Week 009 (2.11.20)
The metal is cold under the thin layer of my trousers, but I am warm enough not to mind. My breath is jagged, my heart pumping blood too fast in my body.
Behind me, my longboard rests silent. I drop my chin onto the upper rail of the guard bolted to the concrete bridge above the brook. I am not warm enough for bare skin against metal but the sensation is growing on me. I feel alive.
In the distance, a person whistles at their dog incessantly. A bicycle passes behind me, its front light illuminating my world for an instant, all becoming sharp and detailed, my shadow drifting on the brook’s verge and water to the rhythm of their pedal strokes.
The road hums not far away. The rules of this lockdown allowing for normal traffic to continue. I miss the quiet of the first lockdown, every drip and trickle of the brook audible without stretching my listening.
A siren rings briefly, too far away for me to identify it. The remnant of the past week fireworks still peppers the sky with colours and explosions.
I wonder if they’re celebrating tonight. The USA presidency has finally be called. Joe Biden will move into the white house. I don’t think the fireworks are for him. Everything is too eerily quiet here, people too concerned about worries closer to home.
I laugh the the thought, the old Chinese curse echoing in my mind. May you live in interesting times.
A few hours earlier I have uttered this very phrase while talking to a friend on Skype. ‘I am tired of living through history with a big H.’
It was a meaningless thing to say. Even as I uttered the words I knew that. I am alive and well, white and privileged, safe and secure. I am okay. And the world does need to change. I know that too. But I am tired.
I think back to the only diary entry I wrote in my paper journal this week. I am bone tired, eyes itching, eyelids dropping. It was the second of November. My body was paying the price for a week spent visiting friends, going to the chiropractor, and waltzing through the imminent changes of rules by ignoring the incoming shifts to my life.
The mantra to live day to day anchored itself in my brain, refusing to entertain the thought of being made furloughed again, of Trump winning the presidency in the USA, of the utter certainty of not seeing my family for Christmas. But all those thoughts lingered in the background, sending me crashing down on Tuesday. My anxiety took hold of me, my body rattled by fear, my brain trapped by an overwhelming onslaught of emotions.
And I let go.
The following day at work, everyone was there. The sun high in the sky, we put bicycles away in gestures repeated from the previous lockdown, the question of how many bicycles can fit into the ladies toilet already answered (60 if you’re wondering). We laughed and joked and drank bottomless cups of tea. I watched P. whirl on the track, first with a quad cycle, then a tricycle, and finally a two wheeler. I ached to give her a hug. We have barely had any time to get to know each other but I needed to cling to another body, anchor myself down, and not burst into tears again. Instead, I captured a photo of her riding into the sun.
The bell around a dog’s collar twinkles as it approaches the bridge.
‘Sorry mate,’ their human says as their light flash in my eyes.
‘It’s alright,’ I reply automatically.
The bell sounds a few more times before the trickle of the brook takes over again. Tears silently streak my cheeks.
‘It’s alright,’ I repeat in a whisper.