I knew it

The bag of compost was £7.99. I knew I could carry it home, as long as I left my gym bag at work, a place where I’d found myself drifting again. I was reminded of the pain that comes when you drift away from what you wanted while you’re in it. Projections of naivety take you over and you wonder if you’ll ever know what’s best for you. All I ever wanted was to be free. And the practice of self-compassion tells me to show love to myself even when I feel like I made a big mistake. But it was hard to think about that when I pulled the bag of compost off the counter. It was heavier than I expected. I thought about my left shoulder, the only shoulder that I put my bags on. Even backpacks are unlucky enough to be slung over it. On my right side I may carry another bag in my hand. But sometimes I won’t even do that.

While the sense of my decisions continued to play in my mind, I envisioned my journey home. It was a warm June day so I was open to walking; it never really phased me. But I knew it would be a struggle by the time I reached the station. Yet as I stepped out of the dark shop into the best open air that London could provide, I found myself walking. An image of myself sitting on the train with a heavy work bag carrying a laptop and a notebook I scarcely used with a bag of compost from a shop in Old Street beside me plagued my mind. What will I be thinking about? I asked myself. Probably this. Probably an ache in my shoulder and the smell of a long day that was bound to surround me. A plan to shower when I got home that I may not commit to. An assessment of the fridge and consideration of a home-cooked meal. I won’t have the energy. The thought was interrupted by people in lightweight clothing, sunglasses and sandals breezing past me as I trudged against them. I had sunglasses in my bag but I didn’t feel like I should wear them. You have to be in the mood to wear sunglasses, they’re a feeling. My AirPods told me that it ‘gets better with time’ and I wondered what ‘it’ is. I wasted a whole day.

Back home in my mind, I will close the fridge door and lie down on my bed, fighting thoughts that I wasted another day, and because of that, I am a waste of space. Here, I passed over a zebra crossing. And I adjusted the bag of compost in my right hand. I had to loop the handle because it was too long, still hoping no one would move my gym bag at work. Just like I did in my November existentialism, I wondered just how many of the people walking past me went through something like this. Probably most of them. There, I will stay in the position I fell into on my bed, and scroll for a bit, in search of an immediate laugh to remind myself that things aren’t bad. Here, I finally made it to the train. And I settled in a spot I knew I would find. It sat for a while. I’m always a bit early. I breathed out, ideas of what home would be like in an hour dissipating as I grounded myself with where I was.

I knew it. The bag of compost sat beside me, an attempt to take some joy home with me. Though all it really was, was a bag of compost. Tomorrow I’ll buy an actual plant. I wanted one today but I didn’t know how I would carry it. The train left the station as I leant my head against the window. Another unremarkable day. At least this story was something to remember. I hope.

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