Today has been the sweetest of Sundays. Even though I am so, so lucky, and have two-day weekends now, Sunday stands apart, special and somehow different to every other day of the week. I feel like I have been holding my breath, subconsciously for the past few weeks. I have been busy at work, poor Carl has been busier. He comes home, he eats, he sits up working, and then gets up early to go back into the office. I work until sometimes I feel like Alice falling down the rabbit hole. It will pass, it will pass, and in a few weeks our lives should be a little quieter.
But for now, I have been feeling like a string being pulled more and more taught. Never enough time. Never enough energy. Too tired, just too tired to do anything at all. It came to a head, more or less, on Friday. I love having friends to visit, and I had two of the girls dearest to me come for a meeting about a secret project, and dinner. But oh, although it was lovely to see them, and they are the least judgemental people in the world, I didn’t feel equal to it. I had picked up our vacuum cleaner a few weeks ago, and mysteriously, water came pouring out of it. Needless to say I couldn’t use it, but we hadn’t had time to buy a new one. I had been bone tired the night before and not washed up. I had meant to come home early and wash up before they arrived, but I ended up having to stay late at work instead. Our forks are somehow disappearing – I have no idea how, or why. Perhaps it is because I have been reading The Little Stranger for book club, but I suddenly decided that perhaps some malevolent force had taken them. After the girls went home, although it had been wonderful to see them, I just felt I should have offered them more. A cleaner home to welcome them into. My judgement, not theirs. Carl was working in the bedroom, and I lay beside him at about half past nine, and just cried. I cried because I was tired, because the floor needed hoovering, because the forks were disappearing, because I still don’t have a permanent contract and am halfway through my secondment, because there is so much I want to do and so little time to do it in…I was worn to a ravelling, and cried.
I woke up the next morning, fully dressed. I had cried, Carl had held me, and I had almost passed out into a sleep deep and black. And when I woke up, I felt like I was suddenly breathing clean, fresh air for the first time in ages. I got up, put my hair up, some music on, and did all the washing up. I turned out a kitchen cupboard. Today, we bought a new vacuum cleaner, and oh, how I love it! We got it reduced from £129.99 to £59.99 and I suddenly realised how our elderly vacuum cleaner had been struggling. The carpets look fantastic. Relief, relief at finally getting that job done.
Walking into town, hand in hand, through the park. The air fresh and light and clean in our lungs, and carried on the breeze, the church bells ringing. Sitting knee to knee eating scrambled eggs and bacon for breakfast. Smiling, time together, no work. Falling in love with my husband all over again for the millionth time, from the way he smiled at me over his latte cup. Picking up our little bits of shopping, and the aforementioned new vacuum cleaner. Throwing open all the windows. A load of washing whirling in the machine while I hummed along to ‘I’m A Woman’ by Peggy Lee, and turned out the freezer, thoroughly.
Turning out the freezer was actually really liberating. Another source of relief. Realising I have not been using it in the best way. We have never been ones to have a freezer full of ready meals – I have bread in it, vegetables, meat, fish, fruit, and portions of soups, stews, and the likes that I have made double portions of. Only I realised that I have been using it like a security blanket. I have several packets of chicken breast strips that I bought when they were on ‘buy two for..’ offers and also reduced because it was the day of their sell-by date. And somehow have never used them, because by having them in the freezer, it feels like I have ‘plenty’. A strange way of thinking, and I am not sure I am pinning it to the page as I mean to, but stripping it away, hoarding packets of almost-out-of-date chicken isn’t really the best idea. Then I turned my attention to the bags and plastic tubs of unidentified veggie curries and soups and things that I have made at unspecified dates, and realised how many have freezer burn and how many I have no idea how old they are.
So, I took a deep breath and decided it is time to let go. Let go of everything that isn’t going to nourish us. Five or six bags of bread with just the heel ends, freezer burned and dry, but held on to ‘just in case’. The chicken from May that I have taken out, catalogued, and put back in, time and time again. The freezer is emptier now, but somehow I feel like I have got more. Everything in there I can identify, know what it is and how old it is. And again, the feeling of relief.
The other night, Carl said he wouldn’t mind if we had more takeaways over the next few weeks because as much as he is working hard he knows I am too, and I am picking up the cooking and cleaning and running of the household, and he thought that might give me a break. I thought that was so lovely and thoughtful, but also, while I love an occasional treat, I don’t want to turn to takeaways out of a lack of time. They are after all expensive, not as good for you as a home cooked meal, and a treat loses its allure when it is a stop-gap replacement. Now I have turned out the fridge, the freezer and the food cupboards, I feel ready to start from scratch again with a weekly menu plan and grocery delivery order. No more picking up things on my way home from work. And part of me feels so pleased that it is so easy to start over. But part of me feels frustrated at starting over again, going back to form a habit that I used to do all the time. Starting again, starting over, a relief and a slight vexation all at the same time.
I really didn’t mean this post to be so long. Perhaps another thing I need to start over is posting here, little and often rather than nothing for ages and then a long stream, trying to order my thoughts and letting off steam. Trying to make sense of it all. Being so relieved, suddenly. There are so many other things that I sat down to write about tonight. About Shrove Tuesday and Valentine’s Day, and Chinese New Year. My new dress. So many little things. But they will wait. I feel the first stirrings of spring, and it feels so good. It feels like it has been a long winter, both in reality, and metaphorically. The first stirrings of spring are welcome indeed.