We’d passed the time of day before, said hello, nodded, that sort of thing but never actually properly spoken to him before. We’d gone to the wasteland (now our wasteland) to sit in the sun and he came along with what looked like a large bag of garden waste. Where’s he going? he said, watching him head towards what he calls ‘our little dell’ (though we’ve not yet been down there). Probably to empty the bag, I said. We greeted him when he returned. He has a nice face, open and friendly. Though he has two grown up children, I’d say he was in his late forties, sporty and fit, he bounces a little as he walks. I’ve watched him often. We can see their house below us, the lawn he cuts lovingly every weekend and now the bench he sits on at about 11.30 am every day with a cup of tea. He’s as regular as I am. I do my yoga then and can see him as I do. Do they watch us? We exchanged names and talked a little of the situation and of their neighbours who have since left. They were a little distant, he said. These were Elephant’s parents, do you remember me telling you about them? We thought they might be part of religious sect that discouraged mixing with ‘non-believers’. He told us where he worked and what he did, which makes our supposition perhaps a little less likely, but you never know. It’s nice to know their names now. He makes me feel safe. He looks capable, kind. I wonder what he does. He is less worried about coming across as nosy then I am and asked all sorts of questions. A common cultural attachment exists between them after all. He had a real local accent, he said, could you hear it? They are very Welsh. She is a diminutive woman, who loves the sun. She’s as brown as a berry now. I am interested in people but I try to hold back. Let them be. We saw our nearer neighbour yesterday on our return from the dump. Over a hundred now she does look frail. Do you think she is thinner? I asked him. She may be failing, he said. It was strange this new rule of standing away. It feels awkward, rude. She did it and so did we. One tries to be friendly at the same time but the body language belies the smiles.
I lay in bed struggling to sleep and fretted over the situation. How will it be once it is relaxed. What will normal feel like? How will it be to return to work? Will work be open to me? It is hard to find out what one wants in this stasis. Let it be then. Just be here in the present, breathing, being alive.
A misty morning, not unpleasant. And I am feeling a little better. My tastebuds are beginning to reawaken. I am grateful.