17 March 2011

Last Friday

I remember last Friday, I'd woken up to the sun streaming through my windows. I usually wake up at around 6:35am, but because I'd washed my hair the night before, I allowed myself that extra fifteen minutes in bed, which had made all the difference. As I stretched myself out in the double bed, I thought it felt a little too roomy, it was definitely time for Liam to come back home. He'd been away for the week with work, and his flight arrived in Heathrow just after lunch, so I'd taken a half day off work so I could meet him.
I lay there looking about the room, thinking of my half day prospects, and what I might choose to do with them. It was so quiet and beautifully bright, and since I'd left the window slightly open, a cool breeze drifted through the room. My stirring had woken the cat, who prrped and jumped onto the bed, padding about the duvet, before finally resting herself on my stomach, purring loudly.
I was in such a good mood. I hoofed the cat off the bed, and pulled the curtains right back, and began to get ready for work.
I never thought to put the television or the radio on. I'm usually having to be quiet, feeling my way through my wash bag to find my moisturier in the dark of our room, or only half blow-drying my hair in the living-room so as not to wake Liam who leaves for work a little later than me. I also didn't get the chance to pick up the newspaper on the tube, all because I'd been so leisurely in walking to Southfields tube, enjoying this rare bright March morning. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary, in fact, London felt less dirty, and more chirpy this morning in general.

Walking out of Green Park station, I turned right, following the swarm of people streaming down and turning off various side roads, as usual everyone was absorbed in getting to work as fast as possible; their minds seemed absent from their bodies, which dived in and out of the crowd, dancing sidesteps around different kinds of obstacles.

Man with briefcase stuck out too far.
Luminously-clad newspaper guy.
Woman with buggy - much too slow.
Girl absorbed with texting.
Delivery man unloading barrels of beer.
Older lady tottering in too-high-shoes.
Oops. Crate of wine.
Pause to let him through.
Quick steps to catch up.
Cross the road - timed perfectly to miss that bike.

It was like a choreographed dance routine they performed for themselves each day. But Friday I felt different. And to prove I was different, I walked slowly. I looked up to the sky, and admired the blue. It struck me that I rarely looked higher than a few paving stones in front of me. As I looked up, I could see I was interrupting their dancing. I was the obstacle. And I quite liked it. Being the one who was different felt good. And because I behaved differently, I noticed the things I wouldn't usually see. I reached the corner of my road - the one I always turn right into - and I stopped.

Green Park had caught my eye. It was the trees in the park - just a little way off - and how the sunlight shone through all the tiny little leaves, which blew together in the breeze and all merged into a glittery green mass. The trunks of the trees looked silvery, and I thought the way they bent and twisted looked just beautiful. Call me a hippy, but I felt like running over to hug one.
I stood still for longer than a moment, wishing I lived closer to the woods, the sea, green country fields and fresh air. Sometimes you just get zapped into the concrete world of London for too long, and it takes just a different head space to remind you of what you are missing.
I pulled myself away from the view, and turned off right, my view: the familiar high buildings with hundreds of glass windows lining the roads that lead to my office.

I started up my computer as usual, sipped my cup of tea and flicked automatically to BBC world news website. I had avoided media, quite by accident all morning, but it was suddenly loud and clear in front of me: an earthquake had hit off shore Japan.
I stared at the screen not quite believing it. Devastating evidence of a grand scale natural disaster filled page after page across the internet. As I replayed the videos of the tsunami hitting the coast, I saw pictures of fathers searching for their wives and family homes. Homes made of sturdy bricks and wood which had vanished completely in only a couple of hours - consumed easily by the waters. I felt so far away from the moment only ten minutes before, when I'd stood admiring the beauty of a green, leafy park on a sunny day, and my quiet moment felt quite fickle, somehow. Nature continued to prove to us it is well beyond our control, and the world continues to remind us we live here amongst all things; no more important - and no less. I imagined I was feeling just like so many people all around the world at that very moment, and for the second time that morning, I fell quiet.


  1. The first I saw of the quake was on twitter. I also had enjoyed the journey inti work and yet after seeing the news it didn't feel quite as clean and fresh as it had done.

  2. It's amazing how the earthquake has made me see the mundane and the routine in a different light. You captured it beautifully here.

  3. Fabulous writing without any mawkishness or over-dramatism. Beautifully subtle.

  4. I was in a hotel in Florida and woke up in the night and turned on the news to hear it. I was utterly in shock. How horrible. Those poor people. You have to appreciate every day, every minute, everything that you have in life because it can be gone in a second.

  5. I agree with Baglady; beautifully subtle.

    I feel so far removed from the events in Japan, being in North America. I can only imagine the heartbreak and disarray. Oh, those poor, poor people.

  6. I saw a little blurb on the internet and thought, I will read about that tomorrow. Just saw earthquake in Japan and didn't really see the size or the tsunami part. Next morning we didn't have the t.v. on although we normally do. Later, when I turned the t.v. on, the channel I was watching didn't say a word. Then the noon news came on and I saw. Makes you feel sort of strange that something so important was going on and you didn't know anything about the event.

  7. You got it, Bth. No more or no less. We all felt it that day. Beautifully said here. ;)
    (Pay a visit to SS - you have a little trophy waiting for you.)

  8. Completely agree with Baglady - fantastic writing, subtle. Just lovely.