As is the norm lately I’m sitting here in the shop acting as receptionist. I’ll be here till 5 today getting progressively more bored, as I will be tomorrow as well. I spent 4 hours here over the weekend doing the same thing. I do it because it saves me the money I’m so desperately short of.
It’s convenient in a way also. I sleep on the couch. I am woken each morning by the chaos of 3 kids getting ready for school. There appears little pattern or routine. They go in and out of the bathroom, leaving it slick with water and littered with discarded pyjamas. They stand around eating cereal from their bowls, somehow managing to make this noisy too. I can’t fight it, and so I fold up my bedclothes and find a quiet place to deposit myself.
More often than not that quiet place is at another address. I can never get into the bathroom but for a quick piss and a hurried brush of my teeth. Most mornings I dress without having showered, needing to re-schedule that for a time I can have the bathroom to myself – generally not until after 9.30 am.
I’m dressed then and loitering, keeping out of people’s way, and trying to find a peaceful spot. I feel very much a visitor.
When I’m not working in the shop I’ll often take myself off to a nearby cafe for an hour. I’ll leave in the midst of the mayhem and return when it has dissipated. Often this hour is the most serene of my day. I sit there with a latte and read the paper or catch up on my twitter. I’ll look about me at the people who frequent cafes at that time of day, retired people, working fathers with their uniformed kids stopping off on the way to school, mothers catching up with other mothers. I seem to be a demographic of my own, and feel it, a wolf in wolves clothing.
More often than not I seem to have coffee at cafes that double as pastry shops. I’m a sucker for a good pastry at any time, but given I’m going to sit there for an hour feel obliged to get more than just a latte. Most mornings then I’ll get a pastry with my coffee, an escargot or a hazelnut brioche, an almond croissant, mini passionfruit tart, or just a macaron. It’s an unhealthy, indulgent business, but given my life is short of indulgence these days something I allow myself.
On the days I am working I’ll leave early to get away from the chaos. I’ll drive in and park behind the shop. Mostly I’ll stop at the cafe on the corner and get my morning latte. I’ll often pause there to chat with the owner I’ve become well acquainted with – we share retailers gossip – or else the lovely girl who serves me more often than not.
Sometimes I’ll sit myself down for a real breakfast. I love my cooked breakfast, and have always been a big fan. Strangely I have more cooked breakfast these days than ever before. I have the time after all, and the opportunity. It also acts as a break for me. Once more I sit down in civilised surrounds just like a regular citizen and take time for myself.
This is what I did this morning. This morning it was a poached egg on smashed avocado with Persian feta. Last week it was Yarra Valley mushrooms with a poached egg and creamed potato. Tomorrow it might be the ricotta hotcakes.
I’m sampling all the local breakfast places progressively. I excuse it on these work days knowing I’ll not be eating lunch. Unfortunately being stuck behind a desk doesn’t make for an active lifestyle, so realistically one cancels out the other. I don’t feel particularly healthy these days.
All of this makes for an irregular lifestyle. I’ll rarely be ‘home’ at meal times (which suits me), but that means I eat late a cobbled together meal, buy something, or go without. I don’t exercise as I did before because I’m always interrupted whenever I try to. I can’t even shower when I want.
It’s a life of fitting things in, making way for others and trying to do the most of the limited opportunities I have. I’m the lowest on the totem pole and I have no issue with that. It’s making it work in a practical sense that is the challenge.