This too shall pass


I’ve had an unsettled week. After Doncaster on Wednesday, I went on to Manchester for the night and a tasty Chinese meal. Thursday began with an early walk with friend and her dog; then most of the day was spent with daughter and grandchildren. It was very odd to be back so soon when I don’t live there any more. I’ve been walking with dogs in that park for nearly twenty years and know the house where I stayed overnight almost as well as if it were my own. Everything felt overwhelmingly familiar; I felt like some sort of imposter and everyone was kind and lovely.

To London on Saturday for mum’s birthday party. It was good to catch up with family, my friends, my mum’s friends – much warmth and good conversation – but I come back feeling disconnected. A slight panic sets in that I will not recapture that sense of being home that I have had so strongly since we moved. Monday afternoon I manage, in my distraction, to give myself twice the insulin I needed, a massive dose; and the afternoon is lost in prolonged and disorientating hypoglycaemia.

Something warmer, more alive stirs in my chest when I walk through the churchyard and again, coming home with the dog, across a snowy field, with the church tower black against a sunset sky and a crescent moon hanging above.

I love these medieval buildings being part of the everyday landscape here, as they were in the landscape of my childhood. The presence of the distant past gives me a crazy sense of hope, wrests power from despair. I think that people have not changed that much; I think of how we are connected more than divided. There is peace too, a letting go, an expansiveness to be had from these reminders that life and other people were here before us and will be after, that we are neither the beginning nor the end.

9 thoughts on “This too shall pass

  1. Hello from gloomy Manchester. What a lovely blog, I shall really enjoy following your adventure. And pictures of Skegness make me very jealous!

    I know what you mean about the hope that comes from the presence of the past. My PhD kind of deals with that, in the calm that comes from holding in your hand a small insignificant object that still bears the traces of ownership and use from many many years ago. The momentary sense of connection with a life lived long ago, even when you know nothing else about it, is very grounding.

    I do hope I can wangle a trip to Lincolnshire before too long xx

  2. I knew it was you from what you said about the PhD! The Bronze exhibition at Royal Academy in London was amazing in that way – figures made 4,000, 2,000 years ago but recognisably like something somebody might want to make now – connections across the ages and across the globe – such a sense of perspective – taking one outside the tiny concerns and details of day-to-day life in the present – by connecting with that tiny detail from the past.

  3. I agree about the past and especially old buildings being so comforting, I am getting much more interested in history, especially the part of South London where I live, and it is almost like a comforting skin, that you are moving a path so many others have gone before. great writing.

  4. I have just finished reading Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell. Set in Manchester in the 1840s, it documents the extreme hardship suffered by factory workers in the city and is very geographically specific, naming streets I know well. It feels like being haunted. My relationship with this city has been rather up and down over the years, but I do love the traces of history that are visible everywhere when you start to look.

    Struggling to convince Peter, though, who thinks history the most boring subject in school. It’s wasted on the young. Or is it just the way they teach it?

    1. Yes, Mary Barton is a fascinating book for that reason. I read it long before I went to live in Manchester, but it meant much more to me after I moved there. I remember early on going to work with a women’s health group in Ancoats and trying to picture it as it is described in the opening pages of the book.

  5. I know that feeling! Going back where you spent so many years but feeling like you don’t quite fit there any more. But you found the word that eluded me. Imposter! Imposter! I expect people might turn and point and shout it out at me. But they never do, the feeling is mine not theirs. I hope.

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