In Captivity: Week 6 – There’s a lot of realising going on…

In Captivity: Week 6 – There’s a lot of realising going on…

The sun shone all last week and each day I spent some time in the garden, usually in the early afternoon. A time to look into the outside world, albeit a small world contained within two hedges, a fence and the back of the house. But I could gaze up to the roofs of other houses, to the tops of the trees and to the sky. It’s time out of the rest of the day. My equivalent of a siesta. I sit and write, think, read a little, watch the squirrels chase one another along the fence, listen to children playing in neighbouring gardens, mutter under my breath about people who insist on having their speakerphone on every time they’re on a call. Contemplate my good fortune to be able to sit here during these oddest of days. Sometimes feel guilty about it. 

It’s all changed. ‘Siesta’ time today but the rain is pelting the window pane and I can see the top of the silver birch swaying about in the wind.  Those extraordinary sunny days have given way to cooler, more changeable ones. I was going to say more seasonal but today feels like autumn. Still, it’s good to keep looking out, even if it is through windows mottled with raindrops to brooding skies – and an appreciative garden.

I thought my mood might change with the weather. That all this confinement would feel more confining. It was a novelty at first and I got more done (a whole morning of baking yesterday) since I didn’t feel I absolutely had to spend some time in the sunshine. This is only the third day; 5 days, a week, that may feel more testing. I feel OK though I’m conscious of how I tend to avoid letting my thoughts dwell too long on certain things, especially the things I miss. Which usually comes down to contact with friends, actually being with the people whose hugs I enjoy, whose food I like to share or have them share mine, the people I gently argue with about whose turn it is to buy the coffee as we pull a book out of a carrier bag to give them muttering – “You must read this”. These are the people I want to see in all weathers, in daylight and in shadow, in three full dimensions, to have conversations that meander over a walk or a drive or a late breakfast. These are the people I want to sit alongside in a little group, over a meal, around a table when I can relish the quiet moments listening to them, observing them in conversation with others. 

The quiet moments – there are plenty of those, of course. Some quiet moments are absent. I miss them: the silences I have with friends, those rewarding silences of being comfortably together, walking along pace for pace lost in our own thoughts, occasionally drawing attention to something we’ve seen, remembering something and sharing it and finding, some alchemy takes place and it leads to a whole new conversation, then falling quiet again. It’s difficult to have companionable silence on screen. I realise there are ways I rather like silence. Or rather, there are certain kinds of silence I like.

I realise that there’s a lot of realising going on right now. I’m doing it and several of the people I talk to online are doing it too. All this time to stand and stare at ourselves. All the usual props and distractions, the pressing everyday-ness, the full diaries and the trains to catch, once they are all gone for a while – though some days the online diary does feel quite busy – some of us seem to be feeling sort of pared back to some bit of ourselves we don’t always take much notice of in ‘normal’ life. The old normal, I mean. So, conversations with friends, though they may lack those warm silences, are taking all sorts of new directions. I’m getting to know new things about old friends as they share the realisations this strange time has brought them; new friendships seem already familiar as they somehow blossom more rapidly than is usual when little personal epiphanies are shared. I find these conversations fascinating. How they suddenly open up friendships in ways that were not available before, or we weren’t brave enough to explore. 

I suppose there’s a way in which all this self-searching is self-indulgent. Another nod to feeling both fortunate and guilty. It could even be depressing. But it’s also heartening and positive. Though we can’t see very far into the future, some people seem to be seeing more clearly into themselves. 

  • Madeleine Ehm
    Posted at 16:49h, 30 April Reply

    Brilliant observations, Lizzie! I can relate to a lot of things you are describing. Madeleine x

  • Sarah
    Posted at 12:00h, 05 May Reply

    Insightful and thought provoking as usual. As time goes on, I feel myself sinking into this way of being, adapting to it, and often enjoying the quietness and quiet solitary past times. But not always. Some friendships have adapted smoothly and are as sustained or deeper than before. Others are currently at one side, as though one of us was on holiday.

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