A yellow-eyed Scorpio moon last night and when I let the dog out after mignight, the aloes and agaves, wild spiralling rosettes and thorny branched beasts, were dead white as stone, striped black/white like a harlequin and unearthly.
In her poems Emily Bronte, that very solitary and irreligious clergyman’s daughter of Haworth parsonage, talks about the presence she knew only as Thou. Alone in her bed at night, feverish with tuberculosis, raging and ill, Thou would come like a still cool hand. Out on the moors, Thou was wilder and unknown, a startling force mingled with the nature Emily loved so deeply. Thou would endure; Emily would not. She would die on a winter’s afternoon on a sofa in the cramped family living room, aged only 31. In her poems and the powerful Gothic fantasy of Wuthering Heights Thou would be found.
I don’t talk much about a Higher Power, not the way I used to talk. The more real, concrete and specific my life becomes, the more rooted I am in sobriety, the more aware I am of presence and the unspoken, of all I have to be grateful for, of the mystery of community and healing and hopefulness and a life restored and created anew.
The past is past. The future is tomorrow. Waking this morning to a chill in the room, resisting the temptation to snuggle deeper under the duvet and daydream, I could feel the day open up like a gift unfolding within. Difficulties, yes, but only the difficulties for today. I tackle what I can manage for today. And there are so many activities to look forward to: walks on the mountainside, flowering daylilies like fat gleaming pink and golden faces, friends coming around for coffee, fiction going reasonably well so far, new coriander seedlings thriving and chile seeds about to sprout. A novel by Amelie Nothomb next to my armchair in the study. My dog rolling on the wet but sunwarmed grass in the back garden, trying to catch a golden mole that has hastily gone to earth.
One day at a time, the instruction to simply stay in the present. Nothing more. Sacrament of the present moment.
A tractor mowing grass on the field across the road, great uneven swathes. Tiny sparrow darting around the cistus and lavender bushes. My housemate calls and tells me she has had a terrible dream athat I abandoned her and tried to kill her. I am very gentle on the phone, reassuring. But I will not be made to feel guilty because I am going over to England for a month. The trip scares me enough and I will need to deal with that fear when I reach the airport next month. I stand at the window and breathe deeply. It is her dream. I love her and will not abandon her. Her father left her mother who threatened to send the children to live with him and his new mistress. He didn’t want them. ‘Then they will be left on a bench in some park to die of hunger!’ screamed the outraged and abandoned wife, forgetting the small children standing all around her and listening to this. Later the father came back and said he had made a mistake. But children do not process trauma as adults do.
My life is changing. My nature itself is changing. I am entering into a new relationship. Not just one relationship, although there is one primary relationship that means a great deal to me. But there are new friendships. And I am allowing others to get to know me. I am listening, getting to know them, sharing myself. No hasty or impulsive moves. Gently does it.
A community is out there and I have come to belong within it. Recovery. Service. Sharing. Befriending. Growth. It is very hard to write about purpose because there is a difference in the way I go about my life now. As if I had learned to walk, found myself treading new earth, the way I looked at everything so differently when I regained my sight after the Yag-laser surgery. Walking firmly and with a new determination but not with eyes searching out a distant horizon.
I am here. That is enough. I am working towards a trip to Englnd. I am going to meet somebody I care a bout. I do not know what will happen next. I will work that out when I get there. We wll work it out together, if there is a ‘we’. There will be cow parsley towering over the country roads and bluebells in the woods in England. Right now there are autumn leaves like beaten copper and blue-black berries on viburnum bushes, the fruits of Ochna serrulata alongside the drive to delight the Cape mossies.
I missed out on so many years, my twenties and my thirties, I have memories like a handful of blackmailer’s snapshots. This you did when drunk. This you did when ashamed. This you did in despair. This was the last death but one. This was you picking up another drink.
And here I am today, with a pot of green tea and bunches of lavender for the bathroom, playing Vivaldi and letting the old house dnce in motes of sunlight and warmth. Just for today, just for this moment, to be alive, to feel the life in me. Thou in me.