When I took the Heathrow Express to the airport, heading to Edinburgh and then south to the Northumberland trail run, it has already started.
A woman sat down in the seat beside me wearing a face mask. And I wondered if she was protecting herself or protecting me. I wondered if she was being paranoid, or considerate.
We didn’t make eye contact during the 45 minute trip ( – counting delays – I counted them by my inhalations). Which – considering there would be no way of knowing if she were offering a friendly smile – was probably for the best.
In Bramburgh, in the cold wind, 400 hundred or so of us were crammed inside make-shift tents, all wearing wristbands with sensors, sporting numbers pinned to our jackets or our tights. Dancing in place – a little to keep warm, a little to distract ourselves from the concern that the lines for the toilets at this last minute might be too long.
The next day I booked massages for the two of us at a spa in Edinburgh. Then I wondered if I should cancel the booking for the massages at the spa in Edinburgh. Wondered if E. would think I was silly for considering it.
We got back to Norway 2 days before the line was drawn on the calendar to mark quarantine for those who’d travelled to Italy and Austria during winter vacation. Still, I took my temperature every morning before going to school – figuring international airports are, well, international.
It seems like thing change suddenly, but the world creeps. It is our noticing that is sudden.
The last ten years I’ve had an itch for a kayak. I have this romantic idea of my own slow, steady effort – while watching the birds nesting in the reeds.
I could take it all in – observing every little change during every long hour – during the days – the weeks. Not to document it, but to experience it.
Life doesn’t need to be exhilarating. I want to crawl in from under, away from all the chatter – and listen for the background noise. Just floating, attentive to the rise and fall of the water in a tiny lake. The sunlight glowing through my eyelids when I tilt my head up in the breeze.
The thing is, I know very well that I don’t have the balance required for that kind of solitude.