I have been here many times before. I love how crisp the air is, and how the wind swishes around me; like it is enveloping me in a comforting hug. I watch people from here blindly weaving through the crowds. They look like ants from where I stand, and I feel in these split seconds I know them; and yet they know nothing of me. Sometimes I stand here for so long the weather and skyline changes. It has often felt the season could have changed. The golden sun slowly rises and peaks out from behind the buildings, whilst people negotiate the space around each other, wrapped up heavily against the cold. Empty roads fill with people starting their day, and the hooting and revving engines sound like a mere whisper from where I stand, while planes seem an almost deafening affair, like they can rock and shake me from where I stand; but yet they never do. People float past behind me, coffee in hand and the financial times tucked under their arm. Most of them just walk quickly by, barely looking up. Some wish me a good morning; they don’t direct their gaze at me, and I don’t turn to them. The beauty of this place is both a blessing and a curse.
I come here whenever I can; it calms me. Everything in my life is planned down to the last second with a new schedule placed on the fridge at the start of each week. I am never late. I never forget a birthday. I never mess up. I am never wrong. I plan my outfits two weeks in advance and I never change these plans. I weigh myself every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at precisely 7.30am so I am in total control of my weight, and I have a detailed detox plan on the fridge in the event of any changes. I will never have to use it.
Breakfast is always an egg white omelette with steamed spinach, lunch is a small garden salad with tuna, and supper is chicken with steamed broccoli and Quinoa.
I power walk into work in my special be-fit trainers, and I allow myself to do one crazy thing a week, should there be something I wish to do. Last week it was a colleague’s birthday; I don’t know her name, but that doesn’t bother me. I have managed to work here for 10 years without learning anyone’s name. Who has the time? She had made me a chocolate, gluten free, wheat free, soy free, peanut free, vegan, muffin. I gave her a forced thin smile and placed it on my desk, but she waited until I took my first bite. It was disgusting. I’m not allergic to anything, but it is a great excuse to get myself out of eating the food packed with fat that they gorge on daily. I allow myself two black decaf coffees a day, and I’m in bed at 7.30pm every night. I read for 15 minutes and then the lights turn off (literally, all the lights in the house are set on a timer) and I have a restful 8 hours sleep with two pillows and a goose down duvet. People tend not to warm to me because they think I’m uptight; I am even the least favourite of my parents children and I am an only child. However, everything I do is to avoid the manic, uncomfortable, scratchy feeling that comes with living with a lack of order.
I was engaged once, but he left me before the wedding because he “couldn’t live his life this way.” He wanted to be able to live more spontaneously. I said of course we could, just put it on the fridge first…a week ahead. Apparently he disagreed with this suggestion. It was when I sent out the wedding invitations that he really lost it. I had provided a schedule that planned every minute of the day and stated that late comers would be turned away (fair enough)……..by bouncers. He hit the roof when he read that, but by then it was too late. He kept shouting, ‘Bouncers? Bouncers? BOUNCERS?! Have you lost your mind?’ It took him just minutes to pack and leave; I was devastated, but then I noticed he had clearly written on the fridge, 1 O’clock dump Sara. I can’t believe I had missed it.
So standing here is the only calm I have experienced without staring at my fridge. If I’m honest sometimes I have nightmares about being buried in my lists, and more often than not I hurtle down the steps in a semi-conscious state, torch in hand at all hours of the night to check I have put something on it. I lied when I said I always have a restful night’s sleep. I haven’t slept properly in years; my lists are taking control of me. My need for structure has left me alone; I have tried visiting restaurants in the early evening for a coffee to be around people, but when they aren’t there to greet me with a warm hug, kiss and a squeal of delight, I have never felt more alone.
That’s why I love being here, it makes me feel happy and weightless. The endless possibilities; the peace but the noise. I’m finally free and floating now. I will continue to always watch from here. My list is complete.
Pippa Alexander is a published author; she enjoys reading and writing flash fiction and only stops when the phone rings, her supply of tea runs dry or her family comes home. Pippa is currently writing her first novel and in her spare time she loves reading, writing, baking and spending time with her son, husband and puppy. Find her on Twitter @PippaAlexander2