Thursday. Full-on tears, sobbing, from the kids — our night-time ritual protracted to around 11. The onset of hormones with Lily, Charlotte tags along for good measure. I build our first fire of autumn, the top floor of our Edinburgh flat, even write a poem about it it’s so good, use up all the wood, burns down unnoticed.
We take the free walking tour to see the sites where JK Rowling wrote Harry Potter, where she wrote graffiti on a marble bust of Hermes in an expensive hotel, announces she’s just finished the book with a Sharpie, now cordoned off by the hotel as a special suite, £900/night.
Our guide is wearing a cape, hands out wands and a spell to change the traffic lights from red to green, but the magic takes a while to work, he says. Looks like his hair was purple at one time, just now starting to fade.
We start in the graveyard behind the tavern, Greyfriar’s Bobby, a muddy walk to the far corner — all of it, the old stone buildings, the grave markers, that same bleak look they captured in the films, as if rubbed in soot. And that’s what they used to do when they went out guising for Halloween: just rub ashes on their face, no costumes.
I wash my socks, the jacket Charlotte got car sick on, find a kiosk on a side street to get some help with our SIM card — give the guy a bro handshake when we’re done, hook my thumb around his and squeeze.
And then I call back home to our friends who are renting our house out, Chris got laid off but starts a new job in January, his first Monday not working but still felt like a normal Monday he says, getting up early, getting the kids off to school, going to the store.
And today, the sun rise around 7 from our bay windows, the top floor of this flat, the colours remind me of the view from my office this time last year, that intimacy shared with co-workers when the sun rise surrounds you, sometimes remarking come look for a moment — and it would set the time I’d log off, half-past four, and they’d stay on another hour or so, and leave in the dark.
JK Rowling gave herself a year deadline to write the book and hit it, as a single mom, had just gotten married and moved away to teach English as a second language, came back to her sister in Scotland when the marriage fell apart, got the idea for the series on a train from Manchester to London when there was a delay, looking out the window at some cows.
The morning gulls are flying toward a large cloud that’s advancing in the east, swallowing what might be a star or a planet, and the sky is going from pale yellow to blue, the reverse of last night, and the calendar opens to a new pane, a fresh chapter to save, rewrite, or forget — all those functions necessary to survive.