Scenes of life - Week 013
Week 013 (30.11.20)
‘That is not a T,’ L. exclaims as she inspects the certificate I have just handed to her through the perspex window.
I open my mouth to reply but I have nothing to say. ‘Look, it’s not a T,’ she repeats wagging the certificate at my colleague, M., who is standing outside. He looks at me and we both smile. ‘You need to practice your cursives,’ he jokes at me.
‘I sure do,’ I reply trying to stifle a laugh. L. has stopped complaining about my writing. Instead she has joined her sister H. in describing in details what they have learned at school the previous week. M. listens carefully, prompting them on with questions. I watch their dialogue in silence, happy to be witness to this moment.
Past the barriers sheltering L. and H., children and their family are flooding out of the gates and I cannot help but smile. An hour earlier, they had all trickled in, children rubbing hand gel onto their hands as if it were the most natural thing to do. After months of repetition, those gestures have become normal, something not to be questioned. Helmets strapped on, they lined up for bicycles before being let loose on the track. From the office I could hear the indistinct chatter of adults and children alike, the only difference found in their pitch and intensity of their voices. Laughter reached me as well as tears of frustration.
L. and H. shout their goodbye. I wave at them as they step off the raised platform by the office and follow the last families out. In half an hour another group of family will fill the silence, drowning the songs of birds for a moment. I settle at my desk, filling in paperwork, answering e-mails, and doing other admin tasks in the lull of the day. My colleagues are all outside, cleaning, wiping, and preparing for the next session with the help of volunteers.
In the evening, my partner picks me up from work. I rest my head against the car window and breathe. My world is changing again, my body and mind reeling against the change in spite of wanting this return of the public at work. I feel like a boat rocking on an ever shifting sea, my being carried along without any control. I think back of a couple of days earlier when lockdown was about to be lifted. Nothing changed around me other than my rota at work to allow for week-end opening once more.
I wonder how long I will have in this new routine. The Christmas break is looming close, ready to snap my fragile balance in two, my brain spiralling out of control again, my focus shifting left and right, my breathing accelerating, my mind incapable of stillness. And then 2021. I will have to start looking for a new job. Again. I will find myself out of stability, again. I close my eyes and focus on the rattling of the window bumping my head gently. The motion of the car brings me back into my body, into the space I inhabit, into the present time.
When I open my eyes again we are close to home. I have three days off from work, one of which is my birthday. I remember days gone by when I would have hopped on my bicycle and travelled up and down country lanes, finding shelter at night in the woods or fields surrounding me. Instead I have to stay home, a space I have learned to inhabit in a way I never have before.
My partner swerves the car into our parking spot. The engine stops. I walk out of the car and enter our home, feeling tired, feeling alive, feeling sad, feeling content, feeling lost, feeling safe.