Tonight I looked up from my book, a novel I started more than a year ago, dusted off for a second chance over a gin and tonic, and noticed the sky. Between the dense foliage of my neighbour’s trees the dying light gave a final, defiant shout. Bands of baby boy blue and lobster pink stretched in mozzarella layers between grey stratus sheets. A day of suffocating heat deserved a storm but the weather gods had other ideas, tossing us a fleeting sunset instead. It was brilliant if unexpected.
And this town being what it is, perched on an unforgiving latitude that skips from day to night with unsentimental efficiency, there was no time for a photo. It took me a minute or two to grab a camera and tripod and change lenses, but that was long enough for the light to fade, the colours faltering like a strangled soprano.
It’s been a challenging start to the year with my days devoured by volunteer demands. I’ve written nothing but emails and newsletters for months, not even a lousy Daily Note. And despite my furious pedalling, late nights and early mornings and days spent in pyjamas at my desk, the job is never done. People are disappointed.
At the outset of this adventure I had clear goals. Primarily I wanted to help The Association with its communications. And my ego, plump from a few minor publications, said I could. Beyond altruism, I was looking for a platform to hone my craft, a real world opportunity to sharpen my social media and copywriting skills. And I wanted to be part of a team, to spend time with a group of like-minded people offering their time and talents to get more people in the game.
But there are too few of us at the helm and no money to hire help. I’m exhausted and anxious and not doing a very good job. One project begets another. The more I do the more I find to do. And I resent the hours and hours and hours of unpaid work which have cost me personal writing time and professional opportunities. Sport has become my tar baby and there’s not a briar patch in sight.
So today I shook my head, ditching the board room for the classroom to find inspiration again, determined to claw back some time. I’ve signed up for a four-week course on Creative Writing; two hours every Wednesday to learn how to write narrative. That’s right – I’m going to learn how to make things up. Given my limited imagination it’s likely to take more than eight hours to turn me into a story maker. But I’ll give it a crack.
As for the other characters in this drama, they’re navigating their own speed bumps and potholes as they careen through life.
The Athlete is nursing another injury. This time it’s her wrist which refuses to cooperate. She hasn’t trained properly for weeks. Now, two doctors, an MRI and three physiotherapists later, she finally has a diagnosis; tendinitis. It doesn’t sound like much but it’s a word, a shield to fend off raised eyebrows and pursed lips when doesn’t put in the hours at training.
Closer to home The Champion is recuperating from shoulder surgery. She damaged it playing water polo last October and no amount of physio helped. The pain persisted. So four weeks ago a surgeon made three small incisions around the shoulder joint and skilfully stitched the wonky bits back in place, pleating her floppy labarum and tying loose ends to the bone with anchors. Many drugs and boring couch hours later, she’s on the mend. Two more weeks in a sling and then her life can return to normal.
Mercifully injury-free, The Ballerina has started her final year at school. It’s been a rocky beginning, with friendship hiccups and a decision to change subjects causing stress. But she auditioned successfully for the mixed choir, which means two hour every week hanging out with a handful of boys after school. We call that a silver lining.