by Harriet May
My morning routine goes something like this:
At 5:30 my Fitbit silent alarm wakes me up and I ignore that it’s so early and crawl out of bed. Then I either go for a run or do some weights or HIIT or something or I write. And then I watch YouTube while I drink coffee and eat the least inappropriate breakfast food I can find, like hummus.
Yesterday I run four miles along the canal past the sleepy barges. I read their names and think about what I’d call mine if I had one, but I can’t come up with anything better than ‘Die Hard’ which is my favourite so far. It feels a long way from Charlotte N.C.
When I get back I cast a video of Toni Morrison at the New Yorker Festival to our TV. She is talking about her father:
“One of the men who was a child at the time and grew up in that little town said that my father had seen two black men lynched on his street. They were businessmen. They had little stores and so on. And so he was 14… But I think seeing that at 14, not the murder of some terrible person, or the lynching of some bad person, but the lynching of two neighbours, and I think that’s why he thought that white people were– what did he say? Incorrigible? You know they were like doomed.”
She is talking to Hilton Als and they are both chuckling and enjoying themselves and it makes them, both of them, even Hilton Als who is not saying anything, engaging to watch.
“But, listen to this, he went back to Georgia every year to visit family. And my mother, who thinks of her days in Alabama as sweet, lovely, with the woods and the flowers and my aunt this and my aunt that… she never went back. Never.”
And I don’t much like Charlotte N.C. but I have been back three times in the two years I’ve lived in London and I’m so grateful I’m able to, politically and financially. At the moment Sam and I are also watching on YouTube a documentary series about a family escaping Syria for Europe, and it’s heart wrenching, they just want what we have: work, a home, to be somewhere safe and together. They can’t move freely through the world, not right now.
I can move wherever, however and it feels like a lot of luck.
UPDATE: I decided what I would call my canal boat if I had one: Mary J. Barge.