Of things lost

This is difficult to put into words... I'm not even sure I can do so properly but I'll give it a shot.

This past weekend saw a get-together of old pals from late Primary School days, around 25 years ago or more.  Before we all hit High School, formed cliques, got snarky and grew apart.  We physically went our different ways in life at a good point while we were still kids - and picked right up where we left off.  Primary School reunions vs High School reunions - give me the former any day.

We've kept in touch through various means, mainly Facebook stalking, so we have a good idea of where we are in life and who we are.  Some of us are related - married-in family.  Some are friend-family from barefoot days, and some of us had parents who dated their parents before they dated our parents.  We've known each other since we wore polyester gym shorts, ran free and didn't give a flying.  Before crushes and conflicts and teenage angst, when we were all just kids.

Getting together this weekend was simply jumping back into our kid days relationships, where everyone was who they were and no-one tried to fit them in a box.  Some are still staunchly religious, others brought their beers and smokes, many are somewhere in between.  No-one really cared though.  It was just lekker to be together and catch up.

We've all gone different directions in life.  Not one of us has not had a kak time at some point.  One lost a child, one a parent, one a brother, two have fathers with Parkinson's, one has a mother so ill she can't travel, one a sister who is barely keeping head above water, many have parents who have split and remarried, all our parents have aged dramatically from those golden days and it scares us collectively.  We have vegans and carnivores, offspring and not.  Our kids are older than we were when we last saw each other as a group...

And yet we haven't really changed, not deep down. Scarred but alive, doing adult but still kid-crazy.

But there are things lost.  And sitting with this group of wonderful people made me realize that I've lost something important.  Something which some moaned at me about.

I used to be arty, creative, I used to write and draw and make music.  I had a fantastic imagination.  I was the chick with glasses, outside the cool circle - but hey, we all were, and it didn't stop us.

That creative side of me has disappeared.

Firstly arthritis - piano playing gone.  Also no longer playing in a church, and church stuff is about all I could play.  The last time I tried to play the piano my fingers were stiff, striking keys painful, and that muscle memory of tunes rusty to non-existant.  If I were to turn up to play in a church now, I wouldn't know the current songs - I didn't know them the last time I went to one.  What I knew well is long outdated and no longer used.

Then there's the art.  It takes time - I don't have time.  You can't whip up something in 5 minutes and go "tada!".  Nope.  I slapped some paint on a canvas a year or two ago, but haven't finished it and don't like it.  I have other blank canvasses staring at me daily.  It also takes money - unless you're painting with mud and sticks on the nearest road.  I don't have money for art - there are other priorities like food and shelter.  And I don't have inspiration.

Writing?  Also takes time.  I used to blog prolifically.  Now it's smatterings, and those I actually fear to publish because I've lost my Michelle voice.  Other than talking to clients bloody constantly (and craving silence when I don't have to), I don't say much either out loud or on paper - storytelling and creative writing are gone, along with my voiced opinions and beliefs.

Creating cool stuff?  Also disappeared.  I have these half-formed thoughts of fantastic things I want to make - thoughts that die like a drought-blasted potplant before they can grow big enough to bloom.  It feels like my brain is full of cottonwool.

I used to sew, I made many of my own clothes, household decor - heck, I even embroidered.  Now my sewing machine is hauled out for fixing stuff only and Mr Price Homeware is my friend.

Even the creativity of crafting beauty in a garden is gone.  I can only glance sadly at my overgrown jungle as I rush out to work each day, and hope the few things hurridly thrown in the soil survive a weed onslaught plus neglect.

I looked around at my beautiful friends this weekend and felt that loss.  Where I've shrunk creatively and personally, most are either making a career of it or incorporate it so thoroughly into their daily lives that I'm completely jealous of what they are able to do.  There's a deep beauty in them that I'm missing, that radiates straight out of their souls, a "me-ness" that finds its voice in things I could never even imagine doing.

I keep telling myself "one day when I retire I'll be creative again", those tiny sparks that still try to surface now and then will grow to an unstoppable flame.  But I'm not sure this is like riding a bicycle.  I fear that it's a use it or lose it situation, and that I'm now so far into the lose it side, it's not coming back.