So much seems incongruous. Not least that I am back in the Outpost. Is life really a circle? Or a game of Snakes and Ladders? You made a reckless mistake that you need to learn from: back to square one you go. And so we are here. Back. It’s a different place this time around. The Outpost. Bigger. Busier. Noisier; the soundtrack to my day the persistent agitated buzz of bodabodas as they go to and from, up and down the road where I live, touting for business or relaying the business they already have from one end of this dusty little town to the other.
I’m in a different house. Two doors down. Another home to create, another garden to grow. And all of that is a very good thing for I am back here, victim to the Outpost’s unrelenting glare without the protective shield of my Hat and all the distracting guises came in. When we first arrived she was ten and tiny with a head of tousled titian curls. Now she is willowy tall and twenty. And far away at university.
In the troubled hiatus between leaving the Outpost and returning, I tried myriad ways to keep busy, to retain a focus but every time I got my feet under the table, wherever the table had most recently been relocated and unpacked to, I found myself moving again. I lost as much of myself as I did possessions that were shed across four countries, nine homes, countless moves …
But this desk where I sit now has been here long enough to gather a reassuring film of dust beneath it. So there has been time to breath deep and take stock. There has been time to gather about me the things that sustain in the sometime face of loneliness. The perennial gap gouged of children leaving home even though you had insisted all along that you were a stayathomemum. As if the insistence might keep them loyally at your side?
I am putting roots down. A task that, this morning, the gardener is assisting with as we create a rockery. He thinks I am as absurd as I imagine my life to be. He especially thinks that because I am urging him to move stones from one end of the garden to the other, to bury them in topsoil in order that succulents can take hold. He does not question my madness. He patiently accepts the explanation that I need to ‘make a little hill’ in the garden and then plant a large rock squarely upon it.
Hat sent me this picture yesterday and I am flung toward memories.
Sometimes the gap between nurturing your children so that they might fly, and the point at which they are big enough to unfurl their wings presents itself with such suddenness that you are at once tripped up and winded.
It is important, then, I have found, to be able to reach out a hand and grab onto something to steady yourself. It is nine years since I bought my heels as I tried to buy back time.
At last I think I have found a crutch to steady myself.