This is the life, this one. I wasn’t mistaken. I am in the right body, occupying the right square of space on the planet, tucked up warm in a three bedroom house on a wide highway that heads out of town, with the people I love. This is my life.
It was my birthday yesterday and I sat in a cafe in the earliest moment of the day and wrote, watching the students file past in their jackets and hats; busy people going places walking purposefully along the footpath outside the cafe window. I saw a woman in her early fifties, well-dressed, hair just so, scarf in order, ears bejewelled. I wondered, what will I look like when I am fifty-one? Who will I be? Not her, with her jewellery and her ordered appearance. But her poise? The way she lifted her head as she crossed the road, shoulders back? That’s me.
Some people take a long time to get to the good bits. I have utmost empathy for those, because I am one of them. I keep company with the lost and the downtrodden. We share the same language, traveling together on an uneven and murky road. When one of us trips, a hand reaches out of the darkness.
I found my way by moving. This is what gypsies know, what nomads and pilgrims do. A shift, a change, a significant adjustment. Sometimes this is the most vital, most imperative action. To pick ourselves up from where we were and take ourselves to where we had not yet gone. A physical exchange from old to new. A conscious decision to take part in the natural order of evolution. A continuing improvement. A continuing movement.
I have things to tell you. There are things that I know. My eyes are clear now, my mind alive. What was starved, smothered, clamped down, left to wither and fade, now thrives; veins pulsing with life. This is me putting myself back together, this is me growing up. I was girl for far too many years. Good girl, broken girl, mute.
Take in the day, take in the grey light with the tinge of pink behind the clouds, shepherd’s warning. Take in the road dark with rain, the steel and glass buildings, the green field, ancient windows perched beside it, everything connected, nothing an island here in this compact city. I’ve got so much to tell you. I could spend my life telling you.
An emotional trigger is like a tidal wave in miniature, arriving suddenly on the landscape. Put into motion by an unseen, subterranean force. It is unstoppable, completely irrational. I cannot resist it. It picks me up, takes me where I do not want to go. Tosses me back and forth until I am dizzy, I am overwhelmed. Until I am dumped out the other side, worn and relieved. Wiser.
We tread a fine line between progress and regression, one step forward two steps back, two steps forward, one step back. We talk as if the present and the future were partners in a seductive dance, one leading the other surely on. But we forget, oh how we forget, that the past is our jilted lover, hiding in the shadows that press into us, waiting for a chance to take our hand again. Desperate for another dance.
I turn my head away, I do not look back.