In two months time I will be turning 30. I’ve had all kinds of hot air balloons of ideas floating around in my head about how to talk about it on Ameezing. Looking through some old stuff yesterday I stumbled upon this little piece that I wrote about three years ago. The beginning of learning to let go, of quieting the voices of self-doubt and fear. The starters in the feast of personal freedom and letting go –
I stand and look at the courtyard. The size of a prison cell but leafy, shady and unashamedly friendly. A courtyard, the courtyard, my courtyard.
A pot of lavender sits defiantly on a wrought iron stand. Refusing to be like all other pots of lavender and wilt at the first sight of harsh conditions. This lavender, my lavender, is a fighter.
When you are regrowing your life, everything symbolises something. A shiny new kettle screams defiance, the shaggy, cream bathmat winks strength, that velvet scatter cushion oozes courage. Everything becomes another letter in the crossword of a better you.
Right there, staring at my little pot of brave warrior lavender, I get it. I understand what no amount of movies staring Ryan Gosling, no amount of cappuccinos and crying, no amount of new hairstyles could ever teach me. Seventeen across, eight letters -“word for a huge, life changing lesson”- . Thisisit. This is it, this is what we have. Right here, just me and Napoleon the lavender. Like learning that putting a tv on the side of the bath is a bad idea, once you have this knowledge, you can’t go back. It becomes your responsiblity never to watch American Idols through a mist of bubble bath ever again.
I was in a car accident at college. A bad one. One of those where Will Smith comes running through the flames carrying a little girl and her smouldering teddy bear. I was sleeping in the passenger seat when the driver lost control of the car and slammed on brakes. We rolled and bounced across the highway and landed in the fast lane, facing the opposite direction, on the other side of some very densely berried bush. I was pulled through what was left of the window by a very kind man watched by his Fanta drinking Combi load of relatives. I was wearing a new pair of shoes, and as my shoe came through the window, the top was scrapped by some broken glass. I sat on the side of the road, face paint smears of blood and berries, looking at the crumpled wreck that used to be the car and all I said again and again was “My shoe, my shoe!”. Sarah Jessica Parker would have been proud.
A sense of dread and guilt stayed long after the neck brace, Mickey Mouse plasters and sympathetic looks had gone. At the time it felt terrifying, overwhelming, too much. I was no Oprah, no Bono , I had nothing on Kofi Anan. I was no more alive than I had been before careening across the highway. But your ride doesn’t become a tumble dryer on tar for nothing, it felt like it mattered more.
But this time, Napoleon the lavender and I came to the same place, gently, a ray of sunshine parting a cloud. Instead of dread and guilt we, Napoleon and I, felt relief, a lightness. Sometimes a peanut butter sandwich is way better than the prawn souffle’. Most of the time, infact. The actuality that now is what we have can be an incredibly freeing notion. Should be.
Strange things courtyards, those funny in between areas, silently sunny yet underestimated, the middle child of home spaces.