Post-lockdown Dispatches: Week One

Wrapped in my Mom’s love

The season is changing, the house is cooling down, as is the water in the pool. But the days are still sunny and warm, and if I sit in the sun for a while after lunch, I can jump into the pool and enjoy an icy swim before the rest of the work day unfolds. I try to do it daily, because my walking routine refuses to return to normal and I do need the movement.

I am enjoying the return to group activities even if many people are ignoring the mask and numbers rules. My love and I went to the theatre again – the magical Firefly, which captures the essence of stage magic, at the Baxter; we went to FYN for another birthday celebration and realised that by pure chance this was the last restaurant we went to before lockdown, and the first after; I attended a highly successful book launch – Liz McGregor’s Unforgiven at Wordsworth Sea Point – and had dinner with authors and friends afterwards; on Saturday, I was at the first post-lockdown Women Zone CT Book Club meeting; and I was invited to a 70th birthday party, where the person celebrating is connected to me in strange, literary ways, and even though we hardly know each other, we are literary family. I registered for one online event: the Tongues Book Club with Alexander Matthews and Alistair Mackay. It was great, but I hope live versions of the gatherings will follow. And I can’t wait to read It Doesn’t Have to Be this Way. (Indeed, it doesn’t.)

Work has continued, but in a vague manner. I stare more than I write or edit. My thoughts have been elsewhere since my Mom walked herself into an emergency room because she thought that she was having a heart attack (she wasn’t, but the symptoms were similar and she was frightened for her life) and has been in the hospital ever since. She is stable and there is no threat to her life, but the doctors are still doing more tests to determine what had happened. We message a lot and meet on Skype during visiting hours when it is all right to talk. These are the moments when I hate living ten thousands kilometres away from her.

The only thing I am truly enjoying right now is reading. I have started Finuala Dowling’s The Man Who Loved Crocodile Tamers and am simply loving it.

Think a peaceful writerly thought, I told myself. I imagined that I was a medieval woman who had chosen to enter a convent, taking her fortune with her. The simple yet comfortable room I’d have, the silence. No phone. No email. I could write a book without interruptions, except for occasional prayers I suppose. Constant kneeling would be a drawback. On the plus side, if someone wanted to complain, they’d have a long ride to Rupertsberg. And even if they got there, I’m sure there’d be a drawbridge. A home improvement every writer should invest in. Could I order boiling oil to be poured over an approaching complainant? No, an abbess shouldn’t do that. Hildegard, Hildegard, watch over me.

The Man Who Loved Crocodile Tamers

I am working on my drawbridge.

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