Sun on your back, you stretch
in grateful receipt of its flare.
Blue sky, smile at the reprieve
from the grey. Inhale, long
and deep, graced with life.
It's Friday afternoon in the Meadows,
and the mood is as light as the breeze.
Such afternoons in the Meadows have an atmosphere. People are there in ones and twos and groups. Musicians play and sing; the sporty throw frisbees, kick footballs (soccer balls for the non-British); the contemplative meditate in stillness or gentle movement. Dogs delight; children run across that vast green; cyclists and joggers circle the green on the criss-crossing paths; readers stretch on the green or sit beside it on benches. Today only a few fast walking people with work-like purpose, and in the corner playground laughter and tennis court action.
And me, walking some of those criss-crossing paths at a steady pace, slow enough to take it all in and be present, faster than a stroll. I covet the turreted ancient apartment blocks, pass a couple of families several times on their wanderings, watch a woman in white stop and capture the moment, clearly enjoying the day. Perhaps I could have brought a book, or a job application to write, sat in the sun on the grass for a while. No, I am here to move, I have been sitting all day.
Perhaps it would be nice, thought, to have someone to share the moment with, laze with in the sun. For a moment, I lament this singleness. I do, occasionally, get lonely, wish I wasn't solitary. Particularly it seems in seasons of challenge or uncertainty. Am I reaching for someone to hang onto as I feel as though I am drifting? It is hard to know which friend to call, when you're not even sure you want company. I realise again that it is hard to be a PhD student in summer, when the rhythm of semester and teaching and seminars is missing, and the study room empties into holidays and language courses in France and Germany, conferences and visitors and festivals. It is hard to be a PhD student finishing, preparing to let go and submit yourself, your work, to the vulnerability of examination; trying door after door for a place somewhere for when your place as a post-grad comes to an end. It is hard to be planning for home but not able to buy a ticket yet, with still so much uncertainty, not knowing how long you'll be staying or how long you might need to rely on the generosity of family before standing on your own feet again, because I will go home broke.
All this as I walked in the dappled sunlight on paths through the Meadows, amongst the people gathered there creating the atmosphere of a pleasant, lazy, Friday afternoon. Although the current challenges were thus present with me, the walk did still manage to open my lungs, release tension from muscles, and warm my literal and figurative heart. Here's to walks, then, and to sunshine and blue skies and the collective sigh of people enjoying the moment.