Rosie and I leave tomorrow evening. Each time I close my eyes, I try to visualise my home in London: the narrow stairwell, the cramped landing, the avocado painted kitchen, the one bedroom and one living room, the sun filled bathroom.
I am preparing myself for the spacial oppression. There will be no echoey hallways or obscenely large (by London standards) front and back gardens. There will be a kitchen and living room overlooking a dual carriageway. There will be cobwebs spun by carefree daddy longlegs. And there will be rats in the back yard.
If I think back to the first 10 days of my trip here in Canada, I remember the anxiety most – the long distance phone calls to London, the anguished failed attempts at reaching Ben, the desperate clawing at anyone who would listen, trying to get Ben into detox and then rehab. In between, there was the edit I’d agreed to do on a document for work. So, I was working while on leave, too, in between panicked phone calls and bouts of rage.
My holiday started the day after those first 10 days (+/- a couple of days). It really began when I took Rosie and left for the mountains in the back of my friend’s car. As we left the city behind us, as the ground rose up beneath us, I felt the tension in my head do a downward dog and simply fizzle away. We were free.
Where did the rest of my holiday go, I wonder? I can’t quite remember, but there were plenty of bike rides and visits with friends, meals with family, days out with my niece and Rosie, and a lot of thinking about what I will do when I return.
Yesterday, I took my bike out. Friends ask me how I’ve coped with Ben’s drinking over the past few years and my answer is always the same: running. But if I wasn’t running, I’d be cycling.
Yesterday, I cycled through woods and along a river, avoiding highways and rail lines. The route went from mediocre to stunning. My mind emptied and my lungs were full. It was one of those rides where I beat the rain, keeping dry by outpacing the clouds.
I could have kept going. I wanted to keep going. But the last time I went cycling like that, my mum rang my brother in a blind panic, fearing I’d died or was lying in a ditch somewhere just because I’d been gone an hour. (Yes, my mother is one of those types of mums – the type you love, appreciate and have to live 5,000km away from to maintain your sanity and your relationship with her). So, back I went.
On Monday, I went out with two of my oldest friends. One of them, I’ve known for nearly 30 years. We did what we always do when the three of us meet: we ate cake. And talked. All of us are in a sad place right now, some of us sadder than others. But as my oldest friend told me when we finally hugged goodbye: “We’re going to make it. We are. I can feel it.”
Tomorrow evening, Rosie and I will take off into the night sky. We will hang in the air, as the earth turns beneath us, winging our way through time. And when we wake up, we will be in London. Back home. Just the two of us.
The work will really begin then. My bags will be unpacked. My lists will be transcribed from memory to paper. And things will change.
- Brakes on, still falling (marriedtoalcoholic.wordpress.com)