Old Buildings

Old buildings. Old people. Memories that tell me stories of life and love. I’m collecting their moods in my heart. 

I love old buildings. At times I take walks along the downtown where history lives. Stone faces and wide trimmed windows. Old wood and brick somehow comfort me. Things slow down and I can breathe.

Walks take me out and away. Both provide and alleviate distractions. The stone in my shoe, a twinge in my hip. Fibromyalgia biting at me. Deal with it. Walk. I love to walk. Look around. Reflect on life.

Today, my walk starts indoors. Shopping. And a customer who likes to chat.

Oh you jumped the fence today, did yah?

I laugh. Yes. I jumped the fence, but I’m in later to work the afternoon shift.

A sweet man. Always friendly. He talks happily about visiting family, going to meet his newest great grandchild. Moments of joy. He will get tested (Covid) before he goes, just to be safe. He’s looking forward to turning 89 next June. Why that year, I’m not sure, but tell him he’s the same age as my mom. She’s aiming high too. He bought pastry shells to make butter tarts. Loves to cook. I knew that about him. He reminds me of growing up, having my parents and grandparents around me, soft smells of home.

Old buildings. Old people. Memories that tell me stories of life and love. I’m collecting their moods in my heart. Letting them fill me with strength and joy. I’m building my own stories. People I love, those who love me. Times and means of being together in this wild year, riding out the unknowns. Alone is better shared. Every puzzle can be solved. Even this one.

It’s hard to believe March is so far behind us. It’s been a choppy ride and promises a few more whitecaps before we’re done. Balance is important. Friends, neighbours, co-workers, customers all contribute and test my balance. Some kind, others … they rock things hard.

Old buildings, long walks, pacing myself. The smiles work their way up from inside. Little bursts of joy to measure the day. Giving myself space to react and remember there were older times and older ways and older folks who lived and loved and steadied themselves in rough times. They made it through. I can too.

One day, the old ways will be mine and others will look back at me and smile.

Connection

Photo (c) 2020 Margreet Kuypers, used by permission

I wrote the following and gave it a day to breathe. Rough starts don’t determine the end. Learning to speak truth, I’m discovering the good people who care about me.

The day began with words, as it often does, struggling with fears and the prospect of days off facing them. I continued to make notes throughout as I often do. It’s good for reflecting.

Make myself get out of bed, eat something, write out a gratitude list for a workshop. Tell myself I will do these things. I am depressed. I need to acknowledge it. I want to practice drawing, paint something for fun, write in my journal. Edit a section of memoir, poem or song. Play my guitar, even just one song. Call a counselor or friend.

Depression slows time, drags it out, pushes sleep like a pillow at my face. I can’t stay here. I push back with activity. That works some days. Others not at all. I don’t like this place. I carry it to work at times and the weight is crushing.

Work covers bills. It has been a safe place for two years. Fighting depression, I depend on interaction. Most days, it helps. Lately it’s more complicated and this week made me lonely. I need to keep an eye on how I feel.

At the beginning of our lock down, when lines and limits were first established, shock took charge. I know this place. Crisis and abuse for years, my body on high alert watching for danger, keep others safe, push away anything else but focus, stay focused.

This crisis is less now. It’s becoming familiar. I don’t have shock to help me cover emotions with necessity. Coping becomes harder. Work is safe, but brings an element of isolation. Self Check Out is work done mostly alone. It can be busy, but also lonely. It has run the gamut the past six weeks. At the moment, I don’t have panic to create an edge. I do worry about contact, still tell people stand back. It’s easy to forget. Weather warming, I spend days serving couples and families, people talking about homes and gardens, all the details of life shared. A quieter crisis. It sounds stupid. I miss those things even though I know I am better away from the abuse. I hate alone, but it’s life at the moment, so I live stuck between my two boxes. Work and home.

Sharing my mood on Facebook, a friend offered a walk (appropriately social distanced). An hour meandering old streets, by water, old houses, tall trees. We stopped at points to take photos, reflective, social, just for fun. Water and shadows, movement and moods. We caught up on life and longing. Processing our current state of suspension, our observations on ways we, and others, cope or don’t as we navigate needs and wants.

End of day, I finished writing this, most of my hoped for activities done and space for contemplation of what’s to come. I’m grateful for friends reaching out, for time, walks and opportunities to hug a tree. Yes. There is still life left to be lived. Alone is part reality, part state of mind. And a little connection goes a long way.

Life is good.