First morning in the new flat. So far I’ve learned the walls & ceiling are very thin, the pipes bang, and I am a little freaked out by the spare room that’s locked. What if someone’s secretly living there like that girl who was living under someone’s wardrobe? Still so much to do–shoulders sore from lugging stuff. Plus had to go on a Sheets Quest to buy new ones that fit and make sure I could make my bed! And the estate agents didn’t fix any of the stuff they said they would, which they used as a reason for not letting me move in early when I asked. But honestly it didn’t go too badly. Better get up & going.
Final day. 12 hours from now I should be enjoying dinner with Daphne before heading to the overnight train. My mind is swirling with what-ifs. But I just have to trust all will be well. The house has that empty echoey feeling of not being lived-in–it’s not my place any more! Just a little last-day packing & cleaning and that’s it. What of the wider world? A few days ago the supreme court of Kentucky refused to indict Breonna Taylor’s shooters for her death. I sent £500 to the Louisville community bail fund and the Louisville mutual aid fund. Dad’s Biden lawn sign got knocked over so he put it up again with rebar. Cases continue to rocket up here in the UK, with university dorms particularly hard hit & very little support for these young barely-adults. Awful. Right now everyone in England and Wales is being smug about Scotland’s failings but it’s only a matter of time before a similar situation elsewhere–though an optimist might say they would learn the lessons of the other unis & do better. An optimist. Better get moving.
New laws announced to prevent more than 6 people congregating except in specific situations. Case numbers continuing to rocket up: government of course blaming people’s “selfishness” for having gatherings at their houses rather than, say, the huge push to kickstart the economy with the ‘eat out to help out’ scheme, the ‘visit London’ and ‘visit Scotland’ campaigns, & reopening schools & offices. No, of course the coronavirus isn’t transmitting in any of those settings, it’s only at private gatherings where people are being selfish. Utter, utter madness. I’m tired and scared and overwhelmed. I want a break.
Emotional day all around: I got word on Tuesday night that my beloved Arabic teacher had passed away. Yesterday I forwarded the note to a few Simon’s Rock folks–classmates or other teachers I keep in touch with. He had lived a long life and touched the lives of so many students–he was and is so beloved. I am sad, but I feel lucky to have known him. I don’t often feel lonely even in these strange times because I have a strong community around the world, but yesterday I felt sad that there was no collective conversation I could join. I missed being with people who knew him and knew how wonderful he was.
Full moon last night. Stayed up to watch it emerge from some persistently slow moving storm clouds just before 11. Went for a late walk after the conference and all the mudlarks were out combing the shore with headlamps. Full moon low tide must draw them. I was upset when I tried to see the moon and it was behind the clouds: I didn’t want to sit up too long because of this stupid early meeting for a client and I was feeling very resentful of work’s intrusion into my life, my natural inclination to want to watch the moon, resentful of the intrusion of this early start and these stretched out days and my stuff getting spiked and our work getting mangled. Everything feels like a big black cloud between me and my real goals for myself. I feel obscured–it feels obscured from me by all this STUFF. But then I thought, the moon is still there–the cloud can’t take that away. And I did sit up for a bit and wait for the cloud to pass. And then I felt better.
Work finally confirmed I can move anywhere in the UK without trouble from HR. Now the option is truly unfettered on the table do I really want to move to Edinburgh? Am I ready for a change of that magnitude? I don’t know, I don’t know. I always thought when I left London I’d take the time to do and see all the things I keep saying I’ll get round to and never do, lots of goodbye parties, visits to obscure museums, etc. But this would be me sneaking out like a thief in the night. Do I really want to move or am I just running away? I really won’t miss the Tube. Or planes, helicopters, and the Highway behind my bedroom. The coal-black dust that seeps in at the windows. But there are plenty of things I will miss: my friends. The light in this flat. My bigger-than-normal fridge. The view of Shadwell Basin. My hammock. Bookshelves.
If I only have 18 or 20 years left on the planet and they look different to now, how will I live my life differently (if at all?) Mostly what I feel is that I miss the sea: exploring the Thames at low tide has reacquainted me with those missed rhythms. But it’s not the same.
Yesterday the heat wave continued, with predictable results on the Shadwell Basin crowd. A sudden downpour around 7 PM scattered many of them, leaving a relatively quiet evening. Though the fishermen were being rather rowdy as far as they go. Pelican Stairs deserted for a change though I did go later than usual. Night: a dangerous time to be skulking down a dark alley towards slippery riverside steps? Maybe the danger is part of why I like it. But I admit the two extremely drunk men with a bulldog, unable to walk in a straight line, earlier on my walk gave me pause for thought: what if they’d been at the mouth of the alley when I emerged? There is no way out. You could get trapped down there. But who wants to live their life believing everyone’s after them?
Yesterday had a kerfuffle as heard a man in Shadwell basin yelling for help–he was in one of the orange dinghies from the sailing club and I thought I saw a black line dangling over into the water–I thought somebody might be in distress under the water. I called an ambulance and we all rushed towards the scene but by the time I got there nobody was on the water anymore. I found the ambulance and we started to look for the boat but then one of the other ambulance staff flagged us down and said a man had caught a fishhook in his hand and now everything was fine, he’d put the boat away. Meanwhile: two fire trucks had arrived and police were making a running circuit of the basin looking for trouble…I sidled off home. I was embarrassed to have caused such fuss but it was too far away to see and there have been so, so many drownings and injuries in the basin… better safe than sorry.
Yesterday was hot–Shadwell Basin collected its usual round of swimmers. Tower Hamlets Police have been more active patrolling the pathways and telling off swimmers and barbecue people but they can’t stop the inevitable tide of summer. I keep cooking and cooking to feel a sense of control and accomplishment but I can’t eat everything I make–it’s too much. Need better balance. How will I find it?