Weird Exhausting Purgatory
It is surprising, given how comparatively (physically, geographically) constricted our lives have been this year, how many times I have sat down to write missives of various sorts and felt the urge to start with, “Yeesh, what a week!” Everything is relentless, and I say that as someone who has been fortunate enough to be able to maintain some sort of consistency and security throughout the last few months.
I know so many people feel the same way judging by the amount of newsletters I read that start with an apology for a delay or absence in updates; and by, well, pretty much every conversation with everyone I know.
Every September, without fail, I get itchy feet. Sometimes, it occurs earlier in the month; sometimes, later. On several occasions, I have been fooled into thinking I have avoided it, only for me to wake up one morning with a slight edginess and fizziness. I start reconsidering everything and, above all else, I want to disappear.
This year, I’ve been trying (perhaps pointlessly) to figure out how much of the way I am feeling – that same fizziness, just about tangible through the exhaustion – is as a result of this annual personal phenomena, and how much is as a result of the world being upside down.
This is not the first draft of this update. A week or two ago, I drafted an off-the-cuff 712 word thought-piece whilst enjoying tea and first breakfast in the dark of the bedroom. It started with, “Ok, this is not a pleasant breezy update. I want answers! I want thoughts! Your answers, and your thoughts.” A few days later, I sketched out four pages in my notebook of another rationalisation of what it was I wanted to do, and how I might achieve it. Previous iterations of this – some only a few months old – had grown stale already. That itchiness, again.
I have arrived at a position which is somewhere in-between. There have been some big decisions to consider recently about The Future, some of which might come to fruition in the next few months. The global pandemic hasn’t really changed anything in relation to this (though the fact we will no longer enjoy freedom of movement within Europe after the end of this calendar year has affected some speculative plans – and if, during the ongoing EU and UK negotiations, this deadline is extended in any way, then that may well change those plans again).
The increasing immediacy of potential Big Changes has focussed my thoughts to some degree, and I have now agreed with myself a truce as to the best way forward. I won’t go into further details here, as this time I want to put a few things in motion first, but I have made some decisions regarding platforms so don’t expect anything I have said in the last few months to be the state of play come January. Or next month. Or tomorrow. I have also decided to write off this year in terms of my original plans, and will be revisiting my essay plan in 2021. I simply haven’t had the time and energy to see it through how I had wanted.
“I want to be quieter, to take a breath.
I also don’t want to promise or plan, or make any form of announcements regarding timings outside very specific projects, because I think we’re all going to be in the weird exhausting purgatory for a while.”
From an earlier draft of this update
So, from Taking Stock to Cutting Slack. I will still be sharing some updates here as and when between now and the end of the year and, delightfully, I don’t know quite yet what some of these will contain. That calms me, for some reason.
Dreams and Doing
My dreams have been getting increasingly detailed and vivid, recently. In the last week alone, I have had dreams about friends new and much older – some of whom I haven’t spoken to in quite some time – and have woken with a slight niggling feeling that getting in touch with them is of the utmost importance. It has reminded me of the cards I have sitting on my desk, waiting for me to write handwritten letters to a couple of friends, and the many (many) half-written emails I have in my draft folders. As I said to my sister last night, I like to dedicate the time to really sit down and think about what I’m writing to family and friends which, perversely, often means those closest to me go longest without an update of significance, as my time and energy is increasingly depleted by life in 2020. I dream of being able to carve out time once a week – for some reason, I always think of early Sunday morning – to sit down at my beautiful desk and write letters and emails to my nearest and dearest. There will be a cup of tea to hand, most likely a break for second breakfast at some point, and by the time the rest of the family is up and about I will have a satisfying pile of letters to post.
I am also on borrowed time in the garden. I have bare root hedging plants arriving next month, and I have yet to dig out the border where they will be planted. I am racing against time to beat the first (well, second actually) frost of the season. I also have tulip bulbs to plant in the front bed, but the garden has reached that point already whereby I don’t see it really drying out now until spring.
So, this weekend, come rain (well, to a non-prohibitive extent) or shine, I plan on sitting down and writing all the letters and all the emails, and making sure I get out to dig and plant. That, and a well-overdue natter with Mum (it’s so much harder to put the world to rights during a family video-call, though (naturally) we all try our hardest), are the priority items on the docket.
It’s Beginning to Look…
I have been thinking for some time about how to celebrate Christmas this year, given it is increasingly unlikely we’ll be doing the family rounds. I’m so glad we managed to spend Auri’s first Christmas and first Hogmanay with a family each last year (my family for Christmas, Euan’s family for Hogmanay), seeing as I’m not sure that will be possible this year. I thoroughly enjoy stretching out the delights of the Christmas season. Not only the full twelve days, but the run-up to Christmas week itself. This is only likely to get more frantic and excitable in the coming years as Auri starts to understand more and more. Already, I am starting to think about and organise virtual or alternative celebrations with family and friends. I have recently had what I unashamedly consider miniature brainwaves (to coin a phrase), and this week started tentatively putting one or two in motion. As always, there is much to do to prepare; and I will love every second of it.
I have spared you the questions that I had initially drafted in my roughly sketched not-a-pleasant-breezy-update notes, but please do always feel free to contact me by replying to this update via email or by commenting online. Thoughts on what I’ve written, what you enjoy reading – or anything else really – are always welcome.
It is 7.18am and the streetlights have just gone off. The world is waking. And, as if by magic, I can hear voices coming from the bedroom. Sounds like the little one is up. Sure enough, I can hear the pitter-patter of tiny feet, getting closer. That’s my cue, friends.
I hope you and yours are all well, and are finding ways to create and maintain some sense of refuge and peace.
‘til next time,
8th October 2020
Croy, Highlands, Scotland