Archives for posts with tag: the weather

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Suddenly I’m in her room, that little narrow room over the gardens. And it looked down the road, over grey houses and all the doors had buzzers and I remember the little conservatory to the side and the place where she sat in the sun.

And the women called Janet who didn’t quite belong, played cards in the corner and we talked to her in those days. The days of waiting and sitting and I tried so hard not to let my feelings show but always failed miserably. And right now through my own window in this false world it all comes back and our son was a few years younger and we bought her the soft toy when the connections started to break.

And I’m sat on her bed, by the pillow while he played on the floor with his pens and we rearranged the photos on the sideboard in the empty competition with your brother.

And right now I have her fog and I’m trying to find my way out of it, swirling it’s fingers around my mind, a steady grip of confusion and I see her and her mothering and her unstable walk and I feel the pressure of her arm, coated in her bright red fleece, on the walks to nowhere near where she used to live. And she leans on my right side and you walk ahead. And I’m thrown by my window, looking out, like she did, surrounded by the things she cherished, held by the warmth and the love.

And she came back so brightly, bringing my old world with her and I see the span of her life, her
mothering, her gifts. And I fragment in the pieces, a cut up mess of memories, trapped in her photos smiling out, her sepia world and mine now. Somehow stuck, indelibly living in that room, living with trinkets of thoughts, permanently who we were, and her hill was nearly a mountain.

And somehow, years from now, I sit somewhere in an old home, looking out over my life, a folded old lady, with layers of silk and moments, surrounded by warmth and love and I see a thread of mothers, through the dust and sunlight.
Ours, creating us, forming who we became and me now here, not old, not just yet, sitting in the light looking out.

My own birth story, my continuation of our family, shining through the debris in my mind. Through these March moments, reconnecting with it’s subtle light, in these days, in these hours that twirl me dizzy.

Different rooms and views.
Universes layering.
Unravelled, in this place,
this thread of mothering.

Ps
A fly revs up behind me, I should look, it could be a wasp. My left knee and arm are warm as the sun creeps round, should be reading, research to do, but my head is lagging out the back the hedge looks black under the brightness of the sky. Feel like I’m in a tardis, secluded from the world in this vast tumbled down place but on the outside I’m still just small, me, a collection of atoms in a current form.
The heat brings out the dust in the day, everything is teeming. I need to do justice to this space, need to work.
The fly, (it was a fly,) tries valiantly against the glass, it’s fat furred body thudding in the light, tiny hairs quivering, protesting at his obstacles. I spot two other flies, quietly looking for answers. In my cell surrounded by prisoners. Sun hot on my shoulder, light framing the clouds.
The buzzing starts to annoy me. I need to do some work.

March 20th
(Showers)
I let the hail pierce my skin it’s white stoned ice cutting the surface. My feet buzz from the cold concrete, my hair plasters down. I try to feel, I seek sensation. I turn into the wind, it bites my face. it’s good. Everything is grey, grey falling, saturating me and the earth. The tiny birds carry themselves to food, hang upside down despite the swinging movement, I’m jealous of their instinct, I crave their animality, their hunt and song as I stand here, calling storms, losing myself in the pain x
The sun comes out, another gun fire takes an unseen rabbit, the ground shines white, water pulled up into steam and my shadow almost blue against the white washed bricks, glaring in the grateful heat. My hair drys out as I tap and in the distance, nearly out of view I see the wind farm for the first time, pure, uncomplicated, turning circles as the clouds pass overhead.

March 21st
The heating is off, my feet are cold, everything is silent, waiting.
I wonder where he is by now, how far along the long road to school, nearly my height, in my morning bare feet, with those eyes and your walk.

Stuff to do on his own walk, things to catch up with, to get down to. He has day two of exams and I don’t feel the weight like I did with SATS. I see him older like me, shifting into a new form, doing what we do now.

Feel strange I suppose, asleep somewhere in this version of being. I should make the most of the space, of this quiet. He’ll be up by the trees now, looking for Jack, his new good friend who knows us now. He has what he needs for today, and tomorrow isn’t relevant yet.

I feel like I’ve docked in a harbour, throbbing and grimy from the journey, covered in barnacles, a sea stained slime of weed. But the harbour is foreign, unfamiliar, though calling me into drop anchor.
I am here, I should pause, though it’s just a port, a resting place between the storms.
He’ll be putting his things in his locker, bubbling and buzzing, a world away from here in this cold room. I wait and view the scenery. Beneath me, the depth of ancient places, darkness slopping up my bows and out there,
hidden trenches crawling in things we can’t see, under the weight of this place.
My sea. Quiet waves, for now.

(and our explorer, out there, charging, steely eyes and cutlass. Doing it.)

x

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It’s the first snow I think, don’t remember it last year, I know I took our son to town for the bright blue plastic but it came to nothing and I shoved it in the cupboard.

And the year before there must have been some but it’s very hazy, that winter just before, just before the last trip north, just before the meal with Nigel, just before the blues with Al. And now the blues are dark and not quite black, it’s early and school’s closed. I’ve told him to go back to sleep before another of those days of childhood, days of innocent whiteness, numbed red fingers, heavy crunched wool and a bite you don’t feel for hours because you’re out in it, laughing and the freeze tells you you’re alive. And I popped outside, not fully dressed, scrunched out my mark and stood in the pinpricking bitter. A dawn somewhere out there an expanse called to morning, not quite yet, beyond blue beyond white.

A black shape startles me, looking for food, a disappointed flash into the trees.
And I want to get out there, wrapped up in sealskin layers, huddled in arctic softness, a silky rub against the cracks of time, with tennis rackets on my feet and steaming huskies panting our way. And it takes me everywhere, to the last garden I remember, when you were tapping away upstairs, working from home while we constructed three snowmen. Out the back and we wrapped them warmly, one for each and I have the photo somewhere, our son on the edge and proud, an expression of an older face to come though we still had a year but didn’t know.
And our snow, squealing up the Jungfrau when my hiking boots were stiff and I beamed at the top of the world and we were new and cold and the air made us dizzy.
An under it I’m in Svalbard on a quest I’ve just begun, tapping my compass and watching the twitch, pointing a route to the lights. And I drift back to now, conscious of my elbow as it leans on a book, that book and the blue has faded grey. There should be Alps out there somewhere but this changing light brushes up a hint of green, a weak shade undercover and down the lane the little angled rooves shelter one small dot of orange, a tiny slit of warmth shining, someone else looking out.

