19 Apr In Captivity: Week 5 – Survival Notes
I’m running four notebooks at the moment. I usually have one or two on the go but now, for some reason, I have a quartet. I flit between them, often writing in at least two of them on any day. This seems to speak as much to my urge to write these days as well as my inability to focus on one thing. The urge is stronger than ever; the focus more elusive.
There’s the black notebook. I’m writing in that now, drafting this piece. Sitting in my little back garden in the warm sunshine listening to birdsong. There’s always birdsong here but never like this, never with the layers of voice and the intensity of melody that there is now that the world is quieter, the air cleaner, my awareness more acute. The black notebook is for random pieces, drafts of blogs or letters, notes of courses, fragments of daydreams or the private discharge of temper.
There’s one for the “memoir”, the work in progress; long, slow progress. That one is dark blue. I sometimes wonder if there was an unconscious intention about my choice of colour for the notebook where I would poke among the shadows of the past and try to divulge my unedited self. There’s been less of that these past few weeks. Somehow the burdens of the present are more pressing.
Then there’s the turquoise one, the colour of the sea nudging pure white sand on the west coast of Harris on a bright June day. This is volume two of the turquoise series, where I make notes before and after my weekly therapy sessions, capture insights before they slip away, occasionally write down last night’s dream, pen fleeting thoughts or things I want to remember for the next time.
The fourth one is called ‘khaki beige’, I suppose the khaki was added to make it sound more edgy, less like our grandparents’ antimacassars. But I think of it as milky caramel or cream fudge, something sweet and nourishing. This is the one where I rehearse a dialogue with my daughter. She is also someone who needs to write. We had often talked about how we should make a record of the long, rich conversations we have about the issues that preoccupy us. Over the years since she returned from living in Argentina, we have got to know each other differently, as two women with much to learn from one another. We have turned our intermittent dialogue into a daily one, a diary of COVID days.
Good things prowl in the dark places. This daily sharing of thoughts is the precious, unforeseen benefit of this time of confinement and separation. Physical distance is harnessing a greater depth of emotional closeness. The threat of the virus, the sense of losing time, maybe even losing one another, has made it urgent to share stories, reveal secrets, explore ideas and excavate memories. It gives me a sense of her while I can only see her on screen, while I can’t hug her, be in the same room, breathe in her familiar scent. I can still ‘walk alongside’ her in words as we find our way through this. I sometimes wonder, would we have reached these conversations without this moment of upheaval and dislocation? Maybe we would. I’m not sure.