the village, watching eagles fly pre buying broccoli et la la, tossing my Hallo into the day, knowing that my very private angst is in safe hands.
I called my bank today. I was welcomed with Hallo Mrs Fairbairns. It jarred me. I am not Mrs anymore and never will be. Many thinks around that one. I think about intelligent adaptation and I know that I can adapt and then rise into the me of me. However, the online thing requires a title. Mrs, Miss, Ms. No. Captain, Brigadier, Princess…… No. Each one of those titles sound like ownership. I was Mrs. I am no longer. Titles bother me, labels confound. It’s probably my issue but I doubt this affects only me. Being boxed, labelled, leaves many of us on lonely streets, wandering, wondering who we are now and where we might choose to belong or to whom. And the wandering is of import because it is not possible to adapt to a whole new life in the wake of the old and familiar one. I might feel lost at times, probably will, over and over, but I am finding my way. My Way. I won’t inwardly growl at being labelled as Mrs because I know the title to be one of respect. I also know that our language is archaic in such an area as this. I want my first name and then my second. But, wait. My second name is now my married name, which is not my name but a gift from the rule book of Traditional Marriagitis. So I continue wandering, the conundrums flitting about me like swallows. Whether or not a definite answer comes, it doesn’t really matter because I am building the new me from the inside out, using intelligent adaptation as my thought and reasoning process.
If all this sounds confusing, it is. Even to me.