It’s strangely familiar odd, dusty iced specks, a distant whiteout but no blizzard, not yet.
Think I’ll finish this in the garden, force my feet into fur, the pond will hold a mirror out there, in the quiet mist of dusted fields, the charcoal etch of trees, the endless sheet of sky and mountains beyond it that I can’t quite see.

Looking out through the frozen water to the aching backs of snowboulders caked in slimed leaves and twigs that we shaved sides off to shove through the gate and the early morning rushing when I got him up before the alarm, to cocoon ourselves out there, for a quick grab and roll, the wet gloves before school and you saw us from the window in the days of the old world when the snow blanked out a different place and I usually wore red, but not now.

7.59a.m – in it, forgot this noise, the soft burning pittering on my hood, the fired up hands, nose and eyes run in the cold soft fall of memory.

The first snow – I don’t know where I am.
X

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Stood here feeling the ache in my legs, the pressure of the floor under my boots, the sun increasing heat through the glass, warming up my neck, see the shadow I cast on the bed, my shape distorted, stretching out to the other side of the room near the wardrobe barricaded with time. Feel the coldness of my hand as I rub my cheek, a sense of looking out from within, of pushing at my edges, of being contained in something, like a fine wine, fermented over time, in rich old kegs, oak warmed flavours roasting the berries, rolling the fruits till they burst and pop from their shells, bleeding goodness into the black stained crimson.

And I’m bottled, held, contained for now, waiting to be poured and consumed, tipped into another place drenching the throat I don’t know and becoming part of a greater thirst. Moving and changing from bud to grape to bottle to mouth and I’m here in the sunlight, in my mass, in the photons, just waiting to be drunk.

Deep, warm, contained.
For a moment,
before the rush.

Ps I know why I wrote this today x

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I’m not sure where this is going, not sure what I’m trying to find. Taking a moment to think, to feel where I am, up away, out of the bookcase, where I’ve been looking carefully for something. Need a quote, something to anchor what I’m working on and it may be in there somewhere but I know what I need and I keep coming back to them, more and more frequently.

It’s all there, lined up and ordered in the corner of our room and it contains your thoughts, your processing, your ideas and beliefs and the new stuff I’ve taken over. But it doesn’t hold some of these new theories, some of the places I’m getting into, though you’d have skirted close to them.

I’m moving into new concepts and watching the edges blur, the osmosis between yours and mine and the unfolding landscape infront of me.
It’s still standing, just, weighted down with it’s accumulation (like me) and I was in it again rummaging recently, umpteenth look for the book that wasn’t there, but then, there it was, on a lower shelf, filed where it should have been filed, (of course) and I was focussed on the wrong part of the title, of course, and it was right where it belonged, where else?

And I’m looking out at greyness, feeling the thoughts swim around me, taking me back to our not so brief history and our time of understanding stars, in the universe that preceded this one. And my joke about you and the cat and how you quoted it in your battered old scrapbook, in the days when things were written down and paper curled and time coloured it’s elements and your thoughts raced and gathered energy, crackling overhead like a time in Svalbard. And I’m swirling with it all myself, my coloured particles dancing in a new position, velocity changing as it needs to and I’m darting in and out of things, familiar strangeness on the edge of something else and I sit next to words in the comfort of concepts, waiting for this to settle and I’m back on the phone in that other world on Mum’s dining room chair, the one that they’ve still got, that messes with my head when I look at it. And I’m sat there in my youngness and the phone is dark blue, push buttoned and new in it’s oldness from here, and it’s late but the words keep coming. All the things you bought that I didn’t understand, that I grew to love, that filtered through into this place, that I hold, that I explore, that give me a springboard now, sat there and here, late in the dark, on a timeline that moved towards now.

And it’s quite messy in here, in my head, in my life, still quite me, but there is ordering, there are cycles, there is filtering going on and I need to leave this really, need to get to the library, need to work on my references, need to stop thinking.
I’m taking it on, your words, your thoughts, but allowing the shift encouraging the process, sitting back and letting them shift into mine.

Just like our cat before we open the box. Just like then, with dust from a distant sun, like now, with colours refracting through the photons, spinning as we observe ourselves still moving through time.

Milky grey out there, heating clicking in here, hunger calling me downstairs. Should go and boil up the molecules.

In our place with those words, writing on my birthday.
Joy and pain.

A constant of the universe
Inching
Closer
x

Ps.
Out now, sat with sun on my back.
Something buzzing behind me, bird calls I don’t know, a fly bashing itself up the pane, can see a life it can’t reach. The back of my head heats up, I feel it’s warmth with my hand.
It’s peaceful.
I need to go back in, check my word count with a bibliography to do.
I’m here.

(I left the door ajar, the fly might get out.)

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I’m struggling with autumn, think it passed me by last year but I see it this time now with all it’s misty dankness, its inviting skies, teasing and flirting. Showing off the colours, how much more blue can it go and the colours scream out like they used to. For how long. before they lose their moments, turning crushed and flat, slippy patterns on those boots and too many times to slip back home with scuffed knees and you had to rush off to work but put the kettle on for me first. And the constant Sunday inevitability, the desire to walk in the forest, our incompetence doing it, the battered maps and tired feet. Confused expressions in the corner of a field and we weren’t cut out for the county, we did it and loved it for twenty minutes but paths always merged and gates looked the same and I’m not sure we ever ended up where we thought we would, ironic really. And we’d rarely get out before two, one pm, if we were focussed and you two would laugh at my rucksack, stuffed with eventualities and triangular bandages for the fall that didn’t happen. But I didn’t have anything for that unseen moment, well you wouldn’t, would you? And we’d do the rounds of familiar places, the villages you knew from before with bits of stories we didn’t tell anymore and round again with our son, new tales and teashops, grateful for hot mugs on burning, aching fingers. And I’d always forget my gloves despite how many pairs I had. The practical ones your Mum bought for us both, the nice but too thin from my 40th and the two pairs I’d adored from the last Christmas, quite similar and two for one, thats why you bought them. And despite bigger gifts, I loved their fluffy nonsense most but I never got to wear them because I forgot them on the last coldness to Portsmouth and then February came. 

