The nine-year-old glides past me on a unicycle, helmeted, demanding hot chocolate. The 11-year-old whisks into the house announcing the need for a band-aid, attending to it himself, and leaving again just as quickly. There’s a cat sitting on the chair in front of me, eyeing me up for some known-to-cats-only reason. It’s just a Friday night in my kitchen, I have a glass of red right here, I don’t really need to get up. I might, to orchestrate the hot chocolate, because I’m feeling magnanimous, but I don’t have to. Even the cat looks quite content, for now.
I’m busy firing witticisms around on Facebook, because that’s what passes for Friday night excitement when you’re old like us. My husband asks me excitedly if Ace Ventura Pet Detective is suitable for the kids, but luckily the 9yo is adamant that she wants Pocahontas or Tarzan 2. At least someone knows what’s what around here.
I’ve been working this week – actual billable hours on two separate projects, not just writing that might be for nobody. Mabel’s been at school, just like she’s supposed to be. My parents are finally together in the same nursing home, and I can pay their bills out of their bank account so my dad has less to worry about. The house in Dublin is nearly sold. Things are better. We can plan ahead instead of being stuck in one-day-at-a-time mode. Everyone complains about January being 278 weeks long but I sort of like it that way because in January I don’t have to think about anything but getting back to normal. Once it’s February I have to feel bad about all the summer planning I won’t actually do till March. Such is life. You’d think I’d be used to it by now.
The cat just turned around a few times and settled down to make himself comfortable. He’s settling down for the long haul. Maybe I should pour myself some more wine. There’s some issue with the chromecast so the film hasn’t started but the 9yo has found herself a Harry Potter quiz on my phone instead. There might be snow on Saturday night, but that’s a great time for snow because nobody has school until Tuesday next week. We can take some real snow now. We’ll even enjoy it, because spring is around the corner.
Spring is around the corner. I think I can cope with that.
(The 11yo has just come in and is serenading the cat with Hey Jude. This is not at all relevant but it’s so delightfully random that I had to mention it. The cat’s trying hard to go back to sleep.)
I got back from Ireland on the Tuesday evening of that week. On the Friday, B and I did something we haven’t done for years and years – we went to a concert. A real proper concert, not just a gig. We saw Paul Simon, and it was amazing.
There were moments during the evening when the long relationship I’ve had with Paul Simon’s music, and how it’s been intertwined with that other long relationship in my life – the one with my husband – made my brain do that expand-and-contract thing (imagine, if you will, a slidy trombone noise) as it tried to take in the expanse of time from my first experience of Paul Simon to where I am now. Timey wimey, wibbly wobbly indeed.
Sometimes all the points in my life seem to be laid out on a flat surface rather than along a timeline. The distance from any one to another might be near or far but bears no connection to such two-dimensional things as years and decades. I can vividly remember a moment when I was 20, but not necessarily last week.
The older I get, the more this will happen, I bet. It’s unnerving, this living in the world business, if you look at it from a height.
Though maybe it was the jetlag too. It was a very whiplashy week, going from filial responsibilities and reminders of inescapable mortality to pure selfish entertainment with a side of romantic nostalgia with little but a transatlantic flight and the graduation from elementary school of my elder child to buffer the two extremes.
That sort of enforced perspective can really mess with your mind. Maybe just as well we don’t manage to do it very often.
Yesterday it rained all day, on and off, ranging from drizzle to steady fall. It was our edge of Hurricane Matthew, probably, and we were lucky to get off so lightly. I made chili for dinner, because it was definitely chili weather. This morning the skies were a deep blue etched high up with feathery clouds, the breeze was stiff, and the air was chilly.
Dash got dressed in the same shorts and t-shirt he was wearing yesterday. I suggested he rethink that, so he went full-on in the other direction, reappearing in cosy tracksuit bottoms, long-sleeved top, and – he announced – his ski socks.
Then he put on a hoodie and his jacket as well, and demanded mittens. Cue everyone running upstairs to ransack the cold-weather-accoutrements bag, where hats and scarves and gloves live in the summer. He got his mittens, Mabel pulled out earmuffs and a scarf and gloves, and they were well protected against the elements for a trip to the farmers’ market.
The sunshine is filtering through the trees behind the house, sending dancing shadows onto my yellow kitchen walls with every blast of the wind. The lawn is starting to collect this year’s ransom of yellow leaves; just a sprinkling so far. There are boys playing football at the front of the house and a girl drawing pictures inside it.
I made a tarte tatin with apples from the market for tonight, since the chili is already in the fridge. I usually save that recipe for special occasions, but maybe the first day of real autumn weather is enough.