I can almost hear it today, the boomerang’s whoop-whoop-whoop-whoop (like the sound a kereru’s wings make). And everything going eerily still as Tom – the only one who can move – tries to fix things.
As I sit here, I can hear through the open window the sound of the family in the downstairs flat. My granddaughter sounds like a cheerful, tumbling forest stream – a lovely sound. She has the prettiest of toddler voices. I could listen to her for hours. My son and daughter’s voices fall like intermittent leaf shadows on water. This is as close as all five of us at this address can get at the moment, as they remain in their bubble and we in ours. Knowing it’s not permanent makes it okay. We can still communicate through windows and glass doors. We can hear them and they can hear us. So it’s fine. For now.
I’ve had occasion to go through old photos in the last two days. I like peering closely at what can be seen in the background. The wallpaper, the plant in the corner … things that project the flavour of the time. How the memories clamour! I especially love the candid, unprofessional shots – those Christmas Day photos and beach photos that weren’t always carefully arranged. The photo taken of people leaving in their car. The ones when the shutter was pressed spontaneously, without first removing the pile of washing in the armchair, clearing the table of used crockery, or making sure the street background included a nice plant. No selfies. No posing. The photo shows what the present reality was, right then, without any prepatory measures, or arranging. I scan the precious photo closely for an expression, body language, background detritus … anything the photo offers that will provide me with farther clues to bolster the hazy memories of people, places, parents, grandparents or any older extended family members, now long gone.
The past is all very well, but it’s the present that is coming down heavy on us all right now. It reminds me of a popular children’s television programme when I was younger. Called ‘The Magic Boomerang’ and featuring a boomerang that when thrown, caused time to stand still. I can almost hear it today, the boomerang’s whoop-whoop-whoop-whoop (like the sound a kereru’s wings make). And everything going eerily still as Tom – the only one who can move – tries to fix things.
I am finding the days have a steady rhythm and are passing quickly. I thought I was going to have heaps of time to do stuff – like write and read and research, but already we are halfway through! and I’m nowhere near achieving what I was thinking I could achieve. At least I’m not bored. I was looking forward to wall to wall uninterrupted time. Bliss. I thought. I’ll get heaps of writing done. I thought. But I fear I’m frittering the time away with distractions such as old photos, answering emails, some spring-cleaning (in autumn?! I know … ) making corn fritters for lunch, whipping cream for a sponge we’ve had lurking in the freezer forever, going for a daily walk, watching Netflix (well, nothing new there).
Maybe all these distractions are because when it comes to it, wall to wall uninterrupted time is in fact rather unappealing. Just beige-time. Pretty much blah. Our Prime Minister was asked what she misses from the ‘outside world’ and she said, ‘People. I miss people.’ It’s simple really.
Being an introvert who usually seeks a quiet life and doesn’t warm to ‘going out’ and socialising, it’s hard for me to admit that yes, I do miss the ripples people cause in what would otherwise be a tepid millpond life. All a still body of water produces, after all, is algae and slime. I’d wager that pond life creatures would not be great companions.
As for the future, well It’s going to look a bit different after a month-long (or maybe longer) full stop, but I’m sure we’ll still recognise it.