And you always drove and I directed and we tried to find somewhere new but it was often somewhere similar or same and we laughed at the animals when our son was younger. High entertainment from ponies and cows, shrieking at it’s head through the window and the seemingly endless fun of following a wild boars bottom down our winding road home.
And the late afternoon air gets up your nose, the huddle of deep pockets, the negotiation over who’s turn for tea and our son, rustling ahead, leaves in hood, bound to be hungry in the car.

And pushing back time brings on these moments and they’re all around me now like the scattered crunch we threw and tried to capture year after year, occasionally timing it right in the umbers and ambers, the old gold leaves of our days.
Seems odd, is this the fourth time we’ve shifted the hands? A pointless exercise in manipulating numbers.  
Not driving to the forest today, not getting up passed your books with the Problem of God et al and now I look at the problem of language though I’m not getting very far. And I only do the clocks that matter, my phone corrects itself, wish I could. My appliances are static, the oven beeps absent mindedly with random alarms, from the days when they stayed and Mum cancelled standby. And I haven’t got round to finding the instructions so it protests and flashes irrelevance while our son sorts and checks the things he needs. Clocks and faces that tick despite evidence to the contrary. Sitting here in their out of synchness. 

I should get up, not run through our  
Sunday scripts trying to spend the day, to not do any of it. And you, not ringing Tim, sponsered by Accurist and your best watch got scratched on that last trip to town.

My problem with time.

I struggle with autumn.

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11/8
Stuck my head out in the blackness after midnight. Wicked, biting wind cut through, my hair whipped and danced around my head, a few lights decorated the distance. I need to sleep, being pulled and drawn into somewhere long and dark, new and romantic, a sharp, strong, vodka kicked cocktail of emotions. Going to bed too late – but don’t care, this is hard but better than the settee.

11/8 St Petersburg
Well Toto I guess were not in Kansas anymore.

Tired. But up and ready in Russia.

Sun tries stubbornly against the slatey, chunky, thin, angular horizon.
While they sleep in English darkness I’m looking out on a country shaped by oppression, carved by change, limping with uneasiness, clumsy, proud of it roots but awkward in it’s reinvention. No wonder I feel at home.

Bitterly out on the steely Neva, under the Bridge of Brides where tradition throws wishes into it, moving swiftly past palaces and fortress, sitting on top of boat. Interrupted sky, getting colder, eaten by grey bleakness, harsh and frozen.
Along Peter’s Great river to the widest part and into arms of the Aurora Dawn hearing her first shot, thinking of our own overthrowing.

My own arms turn to ice, still holding the effects from the Cathedral. Was unprepared for the images inside the Church of the Spilled Blood and how in a beat I was taken back to the Cistine Chapel and the smell and hush in the colours. And the tension between trying to be there and see it beyond the crowds and not to consume it like everyone else. How can you take your own moments while grabbling on to our sons hand amongst the shoulder shove of a greedy band of strangers? And trying to keep sight of the guide and what number on a stick are we looking for? And you were somewhere out there in the loud quiet, in the hot clamouring fug, mind the steps, where are the steps, hold on, hold my hand.
And not far from two years later I stand looking up in a different space-time at a different ceiling, lost in the colours, in the moment, encrusted in the pain, frozen into the delicate detail reaching out to me through the light.

Subdued buildings frame our coldness, soft monochrome symmetry as we catch the stories. Waiting for the Prince of the purple sails, sleeping out amongst the trees until her ship comes in. And he arrives knowing a Princess’ wish, dying his sails to meet her needs. So purple becomes symbolic of hope and I buy a purple scarf for their folklore and my needs.

In the evening we march back through immigration, passed the impenetrable soulless sheet steel of Welcome. Look into the neck twisting mirror, avoid eye contact, wasted smile, stamp and go.
Sit with hope in the theatre and discuss the patterns on the heavy gilt dripping curtains. Our son sees banana gold waves as we look at the columns of smiles. After our chiselled out granite morning, the contrast of sound and colour, a party of fanciful fabrics lands with a comforting shock. The frivolous costumed energy spun its stark revolt against the earlier cruel greyness and we enjoyed what we could in our plush pockets, a world away from anyone. Seemed displaced somehow and out of time, a teasing humour, joyous fun bursting out, unexpected, dancing freely in the way I used to feel.

And back through the night, spots of neon pierce the gloom, wrapped in an enchantment from the evenings culture. The energy, exuberance, so alien to my life, so vibrant, drenching me in a tradition and fairytale.

12/8
Today in the Peter and Paul Fortress, looking up again, away from people. The ceiling, gaudy gold dripped splendor gives me neck ache while I cannot deal with the caskets and the rush-crowd-click of people photographing marble. I can’t deal with the size and the shape and the words and the imagery and although they’re all long gone Emperors of a Romanov resting place, I shuffle past and look up and beyond. I feel disgust as they clammer to consume moments of history. And outside our guide mumbles on in his gruff appealing slightly indecipherable sintax about Anastasia and if they find her there’ll be another funeral. And I close myself off and away and want to escape but I can’t.
Managed agony of the traditional choral Russian choir in a small white hush with nails dug deep into fingertips, to hold on tight through the velvet harmonies. Objectively so beautiful but I had to lock the feelings in layers of decorated wood because if I started… well, you know.

Somehow its too much like Pisa. The cobbles are hard to walk on, hard to see, they take me back to our last holiday and rushing round market stalls before finding you standing, waiting and my bartering for an umbrella that hasn’t seen the light of day yet because it reminds me of back then and the time just before.

