6. Flip Flop Girl in a Wellington world…

Pru the pup is downstairs sitting on her sister’s lap. Pru should be upstairs in the office, and her sister should be at school. Pru’s human sister is feeling unwell. Should I have let her sister stay home? Is her human sister stressed or coming down with something? These questions float through my mind, but I tell our daughter she will have to decide whether she should stay home for herself. Only she knows how she is really feeling. I feel anxious because I almost always felt nervous at school. Monday to Friday was one big stomach ache. I hate the idea that our daughter might be feeling that way too. When is soldiering through the best choice and when do we need a break?

Pru isn’t anxious. Pru is quite happy. Her sister is home, and she has an extra human to snuggle with on an otherwise normal Tuesday. It is beautifully clear and bitterly cold. The war rages in Ukraine and the cost of heating our home, as we once did, has become unaffordable. The Ukrainian flag flies from the top of our village’s church bell tower. This warms us and sharpens our resolve. For the last couple weeks, the girls sleep in their room snuggled up under lots of blankets. A space heater has been placed in their room for morning and evening use. They can get dressed and ready for school and brush their teeth before bed in a warm room. This matters to their Florida mama. I am always cold and this winter is proving a test of my ability to wear layers of clothing that feel uncomfortable but warm. My hatred of winter boots and itchy heavy wool sweaters knows no bounds. I long for light soft summer clothes and flip flops. I am a flip flop girl living in a wellington world. The sky is clear and blue. I rub my permanently cold hands together for warmth. I try and focus on the winter sunlight and the beautiful glistening frost. 

The word ‘focus’ makes my mind wander to yesterday when Pru and I were driving to our daughter’s school. We found ourselves behind a semi-truck on the country lane. The back of the truck had a large picture of an eagle soaring in the sky. Eagles always catch my eye. Eagles, a noble scavenger. President Roosevelt was opposed to America’s symbol being an eagle. He wanted the symbol to be the North American brown bear, the Grizzly. I can see his point. The eagle soars in front of us on the back of the lorry as Pru snoozes in the backseat. The bold words written around the eagle state, “First class travel…it’s all about focus.” I wonder what that means. I follow the eagle as it soars down the country lane. My Shot from the musical Hamilton plays on the car stereo via the algorithmic snake of Spotify…Scratch that this is not a moment, it’s the movement…

I follow the eagle as My Shot plays. A mile later the lorry turns left and heads up the lane canopied by English oaks. I think about a book I have been reading Act of Oblivion by Robert Harris. The book mentions the ship Prudent Mary. The ship carries two hunted regicides, men who’s signatures are on a king’s death warrant, safely from England to the American colonies. Colonies that are still under British rule, but only just. Prudent Mary…no one names a ship after a word that conjures ideas of caution, like a puppy hiding under her bed. In 1660 Prudence meant something different than it does today. I drive on to the neighbouring village where our daughter’s school is located. Prudent Mary sails to freedom. Eagles soar under English oaks and Lin Manuel Miranda’s poetry dances in my head. Pru snores in the back seat. Teddy Roosevelt’s words come to my mind, The worst of all fears is the fear of living.

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