I know that England’s got into the habit of snowing in March and there is still a chill in the air, but it is starting to feel like spring.
Winter always seems to last an eternity; but, as the days grow longer and the warmth slowly creeps back in, something starts to lift and it all begins to seem a bit brighter.
It has reminded me, this unthawing, of a bus journey that I took, several years ago. It was September, so it must have been nearing Autumn; but, because it felt like an awakening, or the dewy freshness of a new beginning, the memory has become intrinsically associated with spring.
Life is full of these stops – and starts – I think. Wintery deaths and then the ridiculously unexpected arrival of spring.
In the bus journey year, the seasons were reversed. Summer was cold and dark, and spent staring at the four walls of a locked psychiatric ward. Any blue sky was seen through the wire mesh that covered the balcony or passed by, unnoticed, as it was far easier to stay in bed.
Time had stopped, some time before July. When they signed the dotted line and there was nowhere left to run, I had suspended
- because I couldn’t see how it would carry on.
Eating was unbearable and not bingeing was impossible and putting on weight was inescapable and the nurse, lurking in the corner, just wouldn’t disappear –
When they told me what they were going to do, I thought that I would die.
On the bus journey, months later, I realised that I was very much alive. Between the grey brick walls of the Royal Free – through Camden Town – to the creamy stone of Bloomsbury, I saw that, despite my expectations, I was still standing; and that, in spite of the locked rooms I’d be returning to, I was infinitely more free.
It took four months to learn that three meals a day and a couple of snacks would not kill me. 120 days to appreciate that it was possible to live – even after many many years – without waking up in the morning to binge. 16 weeks of painfully protracted breakfasts – and lunches – and dinners, to give me enough energy to realise that there was more to life than food. Four walls, two locked doors and no running to prove that it was possible to just be –
And so, although the leaves were crispening and crackling on the bus journey day, and the colours were reds and browns, rather than a vibrant green; the memory has been imprinted, in my mind, as Spring.
And, even though there’s been more stopping – and starting – in between; it has been impossible to forget the sharpness of life beyond the grubby windows, and the sudden kaleidoscopic focussing that comes with new eyes – and another chance – and the hope that characterises