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memoir: the bottom of the hill

Image by  Jonty

Image by Jonty

 

Hills and more hills as far as the eye can see.

On the outskirts of town, they ebb and they flow. Looking like a far off distant land you could easily explore and conquer like a Burke and Wills expedition.

Why is it you feel like screaming and crying and dying as you walk up a hill, wanting to stop every breath, every step, but as soon as you stretch your whole body and reach the top, you feel like a queen; an athlete; a champion! Adrenalin pumping through all of the pulsing, hilly veins inside. Wanting to feel this way forever. Hooked.

When my mum was my age, she had birthed and mothered four children. She was in the midst of a life running a household containing a 15-year-old, a 14-year-old, a 10-year-old and a 4-year-old.

She had at 37, already lived in a shack my parents had built with their own hands as newlyweds, on the side of a hill, in the middle of nowhere.

Their first year of marriage and they had no electricity, no indoor toilet, a new baby and snakes and spiders to contend with. She was 21. On the side of a hill.

They then went on and raised the rest of their brood, on a huge, flat, dusty property with a long, long dirt driveway. She handled it all bravely: the kids, the cows, the dust, the wheat crops and dad, worrying about the rain, the drought and making ends meet. Despite the flatness there, she could still look out across the plains and see hills on the horizon, warily keeping an eye on them – closer then she wanted them to be. She was focused on staying strong and keeping a household running, she had no time to enjoy ups or wallow in downs, so she kept charging on and planted her life firmly where it was flat.

I have wondered lately how she coped with it all? She did not have cafe dates with girlfriends, cocktails or book clubs, hiking or wine tasting weekends… or the freedom to throw a tantrum and hurl herself under a mountain of doona to Netflix and chill.

So it is her that I think about now, on the edge of that hill of hers. Her and that incredible strong will, as I face plant my bed and give up.

As I dig my way through all of my hills and tell them to all go to hell.

I am sick of the climb, sick of hurting as I scrape my skin from my legs – only getting half way up before I slide down again in the rubble and rocks and muck, sore from straining my neck to look up and see where I long to be.

I have had enough, so today I quit. I give up, resigning myself to the fact it is too hard to reach the top.

I am sick of the injections, the nausea, the headaches, the cramps, the negatives, the scans, the kind tones in nurses’ voices and trying to stay positive; more scans, more injections, turning around and pregnant bellies and newborn babies everywhere swirling around me, not knowing who I am or where I should be; up the hill, down the hill, round the hill? I am sick of the waiting. Waiting until I am suddenly told I am over the hill and it is too late.

So today I am going to just quit and surround myself with soft hills of pillows and bedding filled with feathers. Diving into doonas, hugging hot water bottles and a call to my mum today because the hill is shitty and she will tell me what to do.

Maybe next week I will feel like I can strap my hiking boots back on ready to go forth again. Maybe I will be surprised by how light those heavy boots suddenly feel.

Maybe by then I will look out across the Autumn afternoon and feel OK when I see those hills on the horizon.

Thinking about how at least I am not on the side of one of them, doing a wee in the dark.

 

First published on Till She Sings.

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