“Don’t you feel as though this week has just flown by?”
I looked up slowly, allowing the question to percolate alongside the knowledge, like a sudden slap, that WonderAunty’s week has clearly been an other-end-of-the-spectrum experience from mine. Chin still in hand, fingers dangling in my book to keep my place, I watched her whizz around Doing Things. “No,” I eventually ventured, “it’s been a really really long week – it’s felt like every minute has dragged itself by on its knees.”
She looked at me quizzically, still amidst the flurry of her simultaneous tasks. “Really? Mine has gone VROOM!”
I finished my book and sat for several long minutes, just staring into space, my gaze landing idly on the things of the breakfast room – photographs of family members past and present; art hanging on the walls; orchids blooming on the windowsills – and having come to absolutely no conclusion about anything, I pulled a recently-extinguished candle towards me and began coating my fingertips with the melty wax, watching it turn to smooth, unpolished blobs of build-up, before ‘popping’ them off, back into the candle in thin, petal-like curls embellished with some of the whorls and whirls which show my identity.
I picked one up and looked at it, studying the lines within the tiny, waxy cup. No thoughts struck me. No inspiration hit. My mind seemed to be stuck on a white-noise channel in the face of almost too much to say about the week, the state of the world, the state of myself…
I showered, irritated by the need to wipe drips off everything at the end (knowing, though, that it’s good housekeeping and helps immeasurably with keeping things nice), and slightly peeved about the faff of needing to shower when I’m only going to go to the gym tomorrow and need to shower again. I dried myself carelessly, vaguely wondering how I always manage to forget to dry my feet, before wishing that I’d organised myself into buying another bottle of that nice coconutty, not-tested-on-animals, after-shower-body-moisturising stuff I had before. It’s been run out for a week and I’ve left it, because it’s a bit more expensive than I’d normally buy, and I resent spending money on me when I’d rather save for Murica.
Pyjama’d, I ran a quick review of my unfeasably long week and wondered what the hell I was going to write about – what on earth I’d say when I’ve been feeling as though my ‘voice’ might have dried up to nothing, and as though the only thing I seem half able to write these days (or, should I say, the only thing I write which seems to gather much interest (and that because it’s part of a link-up, and visiting around is polite)) is half-hearted attempts at finding the thankfuls in my life, and share them in ways which don’t make readers wish they’d spent their time poking themselves in the eye with a stick, instead.
There were points which stood out, sure:
There was the awkward, determinedly light-hearted chat with a bearded healthcare assistant about goodness-knows-what, while the doctor did whatever it was he needed to do at the hinder end of me, as my internal monologue chuntered “They do this all the time, there’s no need to be embarrassed, it’s just a medical procedure, it doesn’t even matter, this is just their everyday work, it’s fine, it’s probably not as bad as some of their other patients’…” Followed by the relief and concern of knowing that yes, further surgery would be necessary, but not until autumn, and this might FIX things…but also might indicate that a third surgery would be necessary, and then…no, perhaps America in November might be a bit ambitious and need pushing back.
There was the triumph of submitting my first college assignment…and then the immediate loss of impetus, coupled with a hazy determination to do something more with it at the weekend.
There was the pleasure and pain of getting back to a 12kg kettlebell workout, then the humiliation and appreciation of a chap interrupting to demonstrate how squats *should* be done, so they’re safe (turns out I’ve been doing it wrong for years.)
There was the momentary elation of receiving a $10 honourary judge’s award for a poem I submitted to a competition, and the ensuing, settling realisation of what a really, really small deal this was, in the grand scheme of things.
There was the excitement and furore of being able to shout out loud that my amazing best friend has been awarded a BlogHer Voice of the Year for her #BeReal series, and the accompanying small voice (probably in the backs of the minds of all writers who weren’t picked, or weren’t nominated) suggesting that if I’d ever written anything worthwhile, it could have been me. I was just grateful my envy was mitigated by the fact SHE won, because of her wonderful series, and because I nominated her (the small voice then suggested perhaps this was because I’d do anything for a bit of the limelight, and pondered at length on what an attention-seeker I am.)
There was the middle-of-the-night creeping annoyance of small-boy knees dug into my hips, and not-so-small-boy-sounding snores rasping across the pillow at me, followed later by a sudden wail from the top bunk, which was a small-girl nightmare that needed Grandma, because Aunties are a bit more peripheral, a bit less capable at dealing with nighttime monsters.
There was gritted-teeth professionalism of dealing with a Very Grumpy Woman, who seemed utterly determined to be displeased at everything, from the get-go, and whose constant instructions to her husband to “write that down as well”, for a letter of complaint about the entirety of the service she was offered, from point of invitation onwards, had me struggling to keep my cool as I tried to remember that her expressions of anger and disgust weren’t about me, and were about very real-for-her experiences and feelings.
There was the laugh from my friend on the adjacent exercise bike, as she admonished me not to fall asleep, and remarked that she could tell I was tired if she was going faster than I was. My retort back was quashed by a yawn as I leaned forwards into the difficult bit, my aching legs desperately trying to keep spinning at (what I deemed) a reasonable pace, as the tiredness felt as though it was creeping bone deep and further, into my soul.
There was the banal necessity of grocery shopping, picking fruits and veggies and cans of beans and trying to remember that when I go to America I won’t be able to afford as much as I do now, and the knowledge that this, at least, might help me shift the extra pounds which seem to stubbornly adhere to places I’d rather they didn’t.
Then there was this – the snuggled-in-blanket, here-we-are-again attempt at writing a list of thankfuls, wondering at the ways in which I find myself so ready to complain about my life, when really, each of those moments represents a luxury, an absolute fucking PRIVILEGE. Privileges which are denied to so many on the basis of so many things which are just ‘how they are’, and so many things which are absolutely unfair and not at all how they should be.
The privileges of family, home, warm water, good healthcare, access to education, access to stuff to keep me fit, the luxury of poetry, the wonder of excitement about a friend’s success, the complex cherishings of kids, the having of a stable job, of being healthy, of having friends, of having food, of having the time and space to whinge about them all…privileges which I absolutely take for granted altogether too much of the time.
Privileges which, this week, have been permanently taken from very much too many people. Brown people. Black people. White people.
People whose most basic gift of all – life – was taken from them, horribly, tragically, by those who seek to promote awfulness in this world.
And this world, this aching world, this hurting, breaking, fracturing world, needs people of privilege to stop whining and start doing. To love, in the face of all that goes on, because the only thing which can overcome the horror of it all, somehow, is people, everywhere, every day, living love, doing love, in big ways and small ways and all ways.
I am thankful now, more than ever, to know my purpose.