This morning I caught myself buying a newspaper, not to keep up with events beyond Nowhere (it’s all too easy to forget that the rest of the planet exists when your world extends only to the horizon) but to check the answers to yesterday’s crossword.
It’s sparked a little existential crisis. Or at the very least, a crisis of purpose. Surely this crossword puzzling Sudoku addict can’t really be me? The same me who back in my office days (only four months ago) was so focussed and busy that forgetting to have lunch was the norm. The same me who went to meetings, working lunches… on business trips! I had responsibilities, deadlines, opinions. Now I get a thrill if I manage to complete the Futoshiki before my children wake up from their lunchtime nap.
I’m wondering whether this life I dreamed of for so long can really sustain me. Not in a practical sense – we are adjusting to the reality of having lost our primary income with something close to equanimity – but intellectually. The crossword can be pretty challenging but where is the rest of my cerebral energy supposed to go? It’s not that I feel that my brain is a mine of untapped genius, it’s simply a need to exercise the muscle, to shock the little grey cells. It’s one thing to take the plunge and become a ‘stay-at-home mother’; it’s another to do it in Nowhere, with no friends, no family and precious little culture. This must be why people start writing novels.