For the first time in 3 months I have the luxury of time. Since my last post I have been working 7 day weeks, travelling non-stop for work or family events and trying to fit in those pesky little essentials: eating & sleeping. Two weeks ago I flew to Australia for a long-anticipated Xmas break. The first 2 weeks taken up with family events & social niceties but finally, this week, I checked into a beach side retreat for 2 days and, luxury of luxuries: I caught my breath! I’m not ashamed to admit that I “wasted” several hours playing on my iPad. Or that I spent a considerable portion of my first day sleeping away the beautiful sunlight. I’ll even admit that right now, instead of rushing out to explore Melbourne, I’m relaxing in my hotel lounge, drinking the free whiskey & waiting for them to bring out the free cake I’ve heard rumours of. I am well and truly “switched off”.
Unlike others who choose to disconnect from their work email when on holiday, I still have mine running on my phone. I check in every couple of days to see what’s happening & I delete the nonsense. (I like returning to a spam-free inbox.) Unlike other holidays though, I merely mark the important ones for follow up & then forget all about them. There have been several times I could have dropped a quick one-liner in reply, but I resisted by chanting the following rule: is this important enough to break the illusion that I’m uncontactable? We all know that as soon as we send that first fatal email we open the floodgates to a hundred “quick question”s and “just wanted to check”s. The web of invisibility I have successfully weaved was hard won and I won’t apologise for guarding it ferociously!
It all sounds good so far, right? There’s always a but…..now that I’m stripped bare of the emails and the “busy” and the oh-so-trivial-but-right-now-so-important things I fill my life with, I find that the real me has no where left to hide. The “new me” who practices disconnection and invisibility finally has the mental space to face up to emotions and decisions that have been buried under the flurry of my life. It hasn’t followed suit however, that the real me is ready for them. It’s easy to distract myself from inner turmoil when there’s grocery shopping to be done or a client meeting to be scheduled. Not so easy when I’m strolling along a beach listening to the crashing waves or snuggled up in bed with my beloved, eating Doritos and watching nonsense television. And so I find myself in a bittersweet and contemplative mood. This city is my oyster, promising delicious delicacies and enthralling experiences at every turn and yet my mind, and my heart, are demanding my attention. Who wins remains to be seen, although I suspect I already know the answer: if you ever find yourself in Melbourne let me know, because by this time tomorrow I’m sure I will have a detailed hour-by-hour itinerary I can send you…
The Opinionated Man posed a blogging challenge recently that struck me as very interesting. So here goes my response to: Describe a happy memory of yours and try to recall something lost from it, or perhaps missed until now. Like when you rewatch a movie and see something for the first time.
When I was 20 my Mother, my two sisters and myself travelled to London for a girly trip. My memories from that trip are like a trailer for a movie – brief flashes of scenarios without context or detail. They all hint to a happy two days with much laughter and enjoyment. My most vivid memory is of a Chinese meal, but even that is hazy. I don’t remember what we ate or even where the restaurant was but I could describe the table and it’s position in the restaurant. I could describe the cups and teapot we received after dinner. I could describe the bitter taste of my first cup of green tea and the laughter of four women from the country when they realised their error in trying to order a pot of English breakfast tea in a Chinese restaurant! And I could describe our childish antics as one by one her three daughters proceeded to trick our Mother into drinking our shares of the horrible tea.
It’s a pretty simple memory and to our fellow diners we may have looked like four slightly gauche country girls, displaying a lack of decorum in an elegant city. For me it’s a moment that never fails to cause a pang of longing in my heart. It’s a memory I take out and dust off only when I’m feeling strongest. Because it’s not something that is lost, it’s someone.
Ten years later, I long for my Mother. I long for another girly trip. I long for the ability to go back in time and tell my 20 year old self to soak it all in. I would tell her to write it down, to photograph it, to do whatever it takes to never forget that day. I would tell her to remember the details of the places visited and the address of the hotel so that one day she can revisit them. Because though she couldn’t have imagined it possible then, one day she will be left only with the memories of a horrible green tea and a vague recollection of a chinese restaurant with white tablecloths.
Today is my second least favourite day of the year. It is my mother’s birthday. Instead of buying her perfume or taking her out for dinner & a show I ordered her a bunch of flowers to put on her grave. There are some days that I’m not depressed. I’m sad. I’m lonely. I’m angry. I’m sorry. For 24 hours my brain takes a back seat and my heart takes front and centre.
Sometimes I start these days thinking it is just a normal day. Just this morning I woke up to an emergency work situation that took up the first 20 minutes of my consciousness. Then BOOM….like a ton of bricks….I remembered why I went to bed last night dreading waking up today. My stomach leapt into my throat, my world spun around me and my heart broke all over again.
My mother has been gone for two and a half years and I still reach out to pick up presents for her when I’m out shopping. Then I remember.
I found a nice verse today, which sums up the day quite nicely:
We never need a special day
To bring you to our mind,
For days without a thought of you,
Are very hard to find.
Tonight I go to a sewing class. I promised myself that every year on this day I would do something from my bucket list. Instead of being about loss I will try to make this day a tribute, by doing one of the things that I know she would have loved to hear me tell her about. My mind knows this is a great idea, but my heart is having a hard time letting it take back the reigns.
I saw this on the Little Blog of Letting Go and it really struck me.
Today’s Daily Prompt for non-fiction writers is: You’re stuck in an elevator with a person from your past. Write this scene.
I’m sorry there were times when you spoke to me and I wasn’t really listening.
I’m sorry I decided to stay in college all those weekends instead of coming home to visit.
I’m sorry I never did my dishes.
I’m sorry for not picking up the phone.
I’m sorry I didn’t know that you were sick.
I’m sorry that when I found out I listened to others instead of my heart.
I’m sorry I came home too late.
I’m sorry that trying to be strong made me distant.
I’m sorry I lied to you that he sent you those flowers – I wanted you to think I’d be okay.
I’m sorry that I asked a God I don’t believe in to take you away – I wanted to give you peace.
I’m sorry that I never realised how much you meant until you were gone.
I’m sorry that I can never tell you how much I love you.