Whenever I arrive home after being out, I can’t sit down ’til I’ve done certain things : –
1. Put my shoes in the shoe place.
2. Put my keys in the key place.
3. Put my bag in the bag place (removing phone and glasses).
4. Taken my rings off.
I put my rings on whenever I leave the house. I’ve worn them for so long, I don’t feel quite dressed without them. It’s always the same in the morning (after I’m clothed, obviously) – perfume, handcream, rings. Ready to face the world.
It’s made me think about routines, how many we have and how they say a lot about us. There are usually reasons for them. For example my job – share likes the whiteboard on the left as it gives the children more space to get into their trays. I don’t like it there; it’s in front of the desk and makes me feel shut-in. So the first thing I do on a Wednesday, and the last thing I do on a Friday is move the whiteboard. The other day, I noticed the beginnings of a groove in the carpet. The groove tells a story about my claustrophobia. But no one would ever know that unless I told them about the whiteboard. (Obviously they do now.) I wonder how many times I’ve moved that whiteboard?
When I think about it, life is full of routines.
I take the throw and cushions off the bed before I do my teeth.
I always start the car in first.
I always cross the road if there’s someone behind me. Not somewhere like Oxford Street, obviously, or I’d be zigzagging like a demented crab, but in a quiet street like ours, where it would be rare. I’m careful not to do it obviously. First I stop and rummage in my bag or pretend to tie my shoelace, then I cross over. I don’t know why. I just don’t like the feeling of maybe being followed.
Do you ever get bored of your routines?
Once, a long time ago, I got bored with my voice and decided to experiment. I went to school with someone who had an Irish accent. She had a very commanding voice and when she spoke everyone listened, even the teachers. I tried that for a while and pretended not to notice when people looked at me oddly. Then I became friends with a Geordie and found myself speaking like her. But my favourite experiment was the time I spoke with a dimple. I mean I don’t actually have a dimple, but I knew someone who did and I was fascinated by the way her mouth worked to accommodate the dimple. So I decided to make my mouth move like that. Perhaps I’d develop a dimple of my own? I didn’t. I did however get my top lip caught rather painfully in my brace.
Sometimes we long for change, for a bit of excitement, and then it happens and we don’t like it. I was seriously ill some years ago. This was not the kind of change I wanted, but we can’t always choose. People were kind, concerned. Every time I saw or spoke to them, they’d ask about my health, make a comment about hospitals or share a time when they or someone they knew had been ill. They were trying to relate, to be kind. But all I wanted them to do was to talk about nothing – the weather, or work, or knitting . I longed for simple routine conversations, the stuff of normality.
But one day I swear I’m going to come into the house, kick off my shoes, throw my keys on the table and tip my bag on the floor. Or go out without my rings on.
Just, you know, to live on the edge a bit…