Wednesday, February 08, 2017

The adjustment bureau

I've managed somehow to keep the dogs out of my bed, which is a miracle in and of itself. Thistle still quizzes me, her brow furrowed, her huge brown eyes imploring me to invite her up. Some days, the particularly grey ones, I'm tempted to break my own rules. They seem to be enjoying their new life -- a brisk walk before breakfast, a longer walk before lunch, exploring the highways and byways of Buckinghamshire, one footpath at a time. Thistle has already been introduced to sheep (an experience that now makes me reach for the lead at the most distant of baas) and Bean thinks big, wet, grassy meadows are the most fun to charge about in.

And so it is for me, getting used to this new way of living. Routine is important. Breathing in fresh air is important. Walking is important. And making sure that work is a priority. I know I can't have it both ways, and as I have a penchant for making things as difficult as they can be, I have to work my arse off to make sure I'm still ahead of the game, even if I'm batting from the Chilterns. I'm determined to be better, stronger, smarter and to not give in to the overwhelming feeling that I've carved out too hard of a row. With my lovely man at a festival, and my children not by my side, and most of my girlfriends in Los Angeles, living in a village without a shop, it can get quite lonely. I don't have a television by design, but I do see why mindless viewing on cold evenings can be soothing. The nicest part is that my mama is near enough to drop by for lentil soup and dates and cheese for lunch, and that can't be beaten.

What is it about maps that helps you find your place in the world? I love to unfold mine and lay it out on the desk and look at the footpaths that lace through the Chilterns. There are footpaths everywhere. We walk in increasingly intricate squares, big loops that bring us home two hours later, discovering new hamlets: Braziers End, Bellingdon, Heath End, Asheridge, Buckland Common, Hawridge Common, Oak Road, Bottom Road, Rays Hill, Grims Ditch. Walking has become my sanity, my worship, my saviour. If it's below freezing, the dogs wear their coats. If not, they brave it. I think there are secrets in the paths, things that will be revealed to me if I study them well enough. I have to be a student of the new land I'm in. I'm open. I'm trying to be open. (Hello to the big brown buzzard who sits in the oak tree outside my kitchen window and stares me down. Yes, I know you're trying to give me a message. I'm just not tuned in enough yet to know what it is. But, my, you're magnificent.)

I didn't sleep last night. I bathed at 2 in the morning, thinking the hot water would help me sleep, but still sleep eluded me. And the mornings after not sleeping are bleak. Man, are they bleak! I spent a lot of energy today telling myself not to react to anything, to wait a day to weigh things up.

There is sobriety and fastidious attention to detail. Every penny must count. There is enough beauty to make up for the things you buy to create a happy balm. I am trying to be frugal, to settle in, to avoid being impetuous. I wanted to get a horse, but I am making myself wait until it feels doable. (This makes me sad, to be honest: I found a lovely mare but I'm going to have to walk away from her.) This is being a grown up, I think. Purge. Nest. Be meticulous. Do your work well. Be kind.


Lou said...

I didn't know you'd moved back! I am behind; this book writing business gets in the way of my blog reading. Welcome to the grey, I wish England could offer you better but there will be a time when you'll wake to glorious sunshine and the dogs will run in camomile fields and you'll realise that it's all OK. Nice to have you near anyway. You're very brave. Lou xx

Katherine C. James said...

It's lovely to find your posts when I'm up late and about to sleep. This is a beautiful piece. Your honesty makes me feel what you are feeling, as much as one can, and it makes me feel better about myself, where I am, the choices I am making, the difficulties I am encountering. I love, "Purge. Nest. Be meticulous. Do your work well. Be kind." I'd like to write that out for myself and post it over my desk. As I've mentioned, my dad made maps. I think maps are a representation of the human capability to be meticulous; to do one's work well. I have to make each penny count in a way I've never had to before. It is both exhilarating when I do it well, and upsetting in its limitations. I'm still trying to figure that out. I miss traveling whenever I want to the most. I've been purging from the closing of three households. It's difficult because I have so many family things to consider. My own things are simpler. I've always enjoyed having fewer things, but beautiful things. Nesting will come when I begin looking for a place again. I stopped some months after my mother died. I'm ready to begin again. It has always been important to me to try to be kind. There's a pleasure in kindness and its echoes returning, not always, but often enough. xo.

Rafe's Hotel said...

Let's see ... you're going to get horse and you've found a lovely mare, but you're walking away from her. H'm? Really? Sure you don't just need to envision a different schedule? :)