When the weather breaks, I dream of the horses. In my dreams I am ageless; the horses are a dream of my past and of the future. Petrichor fills the air and when I run my hand down her withers she is reassuringly solid beneath my touch. I know that my mind is healing because when I ride in my dreams, my balance, my communication with the horse is no longer fractured; my body flows into her body as though we have been melded, as though we are one.
Mornings these days begin at an hour that Kirsty and I used to consider bedtime; the world is bathed in blue light and the birds are optimistic. When the children tumble down the stairs, the baby is still sleeping beside me. She stirs as I pull her back into my arms, her mouth opens like a baby bird. My breastfeeding relationship with Vita is instinctive. Before Vita, the turbulence of navigating twin babies were all that I knew. And I love, and am grateful for, them all equally – but Vita is a harbor. She has given me normalcy, and a security in myself as a mother that I had previously lacked. As I feed her, the children crowd around, vying to make her smile, to laugh. There are days where I find it all too much, the competing sounds, the movement, when I have only just opened my eyes, but on this day I embrace it, drifting in and out of sleep beneath a pile of children.
We take my mother and sister on holiday. It’s a strange role reversal, a coming of full circle, and it feels good to be the provider. Although my mother and my sister have holidayed together many times since, I have not joined them since I was a little girl. They laugh at my militant timekeeping, but I am clutching at the itinerary as though it is an adult’s hand, as though it might gather me up and keep me together. One night, after I put the children to bed, Kirsty takes charge of Vita whilst my sister and I sneak to the water park. My sister is groggy because I have woken her up, and I am hysterical, giggling as I tighten the halter neck on my swimsuit in anticipation of the rapids. We take the flumes in order, starting at the gentlest. There is one on which we ride together, in a rubber ring. The attendant pushes us into the tunnel and, travelling backward, I see my sister’s eyes widen and her mouth widen into Picasso’s ‘Scream’. And then we drop. There are very few people whom I would trust to accompany me on a ride where a transgression from the rules on their part might feasibly result in a broken neck on mine, and though my sister might seem an unlikely choice to those who know her superficially, she is one of them. When we emerge at the bottom, my legs have given way completely and I have to wallow in the shallow water, swearing, until I can pick myself up and get out. We walk back to our cabin sipping slushies, hair dripping down our backs and tongues stained lurid shades of pink and electric blue.
On holiday, my mortgage broker calls me to tell me that there has been a complication with the application. We resolve that, and the bank loses the application completely. The resultant emotional agony lasts a week, but the news is positive: the bank would like to offer me the requested mortgage. All of a sudden, everything starts to progress at a gallop: contracts are exchanged, the vendors’ house plants are purchased and we have a date for completion in a fortnight.
Kirsty has dismantled the bed and we are sleeping on a mattress in the living room, surrounded by boxes. We have school places for the boys in September and the three-year-olds will start nursery; I’m afraid to say it in case I jinx it but everything seems to be coming together. It feels strangely grown-up to be buying a house in a way that having children didn’t; a bank trusts me with their money. We are both jubilant and exhausted, cheering each other on as we complete another form, pack up a room, book a moving van.
Seaside, we are coming for you.