Dear Di,

I want a knight just like the one in your photo. I would put him in the corner of my bibliotekette, and on cold mornings like today I would glance over and think of you, and I would remember what it’s like to sit and write in the heat of sunshine. I’d remember then the warmth of metal, and the monkey bars on a playground in Las Vegas so many years ago. I’d be reminded on how small and beautifully varied the world is – and how there is no such thing as the perfect place. But there are perfect moments.

I have yogaed, and walked Kiri around the block this morning. It’s still dark. Tapering for the half-marathon on Saturday, so no run. But the space heater is blowing on my ankles, the rosemary oil burning on the desk, and I keep to my rituals. They stitch me into the days.

You write about finding a tribe. Isn’t that what everyone says these days? All the gurus? “Find your tribe.” I have come to realise I’m just not a tribe kind of person. Or, perhaps, like you, my tribe is nothing more than a loose assemblage chosen from among the dead. Certainly there is D.L.D., to whom I still write after all these years. I believe I’ve talked about my necromancy before.

This year I stopped trying to do things accord to form.

 

 

 

How the days bump into each other in these dark months. I experience a touch of concern each morning when I try to grasp the day of the week, the day’s plans. Is this normal?

The asphalt safe when it glitters under the street lamps. And unpredictable when it is as black and matte as spilled ink. I strap the metal coils to my running shoes and try to trust their grip. I silently beg the dog not to pull as we head out of the driveway, where the plough has shoved fresh snow over frozen rain.

The grass is ice-stiffened from last week’s rain. And covered with snow. Walking on it, I sink – deliciously – with each step. A cellofane-covered mattress. Weirdly, sensually satisfying.

Again then: this touch of concern. Am I normal?

I laugh at the hare’s tracks that look like adolescent-obscene graffiti. And the dog buries his snout under them, winding himself up like one of those flipping toy puppies on display at a toy store in a mall oh-way-back-when, somewhere.

Yap. Yap. Yap.

How it all rises and falls in consciousness to take us by surprise: the weaving of time-traveling moments that make up our present.

 

Maybe the moon and the stars want to take us by surprise. It’s that simple.

I broke my own rules this morning to read the news headlines, and to learn what the scientists can predict. Posted at ten thirty p.m.: Tomorrow morning will bring the chance of a lifetime.

So I am up and out the door. But the blood moon has rolled over and pulled the thin blanket of clouds with it. The sky reflects a sickly orange spill from the green houses in Bore.

I feel that I’ve written that sentence before. I’ve written about how we impose on the world.

But still, this morning was once in a lifetime.

Sporadic hail through the tree branches.
The dog tugging the lead,
still unlearning to hunt. 

 

 

 

I haven’t run in 5 days. Last Monday I felt flat, and I felt the fear rise.

The last time I felt this lifeless just 2 kilometers into a run, I had a blood clot in my pelvis and spent two weeks in the hospital.

I couldn’t get to sleep on Monday night. I lay awake, wondering if every twinge was a symptom. If I should go in and have yet another dimer test. If this time were a heart attack.

“If I should die before I wake.”

My mother/grandmother had picked the harsher of the two versions of the bedtime prayer and it rises like an ear worm from a deep layer of memory.

“We will, we will. Rock you.”

My life doesn’t flash before my eyes, it seeps in with a thick stew of awkward emotions.

I finally sleep in the early morning hours and dream that my children are wading through my filthy house and can’t get the mud off their shoes.

*

I notice the blue sky on Thursday because I called in sick and am only working a half-day.
*

A prescription for Vitamin D.
And a hot bath.

Finally a thin blanket of snow to brighten the morning. I run with metal coils strapped under my shoes, and a slight tension in my gut: the bridges can be icy under the powder, and the dog can dart suddenly between the trees. Everything is new again for him.

For me.

All things bright perhaps. But not necessarily easy.

The new year is always predictable with its forced variations on the routine: the end-of-term rush of student evaluations, early meetings and final rehearsals.

Piecing together a devised production is like designing a quilt using everyone’s talents. It’s a joy and a privilege, and a sometimes-overwhelming responsibility that keeps me awake nights.

January is never a good time for beginnings. It brings a crescendo of sorts, and it requires an effort to notice one’s footing. And to keep up.

In the dark I hear the rustle of wings in the treetops: on Wednesday, E. commented on the quiet, the crows having already flown north to start their day. Then the rustle again, and a call of a bird of prey. A hawk maybe? The dog doesn’t even look up, but keeps the steady pace of “Gå pent” on the morning run. We’ve discussed renaming him Pacer.

Stuck in traffic last week and late for work, I had time to look around and over the fields. Now brown and flooded in places – edged with ice, and mostly empty. A hawk was perched on a fence post right next to motorway. Still and beautiful in the sunrise, he was like an exclamation point highlighting the exceptional.

The serenity prayer hovered on the edge of my thoughts, like an echo of the image. The same hawk?

All this unease: let it be.

Seasons change.

The dog grazes his wet snout on my arm. He’s ready for a run.

 

 

Returning to work is always difficult after a stretch of quiet. It’s like surfacing suddenly in the white water of a familiar river. And often there are moments of doubt – of confused orientation – of not recognizing the mechanisms of my own limbs. It takes so much effort to push down again, to fight the buoyancy and the tendency to get carried away.

It takes effort to seek the stillness underneath it all, where time slows down and there is a full space between each heartbeat. Where I trust myself and am secure, all the while knowing that safety is an illusion. Where I feel the cold, deep currents moving around me and through me – and I am simultaneously less solid and more substantial.

*

I run in darkness now – either in the early mornings are after work. And I miss taking photos along the route. It isn’t the photos themselves, but the function of photography as a tool for noticing. Appreciating. Instead I listen: the rattle of the dog’s tag on the leash, our footfalls in an odd kind of syncopation, approaching bicycle tires on the gravel, the blackbird sweeping over the dead leaves.

I inhale attentively and try to put a kind of frame around the wet smells of the earth, the sharp smells of the rusting metal of the old train tracks.

*

On my way to work I pass the adult daycare center and through the window see a man and a woman dancing. She is maybe 30, and her enthusiasm heavy. His age is impossible to guess, his joy expressed only in a pinch between his left eye and the left corner of his mouth. She lifts his arms for him. I can’t hear what she is singing.

I feel a cold current moving with the wind.