And inside to prison confinement, a different suffering, the wire bed, stone floored isolation and a gnawing presence of my own hard cell.
The struggle back today, intermittent successes as we follow the polyester hand holders, sweet but agonising. Walking behind them, magnetic hands, dressed the same, strolling in a land I thought I’d know.

We leave soon heading for Helsinki. I feel confused and restless. Grey, low skies with a beautiful cold symmetry.
The threatening cloud frames gold leaf, a softened shape splintering the skyline. I’m muddled, tired and teary, feeling everything and nothing in one breath. Remembering too much, thinking too loud. Swamped with the days experiences, encrusted with anniversaries and vividly coloured moments that stay inlaid, despite time. The light breaks through, lighting up the old part of the docks, flicking a strange glow on the rough Brezhnev breeze block buildings and the huge hotels.
I can’t think anymore.

The ship stirs up silt, the gulls are busy. My predictive text tells me I’m a King away from anywhere but I don’t feel it. My land comes with me wherever I go, it’s in everything. There’s no escaping this rule, The revolt is always against myself, it’s a tireless cyclical coup.
The water settles to ripples, the breeze twirls and plays, I stare into the distance. We are moving away, we are moving towards our next place taking this with me. It’s ok.
Rebuilding.

I feel calmer now we’ve shifted west. The frosted glass laps and breaks alongside, sun dipping as we glide. A stillness that belies it’s depth. I sit out, feet up with merlot-my own spilled blood, wrapped in my Estonian shawl, warm, cool, tapping on screen. Our son unimpressed by the line of small vessels, he’s in a different place.

Stick with it. Be.

13/8 Helsinki, Finland
Our day, a good day on balance. Both of us laughing and shrieking as we bounced and battered over the snow, following leather tethered huskies. Despite the benefits to my chiropractor it hurtled us through a new experience, slipping us closer, lapping it up in our ice sculpted memory. And after the slapstick snowsuit removal we blinked back out of the dome into the bright Helsinki coach park, our sixty seated sleighs groaning under the weight of Finnish gifts.
After our day of contrasts -5 to 22, I listen to where I am but go back three years and the call from your Dad. We go upstairs to tell you and you just say was that the hospital on the phone and you know and we give you some time alone. And now I’m here and the thick unyielding fog is back and although the sun is on my feet and the rush in my ears, none of this is real.
I am not here, this did not happen x

14/8
Lying here waiting for the motivation to get up looking at the date and steaming, churning slowly towards tomorrow. It’s daylight out there, from the quiet soft patterns on the ceiling I expect a cloudy, thick wash when I push open the heavy striped curtains. Still back in yesterday and thinking of my time with your Mum and the encroaching fog. And that’s all I feel now. A jellied, gloopy greyness, swirling, lumping, sticking to me changing my outline, slowing me though not enough to stop. I feel her on my arm in the first of the homes. That was August too and the little house we rented opposite the train station which confused and distressed her, before the journey back over Pendle and I sat in the back and stroked her hand. And you burst through the fog now like a lost ship, harrowing, calling it’s memories, it’s stories creaking with the swelling wood. And I swoop up and out of the the whiteness, remembering, feeling, right back there in our life with our son in year two, you in familiar conflict with your brother and the slow un ravelling around your Mum. And I am not here, this is too alien, this is not my world. I am not floating gently to the next place in a life I feel displaced in.
I’m fragmented.
I need to get up but I’m a collection of pieces. And tomorrow is the 15th.

15/8
Sat out the other side of Denmark, smelling the seaweed, too far from home. Nothing works, I can’t deal with people, their carefree consuming irritates me, their happy end of holiday faces replete in too much of everything. I feel flat, I’m uneasy with a bile that builds steadily. The suns round the corner, we are anticipating the edge of a storm. I touched the edge months ago, if anything, more queasiness will be a good fit tonight. I want to be thrown around, tipped down the corridors, bounced of a floor that drops away because that’s just how it is. That’s the instability in my head. I don’t care that it’s the last formal night, I plan to shove down a main course and run, only facing it because our son wants to and we spent some of the early nights having tea in the room. I’ve done necessary avoidance for a while. Right now I’m wondering why I bother, is any of this worth it? Should I do something totally different without these significant triggers? How am I going to get through the remainder now? Sun, white speckled deep green, lulling, soothing, calming but it has much work to do to take away this feeling.

I’m in no place to assess the merits of this trip, I do know why I did it, but leave it now, let it be. My eyes and cheeks are getting sore as the heat creeps round. It’s a strange place, manageable when it’s tucked away inside but when it comes out to play, screaming terror in your face, the frivolous surroundings and people push me down, darker, deeper, more absolute into my familiar wound. That’s it I suppose, the wound, hacked off limb with no anaesthetic, throbbing quietly, changing my gait. But now it’s bathed in salt from the North Sea, rubbed up and down the gash, burning feeling back and right now I’ve lost my bearings, compass points to nowhere I know well. Messy metaphors are muddled like me and I can’t do anything, be anything, interact or rest. I’m back 18 months ago, waiting and knowing. And in my current space feel like a waste of carbon.

Sailing home
So what
Void

16/8 Bruges, Belgium
Opened curtains to busy port. Rode out last nights storm, sheets of white lightning switched flashing energy across the ocean. Despite my empty lowness, a clamouring fear seeps in. I feel our paper boat, soaked and torn bashed about on the waves. I’ve run out of what I need, I’ll be glad to get home.

Wandering through quaintness, 335 steps up to the top though we don’t climb it and it still looks like the other old honeymoon towers. Gargoyles in windows preventing evil spirits. I look in their eyes but they can’t stop these feelings. Alms houses, quietly line the lapping river, built for deserving old people and widows, so we’re told and I smile on the inside.
Our son rests his head on the side of the boat, he pulls at passing trees like on that boat trip in Warwick on our way North for your Mum’s service.
Everything looks like somewhere else, like the trip you enjoyed down the river in Canterbury when the flowers reflected in the water and we stayed in the upside down house.
The guide drones on like a cross between Poirot and Captain Manwairing with a laconic, guttural style that quickly loses it’s charm and too many men are wearing your clothes though their height and walk are all wrong and I can’t escape anything, and I’m here and it’s lovely but I can’t click to Enjoy.
Poirot points out the Weeping witch, appropriately a rare version of your tree and an uneasy medieval air follows me around like a child in a red duffle coat.
And we come out, through the market, passed the beer collection and somehow magically, into Florence. And it’s all so familiar, taking me back to before and I struggle with every step, failing to be in the moment.
Sweet bells chime like our Millennium Evening over the shackled church where judgement was passed in a spit and well aimed old tomatoes.

