In the literal sense I have no moving moments to share this week. This is because I have vaulted over my removal crates and am now busy organising candles, throws and cushions into random tonal groupings (I try hard to look like I am not trying hard, if you get my drift) as quickly as Favourite Man can regiment them back into rows, right angles and separate pantone colours. In my downtime I have been achieving moving moments of a different kind by meeting up with my buddies – the tribe that I have not seen since the start of lockdown.
Meeting up reminds me how flipping fantabulous my friends are and how much I have missed their chat as well as their lovely faces.
No-one has had an easy lockdown, and we are all aware that we may still have a long way to go. This makes these meet ups all the more valuable. If we can’t belly laugh with our mates then we have more to worry about than where to place our fairy lights (ok, this light issue may just be mine). If you spend too much time in your own company you can start to believe that your behaviour is totally normal, so it has been timely to have my besties point out that not everyone moves pieces of furniture around every few days just to ‘keep things fresh'(we are talking sofas and wardrobes here, by the way and my tendency has heightened during lockdown).
I love the randomness of the conversations I have had with friends this week and I have made the most of the countdown before I need to get my school head back on. Perhaps we have learnt to slow down just a little. I noticed that in all of my meet ups, no-one is in a rush to get away; everyone gets to tell their story and everyone is happy to listen. In fact, we are all keen for more stories.
One of my tribal meet ups involves a rendezvous with my lovely yoga teaching friend (let us call her YTF) for a dog walk around a local lake. We have zoomed and down dogged together through lockdown but it is so much nicer meeting in the flesh and I get to introduce my friend to Dora (my new car, keep up please). We laugh that it has taken me a week to to use Dora’s hands-free, multi-tasking capabilities for the first time and that when I do, I go straight to voicemail on YTF’s car phone because her ‘dash’ is playing the Boris game and ‘shielding’ calls.
When we do eventually start walking, we are so busy chatting that we manage to ignore both the drizzle and the one-way system around the lake and quite rightly get chastised by some locals. Our only defence is force of habit and that we are distracted by a wooden bridge that sends us both off down memory lane as we recount stories of visits to the lake when our adult children were a lot younger – and still ‘willing’ to be seen out in public with their parents. Although I feel that my story of a then teenage Favourite Daughter demanding a photo shoot on said bridge – taking most of the afternoon, causing a queue of people impatient to cross the brook and upsetting my mother who wasn’t invited to appear in any of the photos – was worthy of telling, I have to concede to YTF who Top Trumps me with her story of a swan attack on her then toddler son. YTF comes over all Steve Backshall in the telling of this tale and I am reminded that she is more than just an excellent YTF and how much I have missed our chats.
Speaking of dogs, I also get to meet my friend’s Jack Russell for the first time. Stitch seems to be enjoying company also and is happy to stay out with us even when the drizzle morphs into something stronger. We dutifully follow the one way system back to the car park coffee shop and sit in the damp under a golf umbrella, falling into conversation with other nutters who just do not want to go home either. We all pretend that the weather is great and that we are not getting wet – cyclists, grandparents and an elderly gentlemen who is keen to join us under our umbrella; he tells us stories about visiting this lake in yore times with former wife and former collie and elaborates on a bee sting he received on his nether regions, ‘on this very bench,’ – a sting which his then mother in law, understandably, refused to remove. People just want the chance to talk and to be outside.
As I look back on the week, I dread to think how much coffee I have consumed, but I think my racing heart is warm and fuzzy rather than just reacting badly to excessive caffeine intake.
I am reassured that my tribe – and this is what makes it is my tribe, by the way – has been challenged with lockdown behaviour and a lack of girl chat, but I am heartened that each and every one of my chums is still making jokes at our own expense and using dark humour to keep moving on through to our next transition – what ever form this may take. Our conversations have ranged through:
- sourdough (nope, still not made one but not many of the tribe have either, there is still time)
- Keto dieting (haven’t tried this yet)
- the most stylish face masks (shaping, top wire, nose gusset, #justsaying)
- whether it is worth paying £30 for a designer mask (the answer is no)
- whether hair bands can suffice when elastic runs short if you are making your own masks (I am not and yes they can)
- why clothes shrink during lockdown (#asking for a friend)
- how much food a lockdowned teenager can consume (lots but their clothes don’t seem to shrink)
- partner behaviour during lockdown (excessive exercise/no exercise, DIY projects/no projects, mansplaining, putting candles in straight rows)
- whether it is acceptable to hug your hairdresser when reunited after lockdown (#againjustasking for a friend)
- fear of returning to the house once you have actually made it outside. (FOGI – Fear of Going In)
- whether lockdown has accentuated hot flushes (yes, unless we are having a nocturnal heatwave, people)
- how to climb to the top of the work from home/work from the office preference list (advice from the tribe is that taking up smoking will not bolster a plan to never return to the workplace. Look yourself in the mirror and say, ‘I can’t come in, I am a smoker’, we rest our case).
- Beach muppetry (Use the beach only if you don’t have a garden/hottub/local park, say ‘my people’)
Anyway, as the week ends, I drag myself away from the tribe and travel north up the M5 to get Dora home safely before hoards of staycationers start abusing the one way system and use both sides of the motorway to travel south, citing congestion frustration as their defence. I have a quiet weekend planned but promise I will stay away from the beach by distracting myself with a daily game of spot the difference – this will keep me amused as I decide which ornaments, cushions and candles FM has returned to their original place as I enter each room. Hours of fun.