Wednesday 18th October 10am
I am alone. Mornings are my writing time. Thelma has just left. I have a list of jobs and may be alone here for three nights. It is possible I will see no one. How will this be for me? I am not the bravest person in the world. I feel safer in a city where hurly burly and hubbub goes on around. There has been too much violence in my life for me to feel safe when alone and isolated, I always fear someone will be lurking, watching, someone wanting to do me harm. Noises startle me but I have a fear of going to find out what is happening.
I barely noticed the ferries first thing this morning, I glanced up and noted times but almost without interest, certainly not the protracted indulgence I have given them other mornings. I was contemplating more urgent matters, deciding whether to be brave enough to share my unformed website that houses my blog with the world. And I did.
Just before the agreed reasonable hour, I went downstairs and found myself discussing a list of jobs whilst trying to eat my cereal. I wondered if it might be like this, had suggested yesterday, that i might need an earlier start but Thelma was distracted and could not say.
Paulo and I go for our walk. There is a grey cloudy stillness with fine, misty spit. The sea is calm and in the loch the whoopers and mute swans respond to the calm and manage to share the same patch of water. I look at the shore and think the pebbles have either been replaced in the heavy seas of the past few days or my eyes have lied to me. Today, there are fewer round, red sandstone pebbles, fewer skimming pebbles, everything seems more ordinary, more even. I can no longer call this Skimming Pebble Beach.
It is likely that I may be alone for three days. Three days to clean fridges, empty and clean cupboards, scrub worktops and sinks, clean windows. Three days for me to absorb myself in my own writing world of emptyness yet abundance.
I begin with fridges and progress to cupboards. I am taken back to earlier clearings and cleanings, to my mother’s house after her stroke, cleaning and preparing it for her return, wanting it to be pleasant and easy for her and at the same time, easy and pleasant for us to visit.
As I clear, sort, discard and rearrange, so too I clear my mind of clutter. The kitchen becomes more ordered and my mind becomes more clear. A morning mail has now decreed with a certainty that I am not allowed to go in to work. It has been copied to my Line Manager, the Head of Social Care, the Deputy Principle, the Principle, two people in HR at Orkney Council and someone official with a .gov.uk email address.
This mail is followed by one from the Deputy Principle at the College suggesting I might like to pop in to see her tomorrow. I reply, apologising if I have unknowingly made any error but repeating that to the best of my knowledge I have done all that I have been asked. The forms have been lodged, I say they were with my medical forms and my medical forms are there. I suggest that perhaps the Universe is trying to tell us something and that perhaps it is time for us all to reconsider my position. I do not confirm whether or not I will ‘pop in’.
As I clear and clean, I become more certain that the job is not for me. The end has come sooner than even I imagined it might. I make plans to catch the last ferry of the day, 4.45pm to Mainland this evening and stay over at my colleague’s house. She will be the first to know that I am leaving.
How strange it feels to be without Wi-Fi or phone signal, unable to check messages or mail. I feel bereft but also a sense of peace. I am grateful that, until this evening, I have been living without difficulty connecting, even on Shapinsay. I am staying the night at Leslie’s house in St Margaret’s Hope, Mainland. She is kind, has taken my news well but was not altogether surprised. She would have been a good colleague but nevertheless will remain a friend. We had a fun evening, swimming at Scapa beach, food at the Nuek and music in the Reel. Accordion and fiddle players, rehearsing for the Wrigley and the Reel Festival concert on Friday. Thelma, on accordion, looked so relaxed, peaceful, pretty, it was good to see her absorbed and content.
I wake to the sound of silence but wake from, and still carry, a vivid dream. A dream of a big gathering, a warm and friendly woman, a man choreographing an event who, some time earlier had presented me with a token, an expression of his interest. I had thanked him for his gift but dismissed it. A dream about a journey with sudden rain. A dream of a surprise that grew from a bucket with a candle. A dream of time and companionship, where the long forgotten candle, quietly burning, suddenly begins to erupt into a mass of blossoming flowers. The candle in the bucket was the same gift the man had given me in a dream some months earlier. He was swarthy and strong, calm and warm, softly smiling. After the intensity and surprise of the blossoming bucket, my curiosity in him grew. We were journeying to a location where the party would go on, long into the night. I walked with the friendly woman, mentioned my curiosity about the man. She smiled, Yes, she said It should be an interesting evening, it is my house you are going to and that is Chris Drover, my brother. It made sense, they had similar skin and a similar warmth and friendliness. I considered his interest, I could do with a friend, I thought.
I nearly didn’t record this dream, I feel somehow embarrassed to share the explorations of my unconscious mind. Strange that I easily share some of the blackest moments of my life but am unsure about recording a tender dream. The man and the gift were not new, they come from a dream several months ago. I remember how he told me it wasn’t just a candle, urged my patience, said it would surprise me but I must wait and watch, let it grow. I remember being touched by his interest and attention but soon forgot him in the melee of my dream world. That he has returned and with the same gift, surprises me and I wonder its meaning.