When Piorot finally concludes his act we ache back to the room and a sickly sweetness stays in my throat after too much Belgian fudge, which held some appeal for a moment but can’t take the edge off anything really.

While I tap, I hear the churning port, clanking it’s freight. A place in motion, no time to pause. I’m tired of all the faces and considered accessories. I’m hiding away from the last cheery sail off. I don’t need to wave bits of plastic to mark where I’m going.

We’re going home.

I know it in my flatness, my weary sense of some achievement, my bag of dirty washing, my presents for those that matter, my frustration for the way it couldn’t be, my sadness for the way it had to be, my understanding for the way I try, my pride for me and our son, my acceptance of the need to change, my gladness of the welcome that waits, my resolve to keep at it and my relief at the tears that come so freely now.

As you used to say, in a stolen Martin Clunes line ‘you’re going to keep going out with me till you bloody well enjoy it…’
I think the same may be true of our new life now.
We are heading home in twenty minutes. The sun beats down over the stacked up crates.
I need the quiet stillness of home,
I need to stop,
I need to be.
I know why we made this trip.
I know what we did.
I know.
Following your way.
I travel – therefore I am.

17/8
Drizzly, wet, low, dank Southampton.
Dirty grey hatchback creeps through the early morning mist. The city throbs. I shake my hair down.
Our pilot ship guides us in on our way.
We are home.
Now what?
X

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Watching the thin white line of reflected sun brush the horizon, the constant rush brush, gentle background push of waves, the breeze plays round the back of my neck, the cloud thickens. I still feel vague heat on my feet and the hardness of wood reminding me of the weight of my legs as they rest on the table.  The sea is calm and I sit in the quiet new after yesterday’s challenges and the soul sickness of the evening.
Last night surrounded me in a vomiting panic having sat through a shared table meal, battered by the sweet old couples who had over 90 years of marriage between them. And I did my best to be antisocial and focussed on the middle distance as she painted pictures of when her husband was “so ill and do you know they even did the last rites but look,” arm squeezing laughs, “he’s still here today.”
So glad our son had eaten enough and I’d had enough, I dropped a hasty napkin, nodded my ashen face at them and took the spiral staircase to be sick in the lifts.

And now after a sobbed sleep I am still here, interrupted by voices, so I’m going in. Sun breaks through, spilling light onto the distant flat grey. Need to think how to approach today.
It all seems so pointless, empty, absolutely nothing working and the days drill out before me like the endless sea. This negative wave feels so solid right now and huge windmills appear off on our right and I feel my self railing at things I can’t conquer. It’s pulling up on the horizon like something to sail into.
Something planned for that turns up with expected unforeseeness, skirting round the turbulence but feeling the swell. This is getting me nowhere, unprepared for this hollow cold sharp wanting.
Deep out breath, need to move. 
It’s getting nearer.

7/8/12  Copenhagen, Denmark
 
Woke close to windmills in a busy port of grey spiky tug boats and a weather that’s as unsure as me.
The dense fog of the last two days has eased with the new landscape. This is why I do this. Our way to see outside our boxes.
Six years ago I was surrounded by them, packed high and full and we left the old house for the long journey round the corner, to spread out and grow in the garden. And now the garden gets left as long as possible and I’m trying to help us both grow.
The sun is forcing through over the pillars and cranes. Windmills still waving at me – need to fill the rucksacks.

Inland I stand behind, watching our son move through the clamouring clicking, to grasp his own image of The Little Mermaid and feel an affinity, out of my element with a new identity, striving to get to a place I can’t reach. And we float by spires wrapped in dragon tales and I’m comfortably lost in our story.

I watch the wirlygigs squat gracefully into the horizon trying to hold their image until they become distant sticks,  eaten by the clouds, left in a crisp and clean world, smokeless, efficiently giving it back.
White ribbons build in the heavy, green black, rushing alongside and away. The turbines have become today’s badge. I remain in a strange place, I’m probably trying too hard. 

Back then we’d moved in by now, kettle on, our son back from friends, takeaway for tea amongst the dust and newness.

They’re still hanging on, they’re not quite out of sight yet. White lines caught by the sun. A plane breaks my thoughts, cuts over us at right angles. Some other collection of others, heading somewhere for some reason. So much movement while I stand and sway and watch. I look right, I really can’t see them anymore.
I look left in the direction we’re heading.

8/8
Challenging sea day. I sit out now, need my sleeves rolled down. We seem to be chasing another ship. I lean into the wind, studying the change of clouds and a strange yellow smudge arcing to the right. I realise it’s our trail of smoke, pastel pushed into the whiteness. The clouds hang low and light as a small propeller plane chugs over the stern.
Deep in Baltic coldness, the charcoal rich water threatening a bitterness, while gentle summer blues above me imagine it’s warmer. I feel calmer out here, drifting with it. I have to hang on to what works and ride out what doesn’t.

9/8/12  Stockholm, Sweden
Woke into a still flat grey crispness  and a Swedish landscape that lifted me. Finally a sense of being far from home and finding something new in the clean lines and welcoming gulls. Today needs to be better and right now I’m hopeful.

We head out for a while I listen to tales of oak war ships and short nights. A balanced place to live, thirds of lakes, parks and buildings. Protective copper coated wood blurs by and the too clever loud family telling everyone about everything. Oh-Well-Done-Toby’s mum is on permanent broadcast, filling the coach with tales of Alicante and her superficiality gnaws into the weakened gaps of my armour. We survive the 150 metre high gondola ride to the top of the city between bridges. I turned my back away from their annoying distraction and focussed on our sons face in the morning light. High and away from everything familiar, I  hold the memory carefully in my hands.

