Cavan is a gorgeous county, the constant change of light is fabulous, the fiery pinks, the opaque greens, the cut glass blues. The autumnal woods and forests weave magnificent spells of red, orange, yellow in jewelled mists, and the lakes loom mysterious or rain down from clouds, watching, like glinting eyes.
Yes, I live in a handy place (close to town and to country) so my walks around can lead me past shop keepers standing in their doorways, trying to sell stock from behind a desk, town parks with huddled ominous looking teenagers in the distance, smoking and drinking cans or I can amble out into the above mentioned wilderness. indeed, this year Cavan has been the centre, not only of my Ireland but my universe; Sadly, the problem was it was only peopled by me and however hard I try, I cannot provide myself with everything I need. I am not witty enough to come up with the sparkling repartee and banter I enjoy, and even if I do cast the odd comment, the radio doesn’t respond.
During these days, there was always something to do: read, write a poem, walk the dog, paint a picture, play piano, bake a cake, prepare the dinner, watch TV, do a puzzle, zoom, do Duo Lingo (I’m in the top 1% in French) though I quickly gave up on the crosswords. But, however much I did or do, in lockdown, I feel like I’m doing it while moving through treacle.
I came to realise how much time I spend of my life planning – planning outings, arranging journeys, scheming appointments – and how much time I spend enjoying looking forward to such events. It seems my sense of self is formed by these excursions. I am someone. I am going somewhere. I have an objective, a meaning. When I am not able to do them, my sense of self esteem collapses, and I am not woman enough to pick up the pieces. Treacle takes over. And I wade. When one wades one loses clarity, the sharper definition of one’s life disappears. When I become a ‘one’, I lose individuality. I feel as if I have moved into Beckett territory and I don’t like it there. I think Beckett is best kept on the page.
So, as we headed towards the end of lockdown at the end of November, I started scheming. I was heading to Dublin. I was going to see my daughter’s new home, I was going to spend a weekend in Limerick with my son. But I was nervous. Driving, I was alert, planning my reasons, rationalising my justifications in case I was stopped by the Garda. There were masks in the glove compartment, in my bag, in the doors, behind the sun visor. Having arrived, I breathed a sigh of relief. When I first saw my daughter, I burst into tears. I held her tight, surprised by the sobs racking my body, and then I realised she was sobbing too. Our stomachs were heaving into each other as I clung to her. It was then I became aware that however much I was isolated, I wasn’t alone. While hugging and sobbing, I could feel the colour seeping back into my veins, and I couldn’t let her go until I was full of her purples, blues, whites and pinks.