We’ve had an incredibly lengthy period of freezing conditions and heavy snow. Our back yard has a constant 8” on the walls, flower pots and anywhere we haven’t trampled, as it melts slightly and settles we get more inches on top. Yesterday I walked to collect my new bike and it was hard work with most pavements covered in a couple of inches of ice, slush and snow.
By the early evening it was worse and a trip into town to pick up prescriptions and food supplies left me feeling really worried.
I’m self employed and have to travel all over North and West Yorkshire for work. If a session is cancelled by my employer under 24hrs before I still get paid, if they cancel in advance or I cancel because I can’t get there I don’t get paid.
In this economic climate where we’re scraping together every penny aware that our work may all but disappear in March, this is really scary. My partner’s had 2 session’s cancelled already.
Last night, with the weather getting worse - cars abandoned in the middle of the road in town - I was tired out from trudging through the ice and snow and feeling increasingly worried at the prospect of getting stuck in some random place on a train. Anxiety set in.
Thankfully my partner is amazing in situations like this, as I crumbled with the decisions I had to make he told me to stay home, not to worry about the money, we’ll find a way. Better that I’m safe.
I got up intending to give it a go but my first session was cancelled by my employer which gave me the strength to realistically say no to the second session of the day.
Personal safety versus making ends meet, that’s an age old problem for the working person. I’m grateful I have the luxury to choose safety for now.
On Thursday I travelled to Robin Hood’s Bay to visit my Grandma’s house for the last time before it is sold. The house clearers were due 1st thing Friday morning so after a last meal around the dining room table we set about salvaging the last of what we wanted to keep. Such a strange feeling as so many things were filled with memories that these last moments to decide were fraught with a sense of desperation. Exhausted with anticipation and dread we tried to get an early night.
I woke early and began the day immediately with that hazy, groggy, gritty feeling, like the morning before a funeral. Before long we’d picked up final odds and ends and moved bits of furniture onto the lawn ready to go into my Dad’s house for storage. Seeing those things stacked outside in the half-light of daybreak felt utterly dream-like. Reminding me of one of my Grandad’s favourite films - The quiet man. In it the main character marries a feisty irish girl who moves her dowry of furniture - her ‘mother’s things’ - into his cottage. So there in front of me was my chosen dowry to move into our new home when we have one. A physical symbol of their all their investment in my life and in my future.
So the various people came to clear the house and after an hour or so we escaped to walk and process the day while we waited for them to finish. There was an unexpected feeling of relief that all this was finally happening, we could get on with letting go.
It was all over by mid-afternoon so, exhausted and overwhelmed we said a last goodbye and journeyed home.
My grandparents bought the house on 31st October 1975, 35 years to the day the contracts were due to be completed and it would no longer be in our family.
That afternoon I was exhausted so I began reading A Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. I spent the next 36 hours, reading, sleeping and talking to my partner about all that had happened. Saturday felt awful, exhausted, emotional and grumpy. I finished the book before I went to sleep.
I’d like to talk about the amazing and haunting relevance I felt in reading this book but I think that blog post must wait for another time. For know I’m just grateful that it provided a buffer of escape after such an epic weekend.
I was at the Coastguard Station in Robin Hood’s Bay, my Dad and Grandad were there. It was evening, I had just passed my driving test and bought a little old banger of a car (something like an old Lada with cream and green paintwork). I decided I wanted to use my new found freedom to drive to Whitby to rent a video and get some food. The last thing I remember of the dream is driving the car up Bay bank, it almost didn’t make it but I managed to get it up there and drive off into the exciting darkness, full of possiblilities.
This dream was lovely on so many levels:
It was evocative of new found freedom, achievement and adventure
It was so comfortably ordinary, every day and safe, feelings I yearn for when I visit Bay.
My Grandad was alive which always brings me great comfort in dreams.
Left me with a lovely feeling today. It’s Saturday today, the sun is shining and I have a whole day off apart from errands which seem nothing compared to the last week (working with 6 different groups and travelling all over Yorkshire to do it as well as about 15 hrs of admin at home).
Tomorrow I must succumb to accounting and tax return but for today I am free.
I have been thinking a lot about the roles I play in my life. At the moment I seem rather stuck in the role of facilitator, partly because that’s my job but I seem to have been facilitating in my personal life recently because that is what is required of me. It is exhausting but inescapable and necessary.
I want to surrender to the chaos but I won’t.
I look forward to the day when this big, huge chunk of sorting out in my personal life is done and I can explore my other life-roles. I dream of being:
I’ve been having wildly vivid dreams recently, revisiting old dream territory:
I dreamt that I could fly (not dreamt that for years!) but that I knew I wasn’t dreaming so I was flying in real life. Such a sense of elation and capability.
I dreamt about my Grandma’s house (a common setting for my dreams but I don’t usually dream about the whole house, just the living room) and being there with my Grandma, my aunt, my cousin and her children. My cousin’s youngest wanted a cuddle from me when he was upset. There was a sense of hectic but content togetherness. We went up to the top floor where there was a secret attic room, it was unused and had scrappy bits and pieces lying around including old photos, then the mood felt sad and full of difficult reminiscence.
I dreamt about being terribly ill (again this is a fairly common theme often with people ignoring how ill I am) but I was content and accepting of the state. No one seemed to really care but that was ok. I was dying from something kidney-related and in hospital but I had to get something from the library so I went out in my hospital gown. I couldn’t find what I wanted there so began to make my way back to the hospital, by this time it was dark and the streets were crowded. I wasn’t sure I could make it so I sat down, I needed to write a letter to my Dad. By this time I was weak and in pain, someone stole the contents of my bag and I sat there, not panicking or being distressed, just accepting it all.
“The very least you can do in your life is figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope, not admire it from a distance but live right in it, under its roof. What I want is so simple I almost can’t say it: elementary kindness. Enough to eat, enough to go around. The possibility that kids might one day grow up to be neither the destroyers or the destroyed. Right now I’m living in that hope, running down its hallway and touching the walls on both sides.”—
Animal Dreams, Barbara Kingsolver, Abacus (London) 2001, p299
“What keeps us going isn’t some fine destination but just the road you’re on, and the fact that you know how to drive. You keep your eyes open, you see this damned-to-hell world you got born into, and you ask yourself, “What life can I live that will let me breathe in & out and love somebody or something and not run off screaming into the woods?”—
Animal Dreams, Barbara Kingsolver, Abacus (London) 2001, p224