We pull away from considered, ordered neatness and leave under greyness as seagulls strafe us in the search for fish. Mixed up monochrome sits heavily over warm soft buildings. My void is filled with something I can’t put my finger on. I wave to strangers. The cranes look like compass points over the rock, pushing development, change and growth. I’m fascinated by the gulls and join them on the breeze. Everything in flux.
My transience remains.

Heading  further East, a coldness easing in. Strange landscape, small obscure islands litter the calm metal sheet of water. Patterns knit and weave across it as we push through. This bleakness has a comfortable familiarity.

10/8/12  Tallin, Estonia
Struggling with our sons button pushing. How do I make this work for both of us?

The dock is edged in odd concrete shapes, curving round, kissing the car park like some herd of frozen creatures. We’re both interested in them for a while and re connect before the search for our coach.
We bounce and rattle over cobbles hearing tales of new brides dropping rocks into lakes, releasing balloons and doves to say goodbye to their old names. And I’m struck by their hopeful romanticism, persisting amongst the un nerving medieval backdrop.
We pass the Palace of Happiness as our light, youthful guide tells us her family were on a waiting list for a phone and if you’re too far down you just don’t get one. I tap away on my screen feeling privileged in my Western pain.

And up passed the Kissing Hill where they come to take photos after the service and the old cars and vans beep their loud tradition at the frequent newlyweds.
Deep into the town and Toompea Castle flashes me back, looks like our Italian lakes and the castle we climbed on honeymoon. And the steps were steep and narrow and you photographed me from the opposite tiny window. And we were trapped in separate turrets, feeling our story unfold over the ochre courtyard beneath.
And I wander round with our son in the current Estonian moments as our still, bright cine reel jumps and crackles it’s plot through the narrow passageways. Passed Long Leg street and Short Leg street, joined at the point where old and new meet and the town limps with contrast, like me.

Sitting out later. Seagulls are back, the shawl I bought is too thin for any warmth but the opposing colours appeal to me.  I remember fifteen years ago and heading south for the start of something new and now I drill in further East, feel the harshness of a culture torn from trust, a bitterness of identity and I feel odd, misplaced, misunderstood, marginalised, uprooted and overthrown.

This day has been a better one on the domestic front. The plentiful, traditional non-essential essentials gave us both some lightness. The delicate, uneven, thin lilt of accents reminded me I’m far from home and the earlier severity of the weeks feelings have frozen to strangeness in this slightly unyielding place. 
I see a town split, a contrast of needs and wealth, a place of redefining. Their flags wave blue, black and white. Blue of rivers, black of soil and white for purity – Hope.  Proud to no longer be prize or target..
The gulls follow us and fly so low and near. I watch their feet sway in the wind. There’s a growing harshness, I go inside. getting ready for the feelings and moments to come.

x

Round about now I hit my iceberg and all the thoughts and plans and dreams tumble and slide across the deck. I realise everything was as it should have been and this is all wrong, so very wrong. And I remember their screams as we sat in the front row and we weren’t married and we made comparisons and you had something in your eye,  remember? And we watched as the tar black night pulled in closer and felt the icy memories stroking away what we had. And I’ve been avoiding the posters and the news footage because it takes me back. Not just to them, in all their finery and the countless families living this life, but to us at the beginning. Organising ephemera in our new home and we just popped out for the evening, like you did when everything was new and you weren’t crawling through anxiety, breathing through the minutes that would get you away from the day and to bed.

It became part of our relationship folklore, that film, that moment, that life back then and occasionally we would remember it.

Last week I ventured out in to the real world and packed up my grief to take our son to London, and the trees were out in blossom in the walkway but they were only saplings when we visited before and our toddler played on the steps as we waited for my friend. And it was a birthday surprise for me, but the wheel wasn’t working so we did something else and nothing really mattered. But last week I bustled and shoved my way past the same spot, wondering if our son’s memories would crash into his day as they scraped alongside mine and I thought I’d negotiated my way through their waters, despite the waves picking up a swell when we moored home later.

But

I woke into whiteness, cold endless whiteness on the date I remembered the long distance wedding guests had started to book in and hang clothes. But they’re not here now and I wake to the screaming confusion, the disorientation as my gaily coloured life slides across the table in front of me, just like the glasses on that pure cotton table cloth on our extra special holiday, back then when I was worried about the captain’s message. But the seasoned travellers reassured us, like you tried to reassure me and our son over night as the heavy metal banging smashed and creaked at us and we held onto the sides of the bed as we touched the edge of the storm. And you wrote in your book on the page with the Ancient Mariner’s quote and wondered what horrors awaited you at work on our return.  But there was no albatross for you, he was waiting, biding his time, before flying straight at me and I remember the frivolous sailing, the freedom of people away from real life, when just for an hour, or a smile or a week, they could forget, and pretend that this was their world, that the top ups were always free and the limitless buffet was as their life should be, all laid out on a platter, beautifully presently and sizzling at them, eager and plentiful. And they played and they laughed and they drank and there was no pain or anguish, no reality to scrape deep inside them and carve out a wound that changes them irrevocably.

And we waved and smiled and laughed as our hair was blown backwards and we put life on hold as we swayed out of port. And now it’s too late.  My ears burn numb from screaming voices, my terror is stuck in my throat, the night has smashed into me. My tables are broken against walls. crashing, sliding into oblivion. They are all around me, every passenger a memory of a life bobbing along, steering through storms, learning to get my sea legs and becoming a competent sailor. But now it’s too late, the ice has torn into my stern, we jump with no hope, breathless from the icy impact. Black coldness grabbing at my legs, broken wailing, layers of consciousness pulling me down, clawing for wreckage, kicking, panicked through blackness, searching, reaching, finding slimy wood. Waiting to wake but I can’t. Splashing, thrashing, flailing at the reality, trying to hit out, smash down on the oozing denseness around me. This has not happened, this is not real. I want to scream until my jaw locks, until there’s no voice left, until I gag on all that’s around me and when I wake I’ll be on board, glinting into the sunlight. But I can’t stop the memories grasping at me, calling me further in and downward, swirling me round and around. The horror, the wood, the noise,  make it stop, I want it back, I want this over, I want it all back. I can’t breathe. I can’t swim. They’re all around me, panicking into beyond.

