Moments in isolation

It’s a beautiful, blue-skied morning. I don’t know why it should, but it reminded me of trips to Europe. Coolish days in the Mediterranean, I thought. It was not an unwelcome memory, though it seems far away now.

Random memories have come back to me like that. Last week I SMS’d a friend. I’d had a flash of memory going to some fancy hotel with a courtyard. In the courtyard was a lovely pool, a deep blue, and fringed by palms and banana lounges. Waiters came to take our orders and served us cocktails. It was a warm day, and we swam and sat in the shade and drank our cocktails. It was a brief interlude, and I swear I hadn’t thought of it from the day we walked out there. But here it was again, a shiny fragment of memory given back to me to ponder.

Was it Bali? I wondered, though it didn’t seem right. Europe then? I knew others were with me – this wasn’t one of my solo trips. So I texted JV. In the end, hours later, I sent him another message: don’t worry, it was Pnom Penh, and you weren’t there. Sorry. (It was Whisky). I was relieved that the details had returned to me, but there are hundreds of such fragments that fly through my mind like shooting stars.

I was walking Rigby when I looked up at the sky. Others were out and about, each of us keeping a social distance.

There’s an older man I pass in the street quite often. He has a wrinkled, friendly face and always wears an Akubra. We wish each other good morning each time we meet, “how’re you going, mate?” he’ll ask every time.

There was another elderly couple, the husband tall and walking with an unbalanced lurch. As you do sometimes, I wondered at his life, how he came to be hear, how the lurch had developed?

At home now and it’s a non-work day. The birds flutter outside my window. Later I’ll bake a cake. I’ll read. Maybe I’ll write, though the gift of it has deserted me lately. I’ll send a couple of messages, and I’ll receive replies. This is life contained.

The other day I locked myself out. I could have called the Cheeses and asked for them to bring the spare key over, but I didn’t want to bother them for my carelessness. The back door was open, I knew, and so I hoisted myself up onto the roof and crossed it daintily, careful not to break any tiles. I’d liked to say I dropped into the back yard like a ninja, but the truth is I lowered myself carefully. The whole thing left me out of breath and thinking I was much too old for such James Bond shit. No-one noticed. The world went on. Everything is still.

I think that’s one of the things now – we have little visibility of consequence. Because everything is remote, it feels like a deep pond with barely a ripple in it. Like the sky, it feels blue and unchanging, though tomorrow will be different again. Like everything, these are moments in isolation, unconnected, fragments. So it seems to me, anyway.

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