So it’s true, then.
Time really does accelerate as you enter the latter decades of your life. Standing here, on the other side of grief and trauma, I’m sucked deeper and faster into the mundane: a relentless flush down a very slick s-bend.
I’ve cleared the best years of my life: so many reels of film flickering in the darkness: Travel to faraway places, sharing rooms with strangers, clubbing until 4am, talking passionately about literature, believing I would make it one day, falling in love, having my heart broken, moving across an ocean in search of a new life, falling in love again (for real) and having my heart broken again (for good). Becoming a mother: clearing the stage for a new performer, now sitting patiently in the stalls, applauding and encouraging and critiquing.
But all the while the ceaseless pull of gravity plunges me further down this endless chute. My weeks, measured out in meetings and manic writing, are bookended by vacuuming, dusting, groceries and cooking. Scattered within the drudgery are moments of delight: playing lego with Rosie, colouring with her, chatting to her, singing with her.
Never the right moment
Somehow, until this moment, there has never been the right moment to come back here. Ben is still clean – for now. He started working recently, but given the demands it places on him (he has worked every day since he got this new job, with exactly 1 day off in the last six weeks) it is far, far from ideal.
We are both exhausted. Too exhausted to throw our arms out and slow the fall.
But see? We are alive. We are coping. We have emerged from the other side of addiction: he, no longer drinking (for now, always for now). And me, only occasionally suspicious. Old anxieties are replaced by new ones (he’s not taking care of himself, he smokes too much, what if he drops dead suddenly, leaving me to do EVERYTHING). Then I remember I’m doing virtually everything now anyway, so that this, too, becomes a bearable scenario, until I realise that losing Ben would lay waste to Rosie body and soul. And so the anxieties whirl up like a tempest of autumn leaves, swarming and dissipating with the wind.
Signs of life
And in those minutes and hours of dissipation, something flickers within. A waking up – a sudden need to fly off to another city, drop cash on designer wear, get a tattoo. Classic mid-life crisis material.
I understand the allure of it, the desperate last stand against age, against the loss of everything that I was before the drudgery set in. There is no shame in this.
I will commune with my past, accept it, embrace it. Resurrect my youthful spirit so that it may carry me through the next half of my life – the one that will spin ever faster, until I look up one day and find that Rosie isn’t here any more. That she has taken off down that path of travel and intrigue that I once knew. And I will sit with my old self, and re-establish old lines. And we will be friends.