Moments of rightness

There are moments when I am wiping away dust that has accumulated on my bookshelf or underlining a very beautiful sentence like: “in this way their lives were caught up in this moment of rightness. And any chaos or discontent was brought to a point of stillness and calm” from Diana Evans. Or moments when I am filling my wooden tea box with bags of mint, fennel, camomile, and Darjeeling tea that I wonder how they are so complementary and fitting, how the bags of herbal tea will all occupy different mugs and keep me company on different evenings and mornings and be a moment of ‘stillness’. I look around and think about how, there are, so many, dream-like moments of ‘rightness’. 

I have been, for as long as I can remember, the kind of person who worries about how long these moments will last – I talk myself out of existing in moments like this for too long out of the fear that they will disappear or that I’ll have formed an attachment

I think about what Diana Evans wrote, in describing a photograph of a moment and wonder about my own moments of rightness that exist amidst the chaos I have always known. I don’t mean to be abstract here, it has just become more difficult to write with a sense of privacy but I will continue trying. More recently or rather, in adulthood, I’ve started to realise that the moments exist beyond short, fleeting moments. There are now, parts of my life that are in some ways, a separate world. 

There is a significant body of research about the emotional impact of code-switching that people from immigrant families or ethnic minorities and working-class kids in ‘the city’ face. I’ve begun thinking about how the ‘code’ is sometimes a separate world of its own and how, when I am coming back home after a trip away or logging off from the day of work – I am leaving one world and entering another. Often, there is no time in between and we move seamlessly (or so it seems) from one world to another. 

As I’ve begun WFH and in a more unfamiliar industry to my parents I’ve been thinking about the impact this all. How do I translate the world of work when we have lunch together in the middle of the workday?

In May I went to the soft launch for my short story which is being published. (You can purchase a copy here). One of my best friends accompanied me and we met up with a friend in Bradford afterwards and had tea. I signed copies and did a live reading of my story. I met people who have read my story and been some of the first readers of this work, they told me they wept, they told me that what I had written, touched them in some way. And everything about this evening, and the morning after in the very beautiful Yorkshire, felt like a retreat from my life and the life I know. It was like stepping into a world I had written except I was no longer an observer or dreamer of this part. Amongst the multiple hues of existence I had dreamt for myself, one of them had just been created in front of me. 

In celebrating my writing achievements one core memory stood out to me. In secondary school, my English teacher lent me a copy of Jhumpa Lahiri’s Interpreter of the Maladies and said something along the lines of: ‘I think one day you will write like this’. I was too young to appreciate the beauty of Lahiri’s work and don’t remember reading much of her short stories then. I came across a second-hand copy of Lahiri’s stories at a book stall years later and bought a copy. I ended up writing about Lahiri a few times at university and fell completely in love with her work. My English teacher has now ordered a copy of my short story to read, she still teaches English (I am envious of her students) and is now on the other side of the world, but she will be reading her former students work. I know that life is full of circles, I am so grateful to be able to witness one of mine. I look back at formative memories like these and feel lucky to have had and to remember transformative moments. It also makes me miss teaching and my experience working in a sixth form. 

It makes me think about how many moments of rightness will appear. About a month or so prior to this moment in May – I worried about security and stability because I was unemployed. I worried about how much of a burden I must be to my parents to be hopping between jobs in such a short space of time. I realise now that I have the things I had once worried about and my work experience, academic accolades, and the network I am now a part of, is a form of security and stability. In that time of unemployment (which was undoubtedly, one of the best decisions I had made) I realised how much of me still carries fears from so many years ago and how much of my self and the worlds I exist in, I compartmentalise.

We all have or play different roles, we perform, we present, and we just are. We compartmentalise parts of ourselves and bring them to the forefront when it is time. I wonder if that sometimes makes us feel disbelief in some of our parts and roles. Will the roles – or the worlds, ever become one? I often feel like I am glimpsing at different hues of my existence and dreams depending on my company. 

I am researching and writing about social mobility this week at work – I will be for the next few weeks, and I am, as I often am, struggling with the duality of researching and writing about something that is so important to me and coming across stats and research that are upsetting to read. Am I writing as one of the stats in these pieces, am I writing anthropologically or academically? I’m not sure how helpful these questions are either and it proves difficult to articulate these at work.

For now, I have decided that one way I will process these feelings and combat that sense of the two worlds I feel like I am straddling or existing in, is to write – to continue to write, it has always had a grounding effect for me. 

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