On a typical Thursday at half eight in the morning, I’m sat eating porridge on the sofa at my work base, whilst mulling over my day’s tasks. I’ve usually ambled my way at leisure along the oak flanked lanes and grabbed the pickup truck, before rumbling into the woods whilst the birds are all still in full song.
Today however, I was growing increasingly anxious as I looked at the time on the dashboard of the car, as I crawled along to Kingston hospital, instead. Another appointment about my insides. I’ve had so many of those now that I sometimes wonder what my life would be like if I had come into the world male, instead of female. Would I still have long hair? Probably..
The congested roads hugging the big sullen grey buildings made me prickle and I knew I should have left earlier. By the time I arrived at the hospital, there was nowhere to park and my stress intensified. I was already fifteen minutes late.
Exasperated, I dumped the car on a cross hatched space at the end of one of the car parks and thought “fuck it, I really need to attend this appointment.” I sprinted from the car into the hospital and went through the usual rigmarole.
“I think it’s best you have another excision, just to be on the safe side. You can have it today under local anaesthetic or come back in a few weeks for general like you had last time.”
I asked how the local anaesthetic was administered and then recoiled in my seat at the thought of a needle going into my cervix.
“I’ll have the general anaesthetic again please”, I stuttered. I was still flustered from the stressful drive and parking fiasco, and now feeling a bit crestfallen as I wondered what might be the next course of action if a second or even third blast didn’t sort me out.
Hysterectomy? I shuddered again, and wanted to forget about hospitals and abnornal cells and scary words and get on my way back to work, where things are green and make total sense.
The drive from the hospital towards work was also slow, but I was less anxious and simply a bit fed up now. As I came off the A3, the traffic slowed to a crawl and my eyes drifted up to the top of the ugly high rise office block.
I wished for one of the peregrine falcons to appear and make the ugliness of the urban sprawl vanish in a wingbeat, and lift my heart higher than the huge hideous box on the horizon. Nature beautifies anything. A feral pigeon blustered about near the roof, and I wondered if it might end up in a puff of grey feathers at the talons of the falcon… Then I noticed the car in front way ahead of me and I shook myself from my raptor-reverie back into the traffic.
When I eventually got to the garage to get my truck for work, the morning had gone and the sun was strong. I felt glad of the warmer temperature.
As I left the garage, I was intrigued by a lady trying to usher something onto a clipboard.
“what you got there then?” I quizzed.
“Dunno, some sort of beetle. I don’t want it to get squashed! I can’t tell if it’s dead.”
I hopped out and on the ground was a shining green jewel.
“Aww yes, it’s called a rose chafer. Ah, I think it IS dead” I said, looking at the perfect creature with its limbs folded firm under its iridescent armour.
But then I thought an antenna wiggled slightly and I wasn’t sure. ‘I’ll take it and pin it if its dead, as it’s immaculate and will be a nice collection addition’ I mused. And anyway I’ll hold onto it gently so if it’s still alive, it’ll revive itself.
I felt a bit like the tired rose chafer earlier that day sat in the doctors office, imagining a needle going into my cervix. All these intimate examinations, surgeries and worries about cells made me want to curl up and hide under my armour too.
I drove away from the garage and into into trees, with the chafer still in my warm hand. I felt it start to beat against my skin gently and I smiled. Then it battered around in my hand and I wound down the window.
“You weren’t deceased, you were lost and scared in a weird concrete place with no green, and you were shocked. I felt a a bit like that today too”, I thought, to the beetle.
I opened my hand out of the window and the precious jewel buzzed into the woods. And with that little triumph, my heart lifted a little higher.
Later in the afternoon, I had just finished a short job on the heath and opted to spend a few minutes looking for snakes before moving on. They are like an instantaneous panacea, snakes. Even a brief glimpse of one in its natural place corrects a worried head.
But it was probably too hot for snakes already today. I didn’t see any. Or any log lounging lizards. I trundled back to my truck, thinking of my next job.
A busy fluttering danced over the brambles and alighted on a gorse bush. As it stopped, its brown flight turned to emerald perfection. One of my favourite butterflies, a green hairstreak. No green made in even the most vivid paint can rival the glorious shimmering colour of the underwing of a perched green hairstreak. I drank in its splendid tones. It tilted itself with the direction of the strongest rays of sun, its goldy-greens glowing all the more.
As it turned again and rotated itself, I noticed the large nick in its other wing. Likely a bird had attempted to eat it. One of the whitethroats scratching their songs in the brambles, perhaps. Or one of the ‘dweezing’ greenfinches.
The butterfly tilted again into the sun, and it still looked as glorious and proud as an unscathed one. It wasn’t tatty, inspite of its injury. I admired it no less. I gazed at it until it jinked away. Its buzzy flight was no less strong and determined for its missing piece of wing.
I wanted to be like that green hairstreak. Bouncy, bold and living in the strongest rays of light, whether I end up with parts of me missing or not. I’d still be me, just like the butterfly is still resplendent in its colours after a bird nips it. And I’ll be fine.