OYSTERHOOD is reclusiveness or solitude, or an overwhelming desire to stay at home.
Yesterday evening, for the first time in weeks, I returned to my bedroom, to my bed, for the night. I fell asleep without the white noise of the TV, and although I surfaced quite a few times during the night, it was never long enough to consider returning to my lockdown bed in front of the TV. Before the lockdown, I’d slept on the sofa in my lounge for the same reasons: the TV is my sleeping pill, my night guardian. It watches over me. The last time I slept in my own bed was when my love stayed over and kept insomnia and anxiety at bay just before the lockdown. Now, it is just me and the night, and the lockdown bed and vivid nightmares/dreams, but last night I decided to put on my big girl attitude and braved the darkness and silence with only Salieri by my side. (Mozart continues sleeping under the bed, and Glinka likes her red blanket nest on the sofa in the lounge.)
And we did it. I did it! I spent the entire night in my own bed.
One of my neighbours’ alarm went off just after 6am and woke me up. I made coffee, tuned in to Wild Earth and watched wild dogs and hyenas and spiders again. The author Nechama Brodie thinks of “spiders as patron tiny goddesses of writers”. I love that idea, because I have always felt very comfortable around them, Miss Havisham-style.
Monday. The traffic volume surprised me when I took out the bin and stood outside the property, listening.
Salieri and I continued our morning in bed with a new book (only the second non-local title of the lockdown, but somehow connected to local literature, because I first discovered the author at the Open Book Festival and have been a fan ever since). More coffee.
Then some Monday chores and a plate-licking bacon and egg breakfast on the stoep, watching the rain.
Eventually, I sat down at my desktop computer to tackle the emails which have accumulated over the weekend and ordered Book Lounge vouchers for a friend (birthday) and for myself (I want Sifiso Mzobe’s Searching for Simphiwe and can’t wait to read the short story collection). By the time I looked up from my merciless screen, it was time for lunch (the last of my Doorstep Dairyman pies).
My garage door screeched blue murder when I last opened it, so I oiled the contraption and realised that if you don’t use mechanisms regularly, they rusts and suffer. And even though I was very pleased that my insurance company has reduced my premiums on car insurance by 15% because I am not driving Topolino as often as usual now, I know that not driving a car is not good for it. So, today, I decided to go on a short neighbourhood drive just to stretch Topolino’s wheels. It seemed obvious that the best time to do it would be during CapeTalk’s Afternoon Drive show with John Maytham. I never got out of the car, and I kept very close to home, so as not to get into trouble – I know I technically broke the regulations, but the regulations are in place to stop the spread of Covid-19. I did not spread anything, I promise. And if law enforcement officers are reading my blog, please be kind to me and go after the people stealing food parcels and vandalising schools (thank you). Topolino and I did a few loops around the neighbourhood and felt refreshed afterwards. It was a completely different experience to the shopping centre outing last Tuesday. No apprehension, no despair after the excursion this time. We even got to enjoy the views. I don’t have to and don’t want to go shopping until the end of the lockdown, so I can’t use the shop as an excuse to drive the car and keep it oiled and running smoothly.
Admin, and a few more emails in the late afternoon, dinner, and now it is almost time for bed again.
Worried about the pandemic, Nurse Salieri decided to do her own test of her human’s state of health today. The Cats usually do their toilet business in the garden. I keep a litter box for them in the house that stays clean for long periods of time. Rain is the one element that sometimes drives the Cats indoors. Salieri decided to use today’s rain as opportunity to see whether my sense of smell was intact and went to the litter box… I can assure you, and her, that I can still smell things. All too well in some cases.
But I’d rather delight in the smell of coffee in the morning and in the scent of my lemon tree blossoms.
I don’t delight in my sore cheeks at the end of the day and the anxiety that causes the pain. But I am trying to reclaim a sense of balance and to keep sane in this time of sheer insecurity and uncertainty. I know what will make everything better, what will keep me balanced and sane and make meaning out of chaos, but it involves selfishness and self-care and knowing how to say ‘no’ to others; it involves making space and committing and giving in to a longing that never leaves me, but I have managed to put it on the back-burner and to prioritise and nourish others for many months now, and it’s not easy to find the right path. But now, I need to return to my inner self to survive, and thrive beyond bare survival. And to be unapologetic about it. I am almost there…
Megan Ross, author (Milk Fever, among other excellent writing) and designer (cover and typesetting of Melissa A. Volker’s Karavan Press books) whose work I adore wrote on Twitter today: