It’s our second day back from two and a half weeks in France. The older two are at tennis (finally the perfect day for it: blue-skied, low 20s), & Pops is sitting on the rug setting up the tea party for Zeezee his zebra’s 100th birthday (‘He’s got very old suddenly,’ T commented. ‘He was ten last week.’).
Coming home is, I find, always a different experience. There are times when the house seems impossibly narrow or shabby or filled with cat hair (and, being honest, cat shit), & then there are the times when it seems we’re ridiculously lucky to be living right here, where we are, in the middle of our terrace, in the middle of this small city.
Fortunately, this time, despite the almost obligatory welcoming rain, it all seems pretty perfect. The roses & sweet peas are still blooming. The self-seeded nasturtiums have gone wild. The grass is long & thick. Inside, each corner reveals its own secrets. The string-of-hearts hanging from the bathroom cabinet. The now cryptic Post-It notes on my desk (‘inhabiting a poem/Goat in Boat/bicycle carrier/toner/Helen Garner’) . Tilly-Cat butting her soft head against any leg she can find (–the mysterious injuries on my leg later that I later realise are cat scratches as she claws at me for food).
There was a long time when we were camping, first in Dorset and then later in the south of France, where the internet just wasn’t there. This was probably a good thing. Though it revealed how much things have changed: for example, we’d forgotten to bring our thick Lonely Planet France. Which may or may not have been useful since we were pretty much in the middle of nowhere however you looked at it, which is exactly where we wanted to be.
There was always a cluster of addicts, sitting on the benches outside the small reception, heads bowed to their devices, trying to soak up what WiFi there was, which varied depending on the day from nothing to a little more than nothing. And yes, I sat there too. Emails seemed possible sometimes, if slow. One that I especially enjoyed was Teri Vlassopoulos’s TinyLetter about ‘life as a little self-directed MFA’. ‘Create a syllabus,’ she suggests, and I’ve had great fun thinking about my autumn reading in just that way. Books are now dropping through the door and I’m pulling others from the shelves, and it all feels fresh enough and exciting enough to dispel the post-holiday blues.
There seems to have been a long period this summer when hope was in short supply. I think perhaps I’ve found some more. Or maybe not so much found the hope, as found the hope that I might be able to make the hope myself. Maybe that’s all hope is. Or maybe that’s what holidays are for.