I spent part of last week’s trip to Melbourne roaming the city streets alone. I was not lonely; I enjoyed the solitude. I felt, as I walked, solid, curious and aware.
Melbourne was practice for next year’s trip to Europe. Dare I walk the streets of Paris alone? Dare I broach Rome? Time will tell.
The anxiety I have lately suffered dissolved, for a time, in Melbourne. I was obliged by my lack of acquaintance with the city to draw on my strength and renew my frayed resilience. People say that will happen when you step outside your comfort zone, but I wasn’t really that far out of it. I was where the populace spoke my language; the traffic codes, the food, the images were all culturally familiar.
Did I feel strong because I had only myself to depend on, because I had no one else to consider, because the only needs I had to meet were my own?
When my companion joined me I saw Melbourne from another person’s perspective. I walked now familiar streets overlaid with stories of his past. I listened and I enjoyed, but there were moments when I regretted my lost solitude.
Strength is found when you walk, look, listen and when you share.
Our idea of bliss changes. What we once thought of as heavenly can become an embarrassment. The pop group from your teens, the dish you used to prepare (in my case cheese fondue) that you’d turn up your nose at now. Other things remain in your personal library of bliss; a beautiful sunset, holding your first-born in your arms, even though he’s too tall to cradle anymore and you must be content with a hug.
Then there’s the bliss you could never imagine but cannot now do without; the delight that comes from hearing the doorbell ring and knowing your granddaughter has arrived. There’s also the bittersweet bliss of greeting your children from interstate and luxuriating in their smiles despite knowing they’ll leave again in a few days. Photographs fail to capture such moments, which makes today’s #developingyoureye task difficult for me.
What, apart from being with my loved ones, represents bliss? What do I experience that brings me bliss?
Every afternoon at three my partner and I have afternoon tea. One of us will make Chai, and we often have a piece of cake or a biscuit. Occasionally, though, I’ll indulge a blissfully rich hot chocolate with marshmallows. When I feel the need to raise the bliss a notch or two I’ll serve it in a robustly colourful Mason’s ‘Regency’ cup and saucer.
It belonged to my mother and I believe it was her mother’s. There are, as you can see from the photograph below, two such cups and their saucers, but the pink one has a fine crack in it so I only drink from the blue one.
I don’t remember my grandparents using them, but when I take my first sip of chocolate I wonder if they took tea in the afternoon, sitting together in their kitchen, drinking from cups brought from the ‘Old Country.’
My grandfather was from Wales and my grandmother was a Glaswegian. A visit to their home when I was a child was an experience in accents, a concert of emphases, stresses and inflections that delighted the ear even as it sometimes confused the child.
When I hear a soft female Scottish voice I remember my grandmother Bell’s beautiful smile that, more often than not, quickly evolved into rich laughter.
Elixir: a magical or medicinal potion. From Arabic and Greek, meaning ‘a powder to dry wounds’ or a magical substance that changes metal to gold.
Over the last six weeks I’ve thought a lot about this blog and the direction I want it to take. I am tired of being serious; I want to play more, explore more, take more risks. What will it feel like to write from the heart?
I spent time with my writing buddy this afternoon. I drank hot chocolate and ate a chocolate almond cake; she had a cappuccino and nothing to eat. We laughed. A lot. We talked about her forthcoming book of poems and my plan to enter at least two short story competitions a month. I told her I want to try writing more prose poems. She told me about her new bathroom.
Friendships are the powder we sprinkle on our wounds. Laughter is a potion that shines golden light on an afternoon in a café. Writing is a restorative. When I started this blog I had firm ideas about what I wanted to do; now I’m not so sure. To re-name is to change how a person or thing is known.
The other day I had an appointment with the Department of Human Services, Australia’s federal agency for the aged, job seekers, families, migrants and refugees, and people with a disability. Despite having availed myself of their services several years ago, and retaining the same ‘reference number’ (aka an identity number), when I reregistered with them I had to supply three separate documents as proof of my identity. At the end of the process I laughed and said, ‘And now I am a person?’ The woman on the other side of the counter smiled. ‘Congratulations,’ she said, ‘you exist.’