I stood in the kitchen surrounded by suitcases, cooler boxes, bags and piles of books and papers. “So this is it’” I thought, “me alone after fifty years of being someone’s something or other.”
Despite the cramp in my diaphragm that had persisted for the hours it took to get here, I had made a few decisions about how I was going to behave in my alone status. It is amazing to me that my mother, who was widowed at the age of 34, insisted on sitting down to a properly cooked lunch at a table that was correctly set with the willow pattern china and family silver every day.
She was quite right I now realise. It is important to set standards even alone in your house. So I had decided on two things: my bed would always be properly made and the dishes would be washed. Now this might not sound like much but for a woman brought up in Africa who since birth had servants to perform these menial functions, this was A Decision. Oh, and I also decided that I would eat properly and not degenerate into snacking and “junk fooding”. Lofty ideals indeed.
The next major decision was that I was going to take the week off. I was not going to get straight into writing, my purported reason for being here and alone, I was going to spend time with the Lord first of all, walk on the beach, read the books I needed to read as research for my novel, and generally chill as my younger son would say.
I had to get used to not being in a hurry, not pushing deadlines that were set by no one but myself, and most of all I had to find a place of peace and acceptance where I can live with myself and with those nearest and dearest to me if the creative genius that is in me is going to be released.
And so for the first time in as long as I could remember, I did not get everything unpacked within an hour of arriving. In fact some bags are still unpacked and it is fine.
I took time to reassure poor Snatch who was still immobilized with shock at her unceremonious removal from the car, and then unpacked what I needed to and thought about some food. I was ravenous having had only a “pao” (Portuguese bread) and some cashew nuts the entire day.
It was great being able to do everything in my own time, at my own pace and not be dictated to by another person’s needs that moved to a different clock to mine.
This journey had really begun…