A woman I once worked with (who happened to be my boss) had an 'eternal balance' theory of weight loss and gain. I was losing weight efficiently back then, going from sad end-of-relationship fatty to lithe 'come-and-get-me' singleton, through nightly sessions at the gym and a fruit-only day every week. She, on the other hand, was swiftly heading towards a breakdown, with a Scoob and Shaggy-sized appetite for biscuits and snacks.
According to her, there were a set number of fleshly pounds in the universe, and, for every kilo lost by a dieter or exerciser, someone else would gain a love handle or two. At the time I resented the implication that my own success at toning up was, in a karmic kind of way, responsible for her rapid expansion. But it's possible her theory has some basis in reality. Not when applied to weight gain - handing kilos from person to person like a lardy game of pass-the-parcel - but to the vicissitudes of life that one individual has to face.
My friend Jean Hannah Edelstein blogs movingly about the vicissitudes. Life is made of ups and downs,
and for every joyous moment, there's a crappy
one waiting round the corner, primed to ambush and denude us of our
recently won happiness. If the theory of eternal balance stands, I like to hope that I got my run of bad luck out of the way earlier on in life. But it's more likely that these fluctuations in fortune happen within the microcosm of a day. Take today, for instance. Here is a breakdown of the shit that (literally) went down.
Up: we're lucky enough to be getting a loft conversion done, so our house will be big and lovely, and we'll be able to see more of friends, who will now be able to stay with us. The build is moving along rapidly, with no delays so far.
Down: Gwen is poorly. She's been clinging on to me so desperately that my arms are now quivering with some kind of baby carrying-induced delirium tremens. The frantic banging and sawing has terrified her and she's been awake for most of the day.
Up: this morning we booked a holiday to Andalucia, to escape most disruptive stage of building (ie when the builders forecasted they would be smashing a big hole in our ceiling and installing the staircase).
Down: the builders accidentally broke through the ceiling today, spraying dust, rubble, nails and (probably carginogenic) insulation material into the hall, onto drying washing, and on top of mine and Gwen's heads while we walked down the stairs.
Up: our cleaner, who normally comes this morning, and who was so late (5 hours) I'd given up on her ever getting here, miraculously appeared at this point, like a Henry hoover-wielding good fairy.
Up: it had been drizzling all morning, but (pretty much exactly) when the breakthrough happened, the sun burst out, so we could escape to the park.
Down: as soon as we left the house, Austin suddenly developed some explosive tummy bug, which meant we had to turn back half-way to the park because he'd soaked his trousers. Changed and dry, we finally made it up to the swings, only for him to (badly) soil and wet himself again, after 20 minutes of chasing round the sandpit with a new friend.
Up: by the time we'd made the dirty trudge back home, the builders and cleaner had left, leaving the place all beautiful and spick and span, as though none of this had ever happened (apart from the plastic-bag type contraption stapled to the huge hole in the ceiling).
So, in the end, it was only the acres of poo that I had to deal with. If that's the toughest thing those vicissitudes throw at me for a while, I can live with that.