Every morning now I creep up early, into the silence before the kids waken, open the curtains in the front room and watch as the big winter sky brightens over the allotments opposite. I watch as shadows take shape and eventually colour: the outline of barbed wire over the allotment gates; beyond the allotments, the chimneys and gables of a Victorian school; to the east, the distant minarets of a mosque stand out against the cloud-streaked sky; the copper beeches lining the allotment entrance slowly assume their tawny burnish. Every morning now I watch and appreciate, because soon I will look out my front window and see only the front window of the house opposite.
My world has been falling apart recently. Not in a dreadful, catastrophic way. Rather, many constants are coming to an end, many big decisions are having to be made: a period of reassessment and readjustment. It is just now starting to come together again. I accept the inevitable losses and begin to look to the future with hope, to plan.
As you know, I am blessed with two amazing children. I moan at them when they are running late for school and ask for a lift, but secretly I love to drop them off in town and watch them walk away chatting together, suddenly all grown up. Generally, they talk of school gossip and of music, but sometimes they plot, and a seed previously planted led to my daughter having A Serious Chat with me over tea one night;
Mum, we need to move.
But I thought we were happy here…
No, you were right before, we should move.
I look at the boy, he nods his head.
But we can’t afford anywhere better than here.
So why don’t we rent somewhere?
Because we like the stability of owning where we live.
Well, Dad has just bought another house to rent out, I’m sure he’d let us have it as long as as we wanted.
I asked him about it, he said he knows how proud you are so he wouldn’t do mates rates or anything patronising like that.
It’s in a decent area, the house is a bit bigger than this but still cosy.
Hmmm… I was kind of banking on having the mortgage paid off by the time I retire. If we start renting, I’ll be renting forever.
That’s ok, by the time you retire we’ll have decent jobs, we’ll help you out.
The boy nods.
By then, you’ll also have families to support.
Oh no, I’m going to be career-woman-bitch-from-hell, I ain’t having no brats.
We’ll see about that.
Seriously Ma, you do realise you’re not going to be blessed with grandchildren?
Your brother’s a good boy, he’ll give me grandchildren.
Nope, he’s gay.
He is not.
Really, he’s all gossip and hairstyles, he’s my gay best friend.
Look, I’d be happy if he was gay, but I just don’t think he is.
Don’t you remember how happy he looked the first time he put on my pink Cinderella slippers?
You’re just jealous cos he’s always been better at walking in heels than you.
My boy follows the conversation, interested to discover what is to become of him.
(Happy New Year)