Sunday, April 6, 2008

Blossom and Bicycles


Early blossom. Yellow celandine and the bruised blue of grape hyacinth. Greenfinches dart and flutter in the branches of the rowan tree in the garden. Exhausted relationships morph into shapes I'd never imagined because truth will always, always out. Yet it doesn't do to give up on love and joy. On warmth and tenderness and touch. How could I? Something close to elation is tracking the footsteps of loss.

It still feels strange to be alone in my mid-fifties, without partner or children. I am an anomaly, in spite of all those futile efforts when I was young to blend in. (There's nothing wrong with blending in per se providing you don't do as I once did and make it your life's purpose). I ponder the seeming inevitabilities and conditioning that have led to this point, what - if any - gifts of mine are needed by the planet and whether it's time to stop dying my hair to cover (or blend in as the blurb on the packet says) the grey. I enjoy the town and the job - its ethos and people - and fret over balancing my budget in this low-wage county.

The days slip by smoothly one by one. Impossible to decipher the bigger picture, how the pieces of a life fit together. Uncertainty is what makes living such a whacky business, and it's all ridiculously transitory. Fossils have been found in the fields where we walked a few weeks ago - those hills once formed part of an ocean floor. And there's a place locally where you can book an environmentally friendly burial plot with a tree as a gravemarker. I'm a little surprised at my own pleasure at this discovery. Silver birch perhaps, with sweeping branches that are never totally still? Or a lime tree, for the heady scent of the blossom on a summer's evening?


A friend tells me on the telephone that the real high point of her life to date was not meeting her lover. Nor giving birth to her daughter.

It was, she says, learning to ride a bicycle as a little girl one morning on a dirt track in East Africa, the day her father finally took his steadying hand off the saddle. Short chubby legs pushing down on the pedals, picking up speed in the hot, dry air, the shock of the realisation - one that she could never have articulated that day - that it was possible to break through limitations, to fly out free into the wide world.

I've rarely heard her voice so certain and joyful. As she talks she's back on the bicycle again.


zhoen said...

A rich, well lived life. Growth and change, every year new buds. You sow joy, you know.

I struggled with the dying vs greying. It's a process, with it's discomforts, either way. Could dye it purple... Every choice brings benefits and losses.

leslee said...

Lovely post, MM. I like the new blog site. And as another still-single in mid-life (will be 50 this September) I hear you.

The Mountain Astrologer magazine had a piece about love at mid-life (40-60) that I was just reading last night. It was interesting, although not earth-shattering. The progressed Lunar Return (at 54+) is one turning point that can clear some old things up, as can the Saturn Return at 58-59. The overall message was hopeful. Some difficult relationship patterns take along time to resolve, but can do so at midlife and free space up for happiness and maybe a very compatible relationship.

Sky said...

Glad I found you again. Had wondered if you were returning. I have a feeling you get very bored very easily - is that true? :)

I married late in life. My husband has said that I would never have given him any attention had he met me when I was younger. Then I was always living on the edge. My life had drama, and I seemed to be on an adrenalin rush much of the time. Lovers were long-term, but the intensity could suffocate. I learned late in life what real love is, that state of respect, of nurturing and support within unconditional acceptance. How much more fulfilling this love is.

My husband is probably right. And, oh my, was he and our love worth waiting for, worth growing into! I am glad I was more mature and ready to truly settle in and do the emotional work marriage requires when I met him. I am the luckiest woman I know!

I had decided I would never marry when he pranced into my life, this gorgeous young Indian with a generous heart and a sensitive nature, who was full of curiosity and gentleness, who was open to life and love. Surprise adventures happen at any age and sometimes when you least expect them.

Stella said...

I'm so glad to see you back, and in your new digs, to boot. Though I certainly understand those blog-breaks too.

Hair-dyeing. I've been grey quite a long while now and have not colored it. However, if there were a truly, truly non-toxic, completely natural choice, it might be harder to remain stubborn on my principles of not hiding aging.

As for being alone, well, sometimes I'm rather taken aback by it, but at 52 I've been alone for almost 20 years. (My, how is that possible?)

Happy to see you again, to read your words. Blessings upon your way...

Dale said...

Thirty years after, I glance back in my college journals, and they're full of angst about some pretty girl or other whose name doesn't even conjure a picture any more.

What lasted from those years is what I most took for granted: the four history-buff buddies who got together with me on weekends and played complexer and complexer versions of Kingmaker (a game about the Wars of the Roses): we made up elaborate rules for church politics and obscure branches of the royal family coming into play, tables and charts and who knows what.

I don't miss the girl at all, but I miss those guys and those weekends.

winterwood said...

love your new space and especially your writing style - a treat to read! I sense quiet joy bubbling there in the stream of spring! am I right?

winterwood said...

had to add this PS. I had the game kingmaker, and sorry to say threw it out after many years of not being able to understand how to play this struggling with the grey hair...more and more of it ...and what to do???

Anonymous said...

amen, sister single and free :) how sweet is it to be able to stretch your wings on a daily basis? wish we lived down the street from one another and could share a walk and cup of tea :)

Anonymous said...

I like your new space, and I love the bicycle story. Such freedom and confidence at the moment of realization. I would like some of that.

mm said...

Zhoen: Dying vs greying. I think motive is all here, though I am uncomfortable with the effect of the chemicals that Stella mentions in her comment.

Leslee: Thanks. You know, this decade has been one of the best of my life. I need to get a subscription to TMA. I had one but it lapsed.

Sky: Thank you so much for sharing the story of you and your husband. It lifts the heart. Re blogging breaks - not boredom, more like internet sensory overload. Sometimes I just need to be in real life for a spellwithout obsessing about the next blog post.:-)

Stella: Blessings back to you. I take on board totally your angle on hair dye chemicals.

Dale: Ah, one day you must do a blog post on those Kingmaker sessions (or have you done one already???).

Winterwood: Very glad you picked up on the joy. It's definitely there!

Kate : I'd put the kettle on for a cuppa in a heartbeat if I knew you were heading this way!

Tky: That sense of freedom is what I loved when I was told the story.

Always good to see you here.

herhimnbryn said...

mm. Glad to have found your new abode. I understand about the internet overload.

This post had me gazing out at the garden and thinking about your words. All so pertinent to me too!

I like my greying hair ( now that it is very short). I was alone for a long time and married late.....we accept each other's foibles ( would we, when younger?)

The story of your friend learning to ride her bicycle, bought tears to my eyes ( happy ones).

You have such truth in your words and your joy ( despite your worries about finances) is always there.

starnitesky said...

Lovely post - I too am in my fifties and alone, at times I don't like it at all, other times I enjoy the freedom. The hair - I frequently have this debate with myself!

The story from your friend about the bicycle was endearing.