In the night, the dog asks for the door. I walk down the carpeted steps in the common hallway, and let her step down to the garden. A few weeks from now, the routine will change. I’ll walk up from the bedroom area to the ground floor but there’ll be no garden at the front door. Just a tiny patch of grass, then, the street.
I’m taking in as many of the pleasant features as I can of this living space because, of course, I’ll miss every one of them. The view out the window while the sun rises. The spaciousness. The proximity to the cinema and the library.
I’m reminded of the time when I travelled alone across Europe for three months. The time of leaving a place where things had happened, good and bad. Something else was about to happen, no saying what the day would bring in terms of encounters. What stays the most with me of that period: the sharpness of senses attuned to the unknown. Not much you can take for granted when traveling alone. Of course, this time, the move is a matter of a few streets in the same town. No matter. All the details of daily living will shift, like the bits of colored glass in a kaleidoscope.
At one of the local schools, the teachers and their assistants were cutting loose last night. A particularly tough year filled with dramatic, life-altering events for both staff and students. Stories, stories, stories, all the things teachers can’t say in front of the children or of their parents. Lots to sort through. In all of it, the haunting image of an alcoholic mother’s lament to the teacher: funds were so low, she complained, she couldn’t even buy the two-liter size cola bottles. The teacher failed to appreciate the tragedy until she understood why this was a problem: the mother uses the empties as her tool for beating-on-the-kid. She even provided the reason for her choice of implement: the beating stings, but leaves no tell-tale marks – in her view, this meant she was doing the humane thing with her child.
All things be relative, yes indeed. (And yes, the teacher passed on the information to the Social worker, and yes, and so on. But last night was about letting out the stories, and working in some comic relief.)
Story lines at cross-roads. Which signals to follow now, which signals to store for future reference. A sound, a scent, a sight.
The air, still cool. Windows, still open. Another coffee, and into the day.