Nostalgic weather: when it’s very green and very damp and you think it should be getting dark by now but there’s still pale blue light when it is time to get into a hot bath. The leaves aren’t tired summer leaves, but have just burst, sharing space with dropping blossom. The whole sky seems lower and shared, not something impossibly high up. When there are crystal drops hanging from the trees but it is dry enough for the birds to start singing.
Two years ago my best friend wasn’t my best friend. She hadn’t helped steer my life back to a saner course yet. She was just a really really cool girl I had English class with. I remember that summer it rained a lot, but not grey drizzle—it was like green rain. When she invited a bunch of her classmates to her family’s farm, I didn’t, I wouldn’t, I couldn’t go. I sat in the car with my legs firmly on the ground outside—I did that a lot. Driving felt a bit like drowning. I wasn’t in control. The only things that made me cry were Jane Eyre and my exam results. The former, a warm burst drain. The latter, squeezed ice. But the day after I didn’t go to the farm I sat on the back step and watched the rain bounce down the roof and the air was fresh enough, the rain loud and hard enough, to make my skin tingle and the blood in my veins flow again. I had so much fear that I had no idea what to do with.
The next year she invited us again, and this time I didn’t even try. I stayed in the bath and tried to cry instead. By then Kathleen had helped me—a lot—and I felt bad for myself and for her. For myself because my anxiety didn’t allow me to go, and for her because we were close and I knew I was hurting her. That’s when I began to realise that proper connections with people do not just involve your feelings; the other person’s are really important too. That awareness that this world contains people other than myself burst my bubble—in a good way.
Recently it’s become simple to look back on those times and think, I am better. If there is something I want to do, but it is hard or it is scary, I increasingly think, Do I want the kind of life where I can…, and the answer is always yes. Do I want the kind of life where I can drive to the farm where my best friend lives even though the bathroom only just got a door and still has no lock? Yes.
And so I did. Last week me and Mum drove to Kathleen’s farm through a massive pourdown. As we drove up and higher and further away from our town, I could look back and see the houses engulfed in a grey misty cloud. I thought I owed this to Kathleen, but also to the Naomi of last summer and the Naomi of the summer before. While they stayed at home feeling sullenly stagnant, they also stayed mildly hopeful that one day it wouldn’t be such a huge problem to do what was so impossible before. ♦