In short: this place feels like an oasis, a safe harbour, a home after months of none.
Longer: I have a history with shared spaces I refuse to apologise for; white women are a lot of unpaid work; I was not meant for such things as tools but I am determined, evidenced by the building of several pieces of furniture and being proud despite how much my body hurt, and for how long afterwards; holistic experiences of life and the soaring misery and glorious joy of the human experience are the only way forward and I don’t understand those who choose the soulless banality of not doing that; imagine not caring about someone’s backstory – it could never be me; the big windows let in a lot of light, which makes me happy because the nights have been dark for days; I don’t feel like just a visitor here anymore and am ready to claim this city as my own (which means knowing shortcuts); the mattress we purchased is one of the most comfortable surfaces I have ever laid my body down on; he is so much happier, I think, I can see it in the line of his shoulders, which sank and loosened; there is a fine line between happiness and contentment and most days it’s both, here in this quiet little haven.
When everything was hell and burning, I was reading Ben Okri’s A Way of Being Free, which I borrowed on a whim from the library and now cannot imagine not having constant access to. Most morning coffees were spent in the garden of the Airbnb flat we were staying at, lingering over an entjie and words that felt magical and relevant, a quiet instruction on how to be at a time when being felt so adrift and untethered.
Thinking back on the last few weeks leaves me weak with a combination of incredulity, pity and utter boredom. Edinburgh’s month of festival — of art and music and dance and performance — feels like such an incongruous setting for the continental shifts that were taking place in and around me, and yet between all the wondering, the bereft-ness and the loneliness, there was that: nights spent soaking up creation and delivery as easily as I swigged back sip after sip of whiskey to keep the chilly wind and wetness at bay, feeling deliriously in love while hand-holding and walking, eating pies and discovering the most more-ish potato crisp I have ever put into my mouth. I cannot not feel incredulous. A part of me will always pity those who grasp after imagined shams than revel in the wholeness of a moment, in all its sides and all its ways. And be bored with their explanations for why, their false logic and gargantuan narcissism, the constant prattling that serves nothing but their desert wasteland of an agenda. Shame.
It feels like I forgot the earth-shattering strength of relief, though. It’s still working through me, loosening muscles I didn’t know were tight, unfurling parts of me I didn’t know were coiled. And in its wake comes the settling of Edinburgh, finally. A burgeoning “hello, I am here” from me that is finally ready, at peace enough in its stance, to listen to the whisper of “good, I am excited” that this city throws back. Relief is like recharging, a re-balancing of my levels (shooken as they were by small minds) and every morning in this flat, my adorable little safe harbour in Stockbridge, it feels easier to breathe.
I’m not smug enough to think that the toughness is over (related: me and Stu about to be really, really broke) and certainly don’t have the wherewithal to confidently say that I am fine. But the importance of safe spaces has really been driven home for me since my arrival in Edinburgh, and so I am grateful to finally have one to call my own, that answers to nobody but the people who exist in it. Saving grace is the term that springs mostly readily to mind, but somehow I feel like there was nothing graceful about the saving. It was kind of in great jarring sections underpinned by flights and flights of stairs that whole lives had to be carried up and down. But after, when all the saving was done and the bed had been built? Yes, there was grace there and even though it tripped a little bit when it settled, it felt like a well done. For keeping my cool. For not rising to the baiting. For trying to generate lightness when it all felt so heavy. For remembering that some people never think about themselves, and some people dangerously always do. For the lessons. And finally, I could lie there intertwined with Stu and let it all go.
Unrelated (or perhaps not): I dyed my hair green because hair grows back and even though I am a Ravenclaw, blue is just not my colour.