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.