Some nights, I lie tired but sleepless in my bed, listening to the racket the frogs are making in the nearby pond. Other nights, the frogs are quiet, but my longing speaks instead. It got stronger since there’s been talk of gradually re-opening our locked-down world. I’m longing to visit places. To see, touch, hug people. To try new stuff, have an adventure. Technology – life-saving as it has been in keeping us connected and productive – is a poor substitute for real human connection…
As I’m caring for a vulnerable person, I doubt I’ll be out much more when we re-open. And social distancing will of course remain in place. Adventures, for now, have to remain in the realm of longing, of dreaming.
It’s the end of my sixth lockdown week. My hair was chin-length when I arrived. Now, with hairdressers out of action everywhere, I can tie it up with a ribbon at the back of my head. After years of snappy, short hairstyles, that’s a new sensation for me. I’m enjoying it!
I’m sitting on the balcony at sundown, watching the night slowly spread its wings over the end of this day. The air smells fresh and clean; it has a soothing coolness and humidity about it that I soak up greedily after the unseasonal heat of the day.
The darkness hugs me like the black silk evening dress I bought when I lived in Spain, years ago, when adventures weren’t confined to the realm of longing and dreaming. I wore it to dance on a roof-top patio in Granada, under the stars, with a man I’d only just met, amidst the black silhouettes of freshly watered pot plants. The velvety night smelled of wet earth and terracotta. That innocent romance was a gift then; the memory of it is a gift now.
In the inky sky I can just about make out the clouds that will, tomorrow, break the summery sunshine, billowing like the black sails of a pirate ship.
Beyond them, Sirius appears – brightest star in the heavens. Old friend, he’s always there first. Bigger, hotter, more luminous than the sun, and much, much, much further away. Unimaginable, how far, how long its light travels, until it reaches me, sparkling, glaring from the beginning of the night.
Underneath, the sports ground behind my mother’s home lies dark and empty, resting, framed by a row of street lights – earthly stars of a softer, paler, much less far-reaching glow.
Across the valley, the glittering pins of lit-up houses adorn the black pin-cushion hills. I can trace the shape of the villages by the light from their houses. Between villages, where it’s dark, the woods are sleeping.
And my longing?
It’s there. I allow myself to feel it. Mostly in the quiet of the night, when my chores are done, when my conversations are over, and when my mother, who keeps me company in these lockdown days, is asleep. It has its own beautiful quality, this longing: a gentle yet insistent tug at my heart; a floaty dreaminess enveloping my soul; a vague notion of something beautiful but undefinable that, for now, lives behind a veil.
My longing suits the night time. Or perhaps the night time suits my longing?
In the daytime, there are tasks for me to complete, to keep our household going, to support (and be with) my mum. I like the tasks; they keep me grounded and sane. Styling my mum’s hair is a new skill I’ve had to learn in this pandemic, since the hairdressers have stayed home. I’ve become quite good with rollers. My mum’s hairdresser will be proud of me when she comes back next week!
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Photo: Monica Castenetto