Much as I look forward to it, I’m always a bit bothered when school starts again. All those people moving on, experiencing new things, learning about life and themselves. This is my ninth September staying in bed- I was off work, still expecting go back in a week or two, when Girl2 started nursery school. We have all changed since then, but I’m still in my pyjamas.
With nobody in the house, I finally have the space to deal with the random bits of paper that have gathered up during the summer. I’ve discovered the things I forgot to do, or didn’t finish. I haven’t yet found anything I did brilliantly and forgot about. There are no pleasant surprises hidden in the paperwork.
Jake is lying in the sun, sleeping. He follows me about, finding a comfy spot close to hand. He has a lot of sleeping to catch up on, making the most of long days with nobody dancing around him, or posing him for ‘selfies’, or trying to get him to play. Peace for an old grumpy dog. But last night, he had me in tears on the street. Sobbing on Sunnyside Street. Another dog, a short lead, a sniff, a wag and- in a heartbeat- each dog going for the other’s throat.
I was defeated. What sort of fool was I anyway, if I couldn’t even walk the dog without a crisis? Anxiety and doubt were overwhelming.
I’d spent the morning filling in an application for a training course- what a laugh. What made me think I could be a ‘leader’ or an ‘influencer’ when I could hardly leave the house? How could I persuade the GP to medicate me heavily when he knew I gave presentations to big wigs? I’d seen him there; he’s related to a big wig. I’d pretended well that day, but the truth will out. I was weeping in public because one grumpy dog met another, and it was all my fault. Everything was my fault.
I couldn’t go to bed and huff- Spurs Fan had to go to a meeting and somebody needed to be a grown up. It was time to hide in a book.
Dawnriser raved about H is for Hawk; I’d never heard of it, but read a few other reviews and bought it. I’d looked at it on the shelf and wondered what was wrong with my head. I know nothing about birds. I don’t even want to know anything about birds. Yes, I know something of grief, but we all do. I’d bought a hardback book about a blimmin’ bird and I was never ever going to read it.
But last night I needed to be distracted. I needed to be taken away from my own mind. That big bird book would do. This was its chance to captivate. If I were beaten, so be it. It was just that sort of day and I wasn’t going to feel any worse.
Five hours later I realised I’d need to sleep.
The book is sitting on the table in front of me now, calling to me, and I’m not opening it. I have things to do. I will do nothing else if I open the book.
I’m fascinated, involved, totally engrossed by the goshawk (never knew they existed) Mabel and her owner Helen, an academic and experienced falconer. Helen is struggling with death and grief; Mabel is a young bird, learning about living. “Her demeanour switches from everything scares me to I see it all; I own all this and more.” I went to bed after a key moment- “A baby hawk that’s just worked out who she is. What she’s for.”
I’m unlikely to experience a late blooming of interest in birds of prey, but my faith in the power of a well told story is reinforced. Today I feel like an addict, working out how long I hold off until I get back to it. How long will the mundane messages take? Maybe I could finish the book first? Or just read a chapter? (Not even fooling myself with that one.)
So, there it is. The solution to being left behind, shrouded in brain fog and too anxious to leave the house. The solution to my just about everything.
A good story, well told.
Read a book. Always. Read a book.