Yesterday was my birthday, and I decided that writing is my salvation.

I’ve come down with a strange viral infection of the lungs and have been miserably uncomfortable for more than a week. My birthday’s the day, I decided, that I would do for myself anything I wanted to do.

The day began with a very lovely lady (no, not that type) coming to clean my home. That’s right – the birthday treats of the aged and sickly involve paid cleaning. The flat was impressively spotless afterwards, which vastly alleviated my mood.

The next thing I did for myself was to revisit a much-loved old book. I picked Bill Bryson’s Neither Here Nor There for escapism, humour and gentle dose of wistfulness. (The book is about Bryson’s travels through Europe, which is: What I once did in my youth; and where my beloved is currently living.)

I spent much of this reading time alternating between my bed and various other spots in my newly-cleaned home. I even sat in the TV room, something I have not done for nearly a year, and was overwhelmed with emotion for what used to be my favourite spot in the flat. I sat around on the couch, and even at that uncomfortable but picturesque wooden desk and chair set in my study, drinking ginger tea.

While I did all these, my cats followed me around like homing pigeons. It was unspeakably wonderful.

The rediscovery of my own living space was heartbreaking, especially with the knowledge that my time here was running out and also that moving out was, essentially, a moving on. New life and new fears.

The tick-tock terror was palpable; it stuck in my throat, punctuated with the almost merciless crawl of the sun rays across the window. NO, the present is NOT yours to hold. NO, it’s now 4pm and soon it will be 5. NO NO NO now it’s 5.30.

And so I turned to writing. Actually, I didn’t write anything down. I sat, immobilised in whichever homely receptacle I happened to be in at the moment, and composed long, soothing strings of words, putting to metaphorical paper my useless protests against change.

It’s official: writing staves off death.


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