I try but I cannot really believe how blessed I am to be on the overland back to Wimbledon late at night, watching London in her evening gown.
Lost in my music, as my eyes drink in the city, I am calm. There is possibility. There is friendship such as I have had dinner with. It has become a ritual now, meeting beneath the giant clock for a dinner, a catch up with someone who has been pivotal in my life. It does not happen often enough to become a habit, so we meet filled with stories to be shared over a glass, or two, of South African Chenin as we pick up from before.
We sit, not inside where our voices will dissipate with the noise, but outside, high above, overlooking the masses as they wait at the board, hesitate and fly to the barriers to go home. We watch from afar, but turn to each other again. And I am humbled, by her, and myself. Two women who have been here, fallen and at our age, beginning again.
The waitress is young and keen but she sees older people. She does not understand the enormous effort in the beginning again. Both of us, in our Silver Street, starting at new jobs, spending days being told what to do, how to do it, and dreaming of the days gone where we instructed, nurtured and created our own paths. So we sip at the cup of corporate lives, bow down to routine and forget about plans for awhile. Yet, just being there, I know I am exactly where I should be. The women I know are like this; always challenged and forever moving on. Saying goodbye and looking back to gather the threads and then, turn to the city to bend to her rhythm. We choose to stay because this city does not age us. She does not judge and pity but challenges, teaches and offers her wisdom so that we may feel as empowered as we are. Women at my table of life, are smart. Powder their scars.
Our children have grown, our loves flown, but we are not broken. Whipped perhaps, but willows. The women I know are hoteliers, bankers, mothers, teachers – they are carers, secretaries, gardeners and preachers of promise. We are writers of our own stories. We laugh at the lines, we lament at the loss and my eyes grow wider at the tenacity of spirit of just never giving up.
We may not be dancing right now, but we dance with our words of encouragement and laugh as if the world were watching. The waitress says: ‘ Thank you for the tip, it is too much.’
We say:’ It’s all good. Go and call your mother.’
My walk away is stronger, my stature taller and I am at one with the bustle and thrill of it all. I am so in awe of the women in my life. My blanket of fuck the practical and quilt of emotional is good.
As the train flies through the city, the lights and a city that will get me crazy with options of success, I am anonymous, but I am never alone.
Sixty something, banker and dealer of life. I lift my glass to you and all those women who will never lie down and cry. Like my female muse, London.