Why do I bother to pull myself onto the wood, to lie crushed, drenched, empty, only breathing, just looking back at my life? 

Day light brings no end to the misery, just fewer voices as I look around at the carnage, the bits of my world floating by, popping up covered in algae, unrecognisable for a moment. I pull the weed from them and study their form, I remember them when they were shiny and new, when they weren’t memories –  just moments. I look back at her silhouetted, broken against the skyline, like some huge, snared, injured animal, too heavy and awkward to right itself. And I’m too exhausted to cry. I just lie and wait and think and feel for me and my world and their worlds back then. Ripped apart, sucked under like mine, surrounded by debris, to be picked through, to make sense of, to piece together. And I think of people I never knew from a life I can’t conceive of and I feel for them across the years and I ache with the pain that connects us, with an understanding that can only be experienced not taught.

And I see us walking out of the cinema on a cold February night, thousands of years before the month gained it’s meaning. And I sit here on my driftwood, floating in the dim mornings salvage. Alone but connected beyond all I know, clinging on despite splinters I can’t feel and shards buried deep in sinew that cause me no distraction.

I look out at the water – black, icy, laping its whispers towards me.

I sit

I breathe

I float

I wait

x

P.S – Monday, first thing

This is more like it. It’s cold rain and I’m not quite dressed for it. Can’t work out whether to hurry through and untangle this at home or let it take its course and drip back through it carefully. I never quite click into this world. I’m still on top, resting, with butterfly weight on its soft branches, just outside of it all, drifting through moments of clarity.  My ripped, furred wings still stuck together with the gloop of the cocoon clumped onto my back. Fragile, perched, hanging on for the sun.  

No familiar faces yet, no movement over my bridge, no one to check in with. Better go – hill calling.

And I glance at our road south where we turned so many revolutions before we knew it’s significance. And they’re coming late today. They arrive with their perfect quotes as the rain gets heavier and for a moments soaking I laugh through it all and I hear us together from a time before the clocks stopped.  So I stay for a while at my wet table, the Tao bird muck’s washed away. It all looks varnished by the rain, glossed over like the things we choose to avoid. And I sit in it, through the remembering, the weekends memories and where they are about to take me. And I can’t really see through the mizzle but know I have to go home soon, to get everything out and look at it, to understand and revisit, because it’s calling me like you did back then, late at night while the house was silent and I got up to take the call.

I can hardly see the screen for raindrops, the tiny rainbowed spheres persisting, showing wavelengths of joy beyond the present tense.

Back home

And sometimes when it comes back it’s so welcome. I slip into it like battered worn out slippers that hug the contours of your feet, that know every inch of your soul as I flail around in familiar pain. And I curl into the cushion – and I’m waiting for the throb in my temples and it hurts and the pain is Good. And I scrabble around for images and moments, flashes of a life gone by and they dance around and tease me until one drops into place heavily, deep  inside. And as it lands my shields fall willingly and the horror comes back, just for a moment, for a second or two and the panic pulls at my arm, spinning me out of control and I shout helpless protesting at reality. And if I shout loud enough the universe can’t take it and it shatters and gives up the game and everything crumbles around me until the dust settles and I find I’m back in my old life, in the old world, displaced and disoriented by the shift in consciousness.

But despite the force of my voice, the echoing depths from which I drag it, the surging energy of a lifetime with which I hurl it outwards, I still can’t break the illusion.

I crawl back out of the cushion, bewildered and spent,

And approach the day.

Another moment to experience in this illusion we call reality.

x

The church yard was in full bloom and I chose lilies because I always liked them.

Stargazers, flamboyant, delicately confident, pink red and white. With their swirling energy masking vulnerability. The delicate tissue velvet petals that would dance out there for a while then cry in your vase, losing their structure, the stamens bold, heavy drenched with pollen, drooping, giving in later to let go and stain the table.

And Lily was Mum’s sister who I knew for seven years and she was good and she was kind and she was smiley. And I like my cycles and symbolism so I chose lilies because it tied up the threads of my life before. And the florist thought ahead and cut the stamens out because they knew with the bustle of the day that they’d wilt and stain the dress and I didn’t notice at all until it was pointed out as they poured over the photos much later. And on that buzzing, tingling morning with me half dressed in silk, I wafted about waiting for my friend to arrive. My old school friend who I’d known forever making the long drive south with her children safely packed off by the seaside, so she and her husband could help. Him, ushering and placing and her supporting and easing as I assembled myself into the realms of ivory. And she strapped me in carefully, tightly closing velvet before the doorbell rang and he carried in the flowers for me and lay them all boxed on the kitchen floor. And I rustled in, pushed my way through the scent, the home dense with perfume, swollen with potential and the colours were ripe and verdant, plump and ready to sing out as we passed by.

And we passed by and up into the dimmed, musty, hushed waiting air and I held them resting on me as I looked at him. And after when my heartbeat slowed down we turned left and out into the calling light and I held them up high, one handed for the crowd, like a glistening trophy after ninety minutes slogging it out and a weary climb up the back slapping steps. Then in the car with the laughing slapstick of manoeuvring and sitting down and I still held on through the poses and clicking, face aching smiles, high up on the bank with the daffodils out in front of the cathedral. Someone must have collected them when we went inside, whisked them away like I was later, to be kept cool, to retain their beauty, to be looked after and carefully arranged. And we had chosen the design beforehand, weeks earlier on the industrial estate in the back of beyond. And they would freeze my moment and hold it forever and the owners kitten tightroped gingerly across the mantlepiece which seemed out of place in the sparse unit. So we signed and we paid and entrusted and they removed confetti and picked it all apart before the wilting took over, while we found the high air too thin but climbed anyway and looked out over whiteness, away and above it all, in the cold brightness of all that lay ahead.

