Have you ever seen a discarded note or letter on the pavement and wanted to pick it up? I did yesterday, and it seemed like a physical confirmation of my voice reaching all the way round the world and back to me.
The night before last, just before I went to bed, I had some words in my head that I wanted to remember, so I went into M’s office and ripped a purple sheet of paper out of a random notebook, scribbled the words down, and took the paper into our bedroom and put it onto the shelves next to my bed where my vinyl records still live, for now. The next morning, I took the sheet of paper, folded it up, and stuck it into the back pocket of my jeans. And totally forgot about it, of course. Then, after work, I decided I’d walk to the hypermarket and back as my exercise, and because I didn’t want to waste petrol driving a mile and a half there and a mile and a half back just to get bread and beer and cheese. 19 minutes there at a brisk pace, into a shop full of people with no masks and no sense of social distancing, resisting the temptation to browse for something I didn’t need anyway, past parents refusing to listen to their children’s reasonable requests, past new couples going shopping together for the first time, past exhausted looking women doing the shopping at the end of their already too busy days. Basket full, I checked out, carefully packed everything that I’d bought into the rucksack that had accompanied me to the Antarctic in 2008 (it always comes back to the Ice, doesn’t it, my life?), rucksack over shoulders, that comforting weight on my back, somehow making me and my life more solid, back outside, mask off, gloves in left hand, right hand to start the stop watch again, and the walk back home, the sun now low behind the houses and the shadows colder than I expected. Fifteen minutes later, I turn back into our road, the last hill ahead of me. My eyes are distracted by a flicker of colour on the ground to my left, caught behind a green electrical junction box. No, I say to myself, don’t pick it up; you’ll be intruding on someone else’s life. And then I recognise the colour, and the slant of the writing on the colour. It’s the note I wrote the night before. It must have fallen out of my jeans when I set out for my shopping. And the wind hadn’t blown it away. Or maybe it had blown it all the way around the world in 30 short minutes. My words come back to haunt me. My words come back to taunt me. I’d better turn them into something useful now.
AGGIE’S ART OF HAPPINESS – CHAPTER 26
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