February 2nd is my mothers birthday. She would have been 103 today. I woke up this morning feeling cosy in bed and thinking about how she loved to stay cosy in bed in the mornings. It made me feel very connected to her. That and all the books and notebooks and diaries and letters that were around her bed. I am like that too. I don’t usually feel similar to my mother so it was a nice way to start the day.
There was music outside so I got up and dressed and went up to stand on the balcony and watch the first runners passing on the final part of the Mitja Marato – half marathon. A small band had set up on the raised stage on our little square and the street was lined with people clapping and cheering.
This could have been Bonnie’s last day – I wasn’t sure but it was possible and so I was feeling a mixture of intense sadness and tense foreboding. The music was exciting though and I wanted to do something to celebrate the day so I went out to buy cakes.
I find the marathons very moving. Every year I surprise myself by starting to cry as I watch all those different and ordinary people running along with their vulnerable humanity so visible.
Staggering, red faced, smiling, gasping, floppy arms, sweaty faces, young, old, in groups or alone.
It is as if all the world in its incredible diversity is streaming past me. Such effort, hope, despair, pain, joy, confidence, friendship, determination……. you can go on and on and there is no end to it. Imagine if we put that effort and love and human power into changing the world!
And the people who cheer them on are also part of the spectacle. It is one of the things I love most about being here – people really get animated and shout encouragement – Venga! Molt Bé! Muy bien! Bravo! Que falta Poc! They really get involved and today I felt the energy that was passing between spectator and runner. Every time the music paused, the clapping and shouts got louder. Children put out a hand for the runners to touch as they passed – another way of sharing energy.
I have learnt since being here the importance of groups and community. The way you can give and receive support just by being with caring people. I come from a more individualist culture and have a tendency to go it alone, but here people really understand the power of groups. I like that. But still I have that British self consciousness that makes it difficult to join in and call out with gusto. I want to be able to do that and suddenly thought – this is something I love about here and I won’t leave until I can do it! I want to be like the woman next to me on the street this morning, she was alone but it didn’t stop her calling out to all runners who were flagging ‘Well done! Almost there! Go for it!”
This must be the third or fourth time there has been a half marathon passing our house and it has taken me this long to realise that I love them and I want to spend the morning watching the runners and the musicians. Why have I never planned for this day and invited friends round for breakfast so we can hit the streets together and see them set off, follow the route and then be there for the end then go for coffee in a bar? Next year – this is my plan. Next year I will not stand there alone with tears streaming down my face, clapping awkwardly and longing to shout “Anims! Molt Bé! Venga!!!!”
And today was NOT Bonnie’s last day – probably.