Monday, September 05, 2005

Summer ends. And it's been...memorable

Well, most people are back from their holidays. The days are still warm but the mornings are crisper. The flowers in the garden look faded and blowsy. Massive spiders appear in the bath. Summer is almost over and it's September now. Mist settles over the city at night. Winter boots are in the shops and tweed suits but people are still wearing sandals. People are starting to look fed up though, of their tired summer clothes.

I can hardly remember the start of the summer.

In May I left the company I had worked at for six years. They were good to me when it all went tits-up in 2002 and I nearly died. I stayed there, recovered, paid what I felt were my dues for their support of me. But it wasn't the same. I wasn't that happy. Was very successful externally, made them a lot of money. Lost a lot of my confidence inside, put on 25 pounds. When it was time to leave, when people made offers, I was paralysed with fear and self doubt. I thought about whether to move to New York or Australia, to a small creative company or to a big media firm where I had worked before.

I can hardly remember what that time felt like now.

I lost 2 stone by recording what I ate. I started to paint my toenails again. I didn't see as much of my friends as I wanted.

I ran and co-ran a successful series of dance courses - three times a week - and my students all discovered a wild and sexy side of themselves as we performed for each other, shrieking and clapping and hollering like banshees.

John and I planted over 40 pots and hanging baskets of flowers and crammed them into our little back yard. We worried about the mysterious leak under the bathroom floor.

I saw my hero Sylvie Guillem dance, astonishingly, something I have wanted to see for 16 years. I saw some good theatre but not as much as I could have done. I drank a lot of cold rose wine. I made some new friends. I read the newspapers and watched the news a lot. I read 47 new books and re-read 24 old ones. I was invited to 4 weddings but could only get to one.

I started my new job and I loved it. My confidence and my energy rose and rose. I bought a new suit and new clothes for work and to fit my new slimmer body, that was stronger and more supple from dance classes. I wore colour again. I wore rose-scented oil on my brown skin. I ate sushi, debated on the internet, got on with my new colleagues, was excited and emboldened by life. I cheered when we saw the celebrations in Trafalgar Square and I went to celebrate the successful London Olympics bid in a pub with my workmates and my boss.

I got on a train the next day and I thought I was dead for a few seconds as the world exploded and then I thought I was blind. Everything stopped. The world was reduced to darkness, smoke and an endless scream.

And then everything started again. But everything was different.

And I'm different now, but not totally different. I'm more relaxed about the small stuff, and more confident, tougher. I'm not scared of people any more. I notice things and I'm much more aware of people around me. I found my voice and my confidence and my leadership. I lost my sense of humour for at least three weeks. I stopped being interested in trivia, banter, games. I became even more interested in politics, a news-junkie, a passionate debater, a bolshy, strongly-opinionated woman. I couldn't bear to listen to music. My tolerance broadened but my anger sharpened. London felt less safe, but it suddenly became my city, I began to love it fiercely. I was hugely lifted by the support of my fellow Londoners, by the people on the train, by the kindness and the dignity of the people I met. By the compassion of strangers.

Everything shook, exploded and then knitted together differently after July 7th. What look like cracks and scars are where things have joined up again, stronger than they were before. I wear the unseen tattoo marks of experience with pride. Sometimes they ache, but they are part of me and what I am.

Summer ends, and the world turns, and the nights lengthen, and the sun cools, and the flowers die. It feels like years and years have passed in months. As the air changes to hazy blue gold in the morning and the leaves fall and in the soft light of September, the spiders webs hang shimmering over the geraniums, I'm glad that we're leaving summer behind.

Seasons change. I've changed. Welcome, autumn.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Rachel (hope you don't mind the over-familiarity), I still read you blog and it still brings a lump to my throat. You are right, you have changed, you can see it in your writing but, to me at least, it looks like a good change.
You have dealt with all the bad hands that life dished out and now you've come out stronger. I would like to think I could do half as well, but hope I never have to find out.
It was a real pleasure to see pictures of you and see such a warm smile a put a face to a name and a person that has touched me so deeply.
You've let us all into your life and shown as your deepest, personal feeling and I can't think of anything to do or say in return. All I can offer is to say, enjoy the rest of your life (but it sounds like you intended to do that anyway).
All the best, Gary

September 07, 2005 11:43 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would like to say Thank you for your writing, I work and travel to London (not underground) but you have helped so much. I think you have been very brave. I wish you all the best for the future especially with your job. You are right it does not seem months ago but years. Take care.

September 07, 2005 9:32 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Gary has hit the nail on the head and expressed exactly what I was thinking.

Thanks for sharing everything with us Rachel and I hope you can be of inspiration to others.

September 09, 2005 7:54 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


To echo most of the comments here thanks for everything. Your writing has helped so much and I wish you all the happiness in the world.
S x

September 10, 2005 10:52 am  
Blogger marydw said...

Dear Rachel,
It was my ex-mother in law that brought your blog to my attention. I feel I ought to know you, but sadly I don't. I know of you and the hardships you have had to endure over the past few years. It makes my own difficult times seem so insignificant.
You're a true survivor Rachel, in every sense of the word.
You have to know that your family are very proud of you. My ex-mother in law is your aunt, Joan. She told me of your experience this morning and we both cried.
I wish you every happiness that life can offer and a peaceful future.
M x

September 11, 2005 9:49 am  
Blogger Rachel said...

Thank you for dropping in everyone.

I am honoured and touched that people still read my diary.

And that family members are reading it too, wow!

Really, thanks, it means a lot.

September 12, 2005 10:47 pm  
Anonymous Dave said...

I'll echo what everyone else has said. There is much for the rest of us to learn from you Rachel, both in your attitude to the events that happened to occur to you, as well as in your poetic lyricism!

Keep it up.

September 14, 2005 11:17 am  

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