Lately my world has been jagged at the edges. There has been alot going on. Not a day goes by without my yearning for the head-space to come here and write, but sometimes I arrive, late at night and aching, and cannot say a word.
I always know I'm not quite right when I start eating an increasingly eclectic mixture of food at ever-decreasing intervals. You know, chocolate followed by olives followed by baked beans and gherkins, with a cup of Horlicks thrown in for good measure.
London freed me. Anna-mouse and I took ourselves off there yesterday for an overnight stay. My nerves were jangly, and my head hurt. I dropped Running-Child-of-the-Many-Negatives with my Ma and headed out to meet a dear friend I rarely see in the middle of the day anymore.
In little more than an hour we drank marvellous Lattes, ate cubes of dark chocolate Torta, and had chats of much depth. I left him feeling lighter, less burdened, more blessed.
Then I ran around collecting little Valentine tokens and such like, delighting in the city's choice. An open air flower stall was selling perfect miniature roses in tiny silver buckets. My mother had courted just such a rose on her sixth-floor balcony for years, given to her by me many Valentines before. Recently it gave up the ghost, so I bought her another and they wrapped it for me in a flourish of red tissue paper.
I sat on a bench and wrote a love-note to the Bim on an understated card of much beauty made of cream parchment with two little cherubs serenading a little red heart. Got it into the post with minutes to spare. And it was then, caught on a traffic island on the Liverpool Road between my car and the post box, that London really began to play on me.
It was jazz. The city was jazz. Cranky and dissonant and beautiful by turns. It was orange neon and undipped headlights and crazy men driving to the tune in their heads. It was buzz and silence and the whoosh of a dirty, rain-filled puddle being smacked into by the Four-by-Fours.
I know this world, I thought. This is my familiar.
And the street was filled with faces of colour and the conversation in the air was intermittently international and I felt less alone than I do on a Tuesday afternoon in Kent Town.
I returned to Highgate, plunging into the bedtime rituals refreshed. When Anna-mouse was truly quiet, and we had supped late and well, my mother and I sat talking into the small hours, as has been our wont for many a year.
We ranged all over: the operation-to-be; the hospital; the management of pain. There is much to be said for the caretaking of detail in the face of the unknown.
And funny how healing is the flip-side of illness: we found ourselves mulling a difficult time in our past, discussing without rancour; apologising with love.
Later, I lay listening to London again as Anna-mouse slept, soundlessly for once, in the travel cot beside me. Being on the sixth floor, the flat has spectacular views south over to Greenwich and beyond.
It felt as if we were being held, high and safe, in the palm of the city's hand.