It’s probably a bit weird that the current thing that springs to mind when confronted with the sentence ‘write about the time you felt most alive’ isn’t some distant, hazy memory from years ago that brings back fond memories of friends and experiences that I cherish but rather is something that happened about a week ago.
I didn’t even know that it would come to mind when I thought about the sentence as a concept but yet the second I finished reading the words it was the thing that swept its way to the forefront of my mind and in doing so reminded me of how hugely my priorities have shifted over recent months and how, although unexpected, oddly welcome those changes have been.
The memory comes from something that could almost be called a typical Sunday, although they don’t really exist anymore. Before it was just sleep, football if it was on, food, gym if I could be bothered and then prepping for the week ahead before more sleep. Now I’m slightly at the hands of children who sometimes love the quiet and just entertaining themselves and sometimes they want nothing more than to run around a park at as high a speed as they can before they fall on the grass and complain about the fact that they are too tired to ever move again, before they promptly jump up like they’re on springs and run over to the empty swings that have spotted.
This memory takes place on one of those Sundays. It started quietly enough, the psuedos were quite happy to eat their breakfast at the table in quiet as Nix and Mia were still asleep and I was feeding Hayden. Or more accurately I was watching Hayden try to feed himself but enjoy making a mess more than putting the food in his mouth so I had to intervene. It was with the clang of cutlery on plates and a loud sigh from Lydia that I could sense that she was already bored. When she started dragging her feet along the kitchen floor to put their dishes in the sink and then sighed again I knew I was right.
Before they had a chance to act on their cabin fever and take their boredom out on the house I suggested that we all get ready and head over to the park. I went through the motions of getting Hayden ready and then myself and then patiently waited for the psuedos to reappear ready to go, which took all of five minutes after I had sat down on the sofa. I stuck a post it note onto the fridge for Nix and Mia and then off we went.
Lydia and Scott were quick to walk slightly in front of me at all times, occasionally running off in some kind of race but never running out of sight. Hayden grumbled along and then fell asleep pretty sharpish as we walked. When we reached the park after about 15 minutes Lydia and Scott rushed off to the empty swings. I kept walking around the path as the motion seemed to keep Hayden asleep and watched them swing back and forth excitedly.
It took 10 minutes for them to get bored on the swings and then they became lost to the real world and entered one that was all their own. It was as they tore off away to the top of the slide to inevitably make it their home base for some sort of game that I never had any hope of understanding that I drew to a stop for some unexplained reason and learned that Hayden had been lulled himself into a deep, deep sleep which was not going to be affected anymore by whether or not he was in constant motion. I sat down on the closest bench to me with Hayden’s buggy next to me as I rocked it ever so slightly. I’m not too sure how long as I was sat like that, just watching Scott and Lydia escape from the top of the slide, navigate round other kids to do some sort of mission and then darting back to ‘their spot’ on at the slide. What I do know is that I watched the park slowly fill with more people and I eventually stopped rocking the buggy and took an odd sense of comfort from the fact that they still had each other and their imaginations in all of this. And I do know that when a shadow turned into a body that fell onto the bench next to me and instantly rested its head on my upper arm with a mumble of ‘don’t speak to me until I finish this’ and the smell of coffee came with it and as a pair of arms wrapped their way around my shoulders and a kiss was pressed on the crown of my head, signalling that Mia and Nix were out of the house but not necessarily completely with it just yet that everything around me felt right.
And it felt like everything had fallen into place for the first time in my life in a way it had never felt before. I felt alive.
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