We collected it on our return and hung it in the bedroom, flattened but saved as it looked on the day. And the light reflective glass would hide the petals from the sun and it would freeze time for a while and look back at me. And it still hangs there now but over the years the photons have beaten the glass and time peeled away the colours although the dress fabric beneath looks the same. The vulnerability of ageing, its irrepressible force of nature, its inability to stand still, to aim for permanence where all is transitory, even the mountains change shape, back there where we stood while petals were glued into place. Long after I’ve gone from this body there will be movement there also, a shifting of matter at a rate we can’t see, motion, of all that we understand in our time based turning world. Everything changing imperceptibly, necessarily with nature.

And even last January not long before the lights went out, when everything was still in place in the old world, I noticed my bouquet had altered. Peering out at me through the wave lengths, the colours softened, the fragile tissued papered skin of an old alpine villager, sun-baked from working the fields her whole life, tending crops because it feeds the children, turning the soil when your back breaks because nature drives you to do it and go hungry when the rains come because that’s just how it is. Living in harmony with a force you dance to, following its path, its rhythms, its music over eons, deeper truths than we can reach but hanging on and moving with it because it’s pure, it’s Good, it’s Tao.

And so my old women behind the glass crinkles a knowing smile back at me.

Time beat us both in the end but through the brittle veins, the stripped out hues, this new subtle palette has a different beauty, it still pulses and dances deep inside on a level we can’t understand. And she’s still there swishing and spinning, twirling through her moment, our moment, this crazy whirling girl of brightly coloured petals, vibrant, showy, knowing, laughing, joyful and free, bunched into a shape to be held for while, for a purpose until the purpose changed and the rhythms changed and the music altered,

but the girl and flowers still dance,

then and now

for him

for our son

for herself

For always

x

This morning: Preparation

I watch him from by the tree as the pidgeon borders him from above. It’s earlier than normal but I need it. I need the pouring rain but it’s not quite hard enough yet. The leaves have pushed themselves out since I was last here, the rain drips down the back of my neck and off their sap rich glossiness and as the wheels brush by with a soft familiarity it all looks subtly different. The fortnights break from routine, the spring warmth and eager rain has lifted my landscape. But just as I turn for the bridge I’m reminded of a much earlier walk and I freeze for a moment, wrapped in layers of grief with acres of loss swirling round my ankles and I step out and towards the other side, back in time as water drops absent mindedly to the road beneath.

I won’t stay long, a mellowed corner of rape has sneaked into the picture, full of promise for the months ahead. I sit on this sodden wood, not quite ready to go, not really wanting to stay. I’m abstracted from it all, the smokey washed layers of cloud, not quite bothering to clear, the rain in the distance over someone else’s life. And Bailey passes by me but the ground holds more interest than my knees today. He’s wrapped up in his red coat, protecting the fur but he should be running free, soaked to the skin, beaming with joy, careless to the pain like I wish to be. But he snuffles and patters off as I sit bunched up in my parka.

Hoping the gentle rain picks up speed. Another wash of grey, heavier now slowing blowing a steady procession over the trees to my left. In my memory the doorbell is due to ring, they’re here to help.

I need to go back now, to be consumed.

I glance at the table on turning,

today even the bird muck is a Tao symbol.

x

Ignore it all, the coatless freedom, the beating light, the shiny drops reflected back up at me. The speeding shadows, the chirping sun.

It’s all out of place, out of time. My slow shuffled observation becomes a hurried avoidance. This day says nothing to me. The rustling around leaves me disturbed and I seek last spring’s darkness. This really isn’t working, I have to go the back way and hurry.

Look down as I walk, I only see the mud today. Last time I came this way was in the mist and now I can see what’s in front of me, it was hidden before but now I see the field painted soft in the distance.  I don’t want to know about it, I can’t look at it, it’s not my place today.

I wish I knew what the bird calls are, they struggle to lighten me but it’s hard work. At least down the back road there’s still frost. The sapling’s are plastic coated with a layer of moisture, extra warmth needed for their young sprouts of potential. Happy dogs are thick on the ground. It’s going to be a difficult walk back. I turn tail as it approaches the hour. The sun swaps sides and I might just make it. One gentle nuzzling and some warmth on the left. “You’ve found a friend” she tells me. Bailey is pleased to see me even if I’m not.

It’s just a dream today. Their words bounce off me, the distant lightness of lifted spring people, coming from their darkness to chatter on the breeze. Their laughter irritates me but I can’t blame them. I would, if I was them. Have to get past “their friends on the estate, yes we were all still at home”.

And Bella’s toffee paws break the spell. And though I’m rooted in this thawing empty sunshine it doesn’t matter how long I stand here, no one can see me anyway, I’m not really here.  But then I want to run, to escape, to leave, to evaporate, to be beamed up and away from this place. 

My tapping competes with birdsong, the warmth getting through but the scampering and panting and rustled nylon pushes me to make a shift. My shadow cloaks an early bee, sneaking out, prompted by sun but confused by the coldness that lingers. In my resistance of the day my friend’s text tone startles me and makes me smile. His squeaky loud car horn is at odds with my world, as am I. Then more texts demanding I participate in this morning and I need to scurry back to somewhere dark, where the sun can’t reach me although it feels good right about now.

I move under birdsong, through the rays and over the frost, around the faceless dog snuffles.

I have a food delivery coming, I need to go.

The day continues on its way.

I have to find mine.

And I am caught by the last person I wanted to see and her falseness grates on me. She oozes alongside and oils out her question. I say “I’m fine” though it’s an effort to form the words and she needs to take a different path at the crossroads and I’m relieved. I feel unclean from the moment. 

And now they’re coming at me, shoppers and walkers and the heaviness pushes down successfully without restraint.  A beautiful muzzled beast of a dog smiles at me through his fur, I’m drawn to its heaving energy and power, a potential savage  just beneath tumbled acres of fluff.  The proud small man on the lead enjoys their questions and presents informatively to a passer by.

I’ve had it with this day and it’s only 9.15 in the a.m. I go back the short cut, watching my shadow bounce perkily, denying how I feel.

The front door can’t come quick enough.

X