Mental note to self. Try not to walk before you can… Erm… Walk.
No. Wait. That’s not right. There’s no inbeteeen. I need to walk.
Suddenly flushed with yesterday’s success and on my way to meet my brother I decided to not use the car park right next to my destination, and instead try to park outside Leamington Spa and walk approximately a mile to my destination at the Fat Bird’s Cafe.
Everything is burning and my chest is pounding. I’m currently perched on a bus-stop seat knowing that I have gone further than half way (too far to turn back) and worried that I have also got to make my way back to my car after I’ve eaten lunch.
It’s an odd sensation to feel trapped in the open – and maddeningly all of the fences surrounding me are internal. I could theoretically go wherever I wanted. If only I could put one foot in front of the other. Which for the next few minutes I can’t.
Ok. Enough typing. Legs are recovering. I have 8 minutes to reach my destination. I hope to heaven that there’s a free seat.
(Walks on a bit)
Ok. Legs burning again. There’s a bench outside Boots. I sit down again.
A partially crippled white haired old lady with a walking stick ambles past. I note that she’s moving about the same speed or a little faster than I have been.
Opposite the bench on the other side of the road is a reflective shop window, and I can see myself in it. I look beached and hot.
A child walks past with her mother, focusing intently on me. She then innocently stares at my stomach until she’s too far away and can’t walk forward and turn her head far enough back to see me without tripping herself up.
(I don’t like being stared at so I get up and start moving again, this time until I arrive at my destination, which mercifully has a place to sit at a table that I can fit into.)
Well – I’m seated now and the lunch menu seems to be a litany of poor Slimming World choices. But they have wifi – so I can be a hipster and blog about the cafe while I wait. At least the universe has one of my basic human needs catered for.
After some scrutiny it seemed that the one redeeming dish on there was a Chicken Ceasar Salad. I’m not sure how much the syns are in slimming world terms but honestly I think I just burned off a bit of salad dressing so I’m not going to stress about it.
I order a pot of earl grey tea and check my texts. My brother caught a later bus and he’s 10 minutes away.
(Time passes, people arrive, conversation ensues, catching up takes place, handy technical hints are shared about WordPress and we eat.)
My sister in law is hungry and has ordered accordingly. Full English breakfast.
Tomato and marscapone is soup of the day, and her past experience of it means it’s a no brainer. That will be her starter.
I’ve always loved the way she eats – and it never ceases to amaze me when I plate up a Sunday dinner that would end most people my size that my 5ft 2 Indonesian sister in law nails every last bit and clears her plate. I’ve no idea where she puts it.
She’s never failed to make me smile in this respect and it’s always a pleasure to cook for someone that loves what you’ve put in front of them.
Strangely today though I don’t want to eat what she’s eating, and there’s not a hint of envy in me. It would just make walking back even harder and I need to keep it light.
My salad is quite nice. The chicken is perfectly done (nice and moist) and the leaves taste fresh. The thin shavings of Parmesan are the first I’ve had in a long time, and the nutty flavour complements the black olives dotted around the bowl.
Plus with a pot of tea my salad is quite satisfying.
I feel oddly quiet at lunch though, and I don’t chat as much as maybe I normally would. The cafe is not very full, which doesn’t help – and my thoughts continually drift to my impending walk back to the car.
It’s getting hotter and the sun is out. It’s now after midday. My shirt is pulling a bit around my waist and I’m uncomfortable on my chair. It doesn’t fit my bottom very well and I keep having to re-adjust my position, which has put pressure on my knees to stop myself from sliding forward. I pull myself closer to the table so my stretched shirt buttons fall below its surface and can’t be easily seen.
No-one is looking at me or judging me but I feel visible.
Shortly after we individually visit the toilet, pay the bill and begin to leave.
We say our goodbyes.
(I start to walk back to my car. One of the benches is full on the route and I have to carry on to the bus stop. When I arrive I am breathing very heavily and my pulse is racing.)
Ok. I’m waiting here for a while. Screw walking. I need to slow my breathing and wait for my thighs to stop shaking.
It’s nice being in the street though. Like yesterday in Solihull it feels like I’m part of the world, or at least now I’m peering over the wall of it to see what’s going on.
Opposite me is a shop window that’s selling some naff looking Sony headphones for £50 and a couple of the cheap but handy lifestyle cameras that sporty types strap to their heads when jumping off dangerous things.
It occurs to me that I haven’t stopped to look in a shop window for a few years.
Actually I haven’t walked up the high street of anywhere for years.
If it didn’t hurt so much at the moment I’d be proud of myself – but I can save that for later. I need to reach the safety of my car. That’s my sole focus.
(I get up and walk again. After one more short stop sitting on a wall in the park at the top of Leamington I make the final leg and reach the door of my car.)
Ok – I did it. I’m shaking all over, my heart is racing and I am taking loud, deep breaths to try and regain my equilibrium.
This lasts for a few mins while I sit with the air conditioning on full and the engine running.
I don’t care about people watching me to see if I will move from the parking space. I can’t start driving until I’m breathing normally and I’m not trembling any more.
But I did it.
I made it back to the car.
I’ve never written all of this down before, and I’ve never shared the experience of what it’s like for me to go to a cafe and sit down in the company of others. It’s not as simple these days as ‘just doing it’.
It’s not ALWAYS like this, but at the moment it’s very difficult when I decide to step outside my very limited comfort zone.
But screw it. Screw anyone watching me and screw anyone judging me.
Next time dear Internet this will be easier and next time I’ll feel a little bit better. You will see the progress.
You wait and see.
For now I’m safely back home and I’m just going to quietly sit in my cool, dark living room with a glass full of ice and Diet Pepsi.
I will also take off my socks.
In a minute.
Not just yet.