On the old rose-red Italian platter I bought way back in 1992 there are heaped ripe peaches, so fragrant that the kitchen smells like an orchard.
My plans for a sedate weekend are running away in all directions. The housemate had a call from an old friend and invited her to drive four hours from another remote village to visit us.
‘Tutti loves dogs too,’ said the housemate happily. ‘She is not sure if she can get all five retrievers into the back of her ancient Volvo, but Satchi will have friends to play with. Isn’t that nice? She is bringing some home-cured salmon and dill gravlax as well as salt beef in a bucket of brine. She may have to leave her husband at home because there won’t be room in the car.’
One of the newly sober women (let’s call her X or Xanthe) coming over for a sedate Christmas lunch under the olive trees rang me to say the guitar-playing ex-boyfriend with a little drink problem has been charged with assaulting his former wife.
Xanthe: He wouldn’t hurt a fly. The sweetest man. She must have provoked him beyond reason. I am selling my grandmother’s pearl ring to get bail for him. All I can think about is him and I may have to stay here in my apartment all alone on Christmas day in case he needs me.
The other newly sober woman, (called Y or Yolande) is on a shimmering pink cloud at 65 days sober. She is bringing along a video camera so she can video the luncheon and capture the thrilling occasion for posterity. Do I want a camera in my face as I watch eight dogs tearing around the garden while eating salmon that glows in the dark?
Yolande’s video project is taking on the glamour of Angelina Jolie’s directorial debut. She has so much energy she wants to climb the Cape fold mountains in ferocious summer heat. In January she will have her ears pinned back for cosmetic enhancement and embark on a film-maker’s course. In April she wants to relocate to Nairobi. She has given up smoking, caffeine, chocolate, men, romantic comedies, her job, antidepressants. And alcohol.
It”s called acceptance, I suppose. Life like a river in spate, carrying along dreams, expectations and hopes like trees wrenched up by their roots. So I plunge into the river, hoping for a calmer eddy, a safe current, and wonder if I shall sink or swim, my life entangled with the lives of others, all of us coming up for air and chancing the rapids. Waving not drowning. Shakespeare comes back to me:
There is a tide in the affairs of men, which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in.