Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Watching the Wheels Go Round and Round

Watching the Wheels Go Round and Round

"I'm just sittin' here watching the wheels go round and round--I really love to watch them roll. No longer riding on the merry-go-round. I just had to let it go..." John Lennon

I feel compelled to start this entry with a confession--it has been two years and three months since my last writing on this blog. My last entry, in fact, was in December, 2010, at Christmas time. I had just come from a carol sing-along at the Royal Albert Hall, surrounded by old white ladies wearing reindeer antlers and blinking hats, and I was filled with memories of my sister, who donned festive hats and socks for any occasion, but especially loved the ones at Christmas, who belted out carols from Halloween until New Year's Day, driving us all to madness with her myriad recordings of them, played incessantly, at her house and in the car and wherever she could find a place to play them.

Shortly after that blog, I met Stan, a wild and sensitive man, and I was drawn to him, to his kindness, his humour, his spirituality and his depth. He brought to me a sense of how to treat the world and the people in it with a lighter touch. He taught me an awareness of the sights and sounds and startling details of the natural world. He lived 200 miles north, in Glossop, a village on the edge of the Peak district, and we have spent the last two years commuting back and forth from there to London each weekend, in order to be together. 

On weekends in London, we'd eat at Indian restaurants in my neighbourhood, go to a play at the West End, or a concert on the South Bank of the River Thames. We'd take in a movie at the independent cinema in Brixton, or stroll the culturally rich markets there, sampling the Jamaican curries, visiting the reggae record shops.

On alternate weekends, I would journey north, pushing my way through the turnstiles and crushing crowds of central London on Friday afternoons, scrambling to find a seat on the coach or the train. And as the world outside my window slowly shifted, from strings of skyscrapers and littered streets to rolling green hills, dotted with sheep, to stone walls and gurgling streams, I could feel myself begin to breathe a bit deeper, my heart slow its rhythm, my neck muscles lengthen, my shoulders relax. 

 I fell in love. I fell in love with Stan, and his maddening, wonderful spirit. And I fell in love with the north, with the century old pubs serving home-cooked, Sunday dinners, with his family and friends, who welcomed me warmly into the fold, with the sloping moors, bursting with the purple of heather in the fall, with the sound of the wind, the smooth shape of yellow stone cottages, the old mills, still standing, some empty and maybe haunted, some rebuilt into offices or flats.

Through the months of our long distance relationship, the weekly separation and the exhausting travel took a toll on us both. But it was harder on me, I think, to return to the swirl and the stink of the bustling streets of south London each fortnight. The work, too, was wearing me down, with its bureaucracy and its unrealistic expectations and deadlines, its relentless pressure under draconian budget cuts. I had spent my whole life in Social Work, and often I had felt I was beating my head against the unyielding walls of government. But  there, the walls seemed harder to penetrate. I felt like a hamster in a cage, constantly churning the wheels of the system, accomplishing only a little, helping a limited few.

So in November, we married. We had an intimate ceremony at the Registry office, surrounded by family and friends, followed by an afternoon meal and a bigger reception that evening at his favourite pubs. It was simple and colourful and a happy celebration of the new life we would share. Then I returned, to Croydon, to work for the next two months. And in January, I moved up here, intending to take a little break from the rigours of work, to breathe, and to rest. To begin our life together.
Stan's family at our wedding

In the two months of our new life together, we have sorted some things, adjusted to living in the same space, and deepened our love for and appreciation of one another. And I have found an easy rhythm to my life, awakening in the morning, listening to the silence, sometimes meditating, sometimes doing yoga, writing in my journal, hiking, when weather permits, in the hills just a few steps from our front door. It has been two months, and I am letting go of the craziness of society's merry-go-round. I am conserving my funds (I have just a little), trying to make it stretch, learning not to covet and buy at the drop of a hat, to resist the impulse to fill my days with material goods and desires. I am letting go of the destructive habits and distractions that fueled my participation in that crazy world, the world of striving and endless pursuit and relentless toil. I have applied for some jobs, but I am hoping to give myself, for the first time in my life, the time and space to write. To breathe. To be content to watch the wheels roll.