Moments of Delight #1

Nov 22 2021

Holly Stoppit
Image credit: Holly Stoppit on top of a windy hill by Sarah Smith

If you've been reading my blogs, you'll know that I am living with grief these days. My partner Joe moved out four months ago and grief moved in. I'm no stranger to grief, we've known each other a long, long time and we've become even more familiar over the last four years while my ex-partner and I tried in vain to make a baby.

As Joe was leaving with the last of his stuff, grief barged through the door, heaving an array of boxes and trunks and suitcases, all full of tears. We've been having a fine old time together, my grief and I; having carbohydrate parties and sleepovers where we get to stay up all night and think about EVERYTHING and having the saddest karaoke nights ever, warbling along to Joni Mitchell and Carole King, the soundtrack of my childhood. Some evenings we just sit around, opening the boxes one by one, splashing around in the pain and the disappointment and the love and the loss.

It's hard work, this grieving business, but it feels like the right thing for me to do, to welcome it, allow it and trust it to show me what I need to see.

But I can't do this all the bloody time!

I have incredible friends who are keeping their beady eyes on me and dragging me out for food and walks and ringing me up for chats, and I have many things I do to counteract my time with grief. One of them is reading The Book Of Delights by Ross Gay; a gorgeous collection of autobiographical essayettes on the theme of delight, written over the course of a year.

Inspired by The Book Of Delights, I challenged myself to write about a moment of delight every day for the whole of November. Far from distracting me from the grief, connecting with my delight has been helping me to replenish my strength and determination to keep going through what could be described as one of the hardest parts of my life to date.

I shared a few of my stories on facebook and got some lovely responses, so I'm publishing them on my blog for all to see. Enjoy!

Uphill Sausage Rolling

I'm going on an adventure and I'm carrying too much stuff on my back. I don't drive and yet I've managed to travel the world in this peculiar fashion, like a disgruntled turtle. Every time in the lead-up to a big adventure, I plan to travel light and every single time, the last-minute panic has me ramming the heaviest stuff I can find into my bags, just in case.

This time is no exception. I'm on my way to see my dear old friend Sarah. We found a point on the map, halfway between where I live in Bristol and where she lives in Derbyshire and we've rented a tiny redbrick cottage in a vineyard near Ledbury for a weekend.

I'm walking to the train station with all the food we might need. It makes absolutely no sense to be carrying the ingredients for butternut squash risotto, fancy breakfast and cheeky snacks through the streets of Bristol, up and down flights of stairs and on and off three trains, when there are shops in Ledbury. But that's what I'm doing, because that's what I'm like. I mean, Ledbury might have run out of food...

I've got far too many clothes on for this mild autumn day and I'm sweating my way up the ridiculous never-ending multi-level ramp at Stapleton Road station (look, it's great that there's a ramp for many reasons, but I sometimes wonder whether the designers were having a laugh with their excessively long and winding path). There's a girl, aged around 5, earnestly kicking a sausage up the ramp. I'm impressed with her commitment and nod to her dad, saying; “That should be considered a sport for the next olympics.”

Much as I'd love to, I can't stop, the weight of the luxury snacks is cutting into my shoulders. I climb the ramp mountain, head over the ridge and scale down the stairs at the other end, finally setting my bag down on the platform, hastily stripping off layers of wool and stretching my poor aching shoulders.

Eventually the girl and the dad come down the stairs and I ask “Did you do it? Did you kick the sausage all the way up the ramp?”

The little girl shyly hides in her dad's coat, so he answers: “Well, we couldn't believe it but we found another sausage halfway up, so we started kicking both!”

“Wow, did you get them both up the ramp?”

“We were doing really well, but then a dog came along and ate them!”

“Oh no!”

“That dog over there!”

“Well I guess you could say that the sausages made it up the ramp, but inside the dog.”

-Friday 5th November 2021

Oh and if you were wondering, the risotto was excellent, made with the wine from the grapes of the vines outside our cottage. Oh and the holiday? It was just what we both needed; we walked and talked and laughed and cried, the picture at the top of this blog was from the day we scaled a windy hill at dusk and shouted loudly while the wind blew the cobwebs out of our heads.

If you'd like to read some other Moments of Delights:

Moments of Delight #2

Moments of Delight #3

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