In this crazily competitive yet compelling world we live in, finding the time to breathe and smell the roses can sometimes feel an uphill struggle.
But in an exceptionally rare turn of events last weekend, the old man discovered that he actually did have some friends and deserted me for a round of golf with da boyz.
Giving me just that. Time to breathe.
It’s not as though we’ve ever been one of those couples that cohabit in each other’s pockets – I lead my own life and he…watches lots of sport on tv… but as I work most Saturdays, we do tend to hang out together on a Sunday.
So it’s rare for me to find myself on my own.
The torturous temptation last Sunday, OBVIOUSLY, was to lie in bed all day with only Facebook, Twitter, the Sunday papers and a packet of Snickers Pods for company, but I somehow managed to persuade myself that I am better than that, found some previously-lost backbone, got my ass into some sort of gear and went and did something for me for a change.
We are very fortunate where we live in Sydney, to be situated right next to THE Harbour Bridge, so with my newfound wisdom in my backpack, I decided that instead of looking at that damn bridge every day and bemoaning the fact that I never find the opportunity to walk it, I would do just that. Then I planned a little meander around the markets at The Rocks and would finish my little tour d’independence with a bracing swim at North Sydney pool.
Sometimes, it’s only when you push yourself out there, to the outskirts of your comfort zone of self-imposed laziness and lame excuses and ignore the ridiculous notion that you need to be with people to feel energised or fulfilled, that you fully appreciate time to breathe.
We all lead busy lives and cohabiting with a very noisy, highly theatrical 6’ teenager with a voice as deeply penetrating as Russell Crowe’s in a tight apartment, (which also happens to be my work zone), sometimes can make me feel claustrophobic and I need to escape…pronto.
The Harbour Bridge is 2.2 kms long and it was a typically, gloriously, sunny, Sydney afternoon when I set off.
I had obviously forgotten about these steps in the planning process…
And it took all my self-discipline to walk past this ice cream van with its tempting ooze of whipped ice cream with flake on the top, which seemed like a fair reward for conquering those steps…
Do you remember when you were a child and heard the first taunting musical notes from the ice cream van as it entered your neighbourhood, and you silently prayed for the next few minutes that your mum would rattle the change in her purse? One listener called into the radio station I listen to the other day for a segment called ‘the lies your parents told you’ and told us how his dad used to tell her that the ice cream van only played a tune when they had run out of ice cream.
Now that’s my kind of parenting.
Not quite as good as my invention of biscuit cancer (she was obviously an amateur), after which we were forced to up Kurt’s anxiety medication.
Panting Invigorated, I wandered around The Rocks with its market stalls full of ridiculously expensive Australiana paraphernalia that we like to off-load to our American visitors and then I headed back for a well-deserved and refreshing dip in the pool.
I find I can become quite melancholy these days when I walk by myself and have time to ruminate about where my life is going in middle age. Something as simple as the rare waft of a Gauloise cigarette can transport me back thirty years to the period of my life I spent in France; a child in full-blown tantrum recoiling from the straps of her pushchair and mother reminds me of NC as a baby; the pair of love-sick teenagers who can’t keep their hands off each other remind me of the overwhelming depth of passion the old man and I shared at the tender age of seventeen.
It’s funny how much you change as you grow older, in spite of your best intentions. These days I look at flowers and plants in a new, more appreciative way – something I swore I would never allow to happen in my younger days. And when I watch the party boats glide under the Harbour Bridge with their penetrating duff duff music and drunken young people, I shudder – so relieved am I not to be anywhere near them.
But the melancholy associated with looking back is tinged with gratitude, because I am healthy and in a new and exciting phase of my life, that has opened up all sorts of different opportunities that I never expected to experience.
And for a few moments I find a rare inner peace and at-oneness with the world, that lasts until I return home to find Kurt has set fire to the kitchen making pancakes or some other such minor domestic reality check.