Archives for posts with tag: travel

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I’m sat at my screen and I type like I did back then, when all I could do was to sit at my screen and type and words tumbled out in no particular order but they came out and they come out now. Now I sit at my screen and I’m aware of the fragments in my head, of the way my mind is trying to process the news but like back then, the images and thoughts are coated in a thick gloop, they pull apart from each other, they struggle to make sense but they don’t. In my head, like in the early times, there’s just a fug, a twisting, churning mess and I just follow it. All I can do is let the thoughts and feelings bubble up and jostle for position. There is a sense of being propelled from a familiar place again into somewhere strange, into a different land and so I type.

My devices are all active, they hum and bleep with updates as a spectrum of people post and grapple with the news, all affected by the connection to you. I remember sitting, staring at the flashing curser, in my week three, the TV bleating out downstairs, my son watching cartoons in his own fog and I took calls. I rambled and sobbed to the friends who reached out and then I posted. I typed and wrote the words and you responded, from out there, lost in your own hell at day nine, still counting on your fingers as you reached me.

And now I keep turning over the words and the messages, the encouragement and support. And while I type, I can feel the buzz of updates I haven’t read yet, of people calling each other and reaching out. A web of connections from your life, I can hear it now, a background radiation of complex links and all of us with our own stories, our narratives of how we knew you and for each of us somehow, in the places where we collided, there is a tearing now.

I used to post so much in the early days when every journey to the shops was an event, when the smallest interaction provoked a stream of emotions needing to be expressed and you encouraged me to start a blog. I remember being in another country with my son, away for the first time in our new world and as I took the hairpin bends in a coach, miles above sea level, riddled with anxiety, surrounded by strangers, I planned out my first post. There up a mountain in my chaos, I was anchored with the knowledge that I would write it out. I held the thoughts, I made mental notes and I coped because when I got home, when we’d survived what others saw as a holiday, I knew I had a vehicle for the pain and so I typed. And when I was finished, I sent it to you because you wanted to link it to your blog and give me the springboard into a world I relish now.

Now I process everything, up and out from the dust filled corners and the dark places that hide around the back, to the joy and the lightness that come from a full world and when the feelings make no sense – like now, now in this concentrated tapping on the keyboard, when the desire to check updates makes me type faster than I can, I turn to words. You were two initials on a forum, you were the stretched out fingers that reached mine and we travelled together. And now all your fellow travellers struggle to make sense of this place, we reach out to others like you did and we hold on.

Through my open patio doors, the sound of another Saturday seeps in, people mowing lawns, toddlers shrieking and my washing machine churns like my head, like my stomach when I heard the news. I must check my newsfeed; I need to keep close to the others touched by this. We stumble, our virtual family but we reach out, like you did on our journey. Our paths entwined, a patchworked tribe and I’m one of the many threads,  grateful for the entanglement, so thankful for the hand of a friend.

My washing has finished but my stomach still churns. I must check my newsfeed.

We are all connected.

❤️

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February 15th 2014

As we float out again, me and our son, into these familiar waters, I see how we’ve learned to sail. It’s odd, the skills you learn when there is no choice, nothing but to hold onto the rails, to feel the rope burn in your palm, the saltwater bite your skin and your sea legs gaining strength because they have to.

It’s raining, it seems to have rained forever, as though the thought of sun on your face was a chink of memory from someone else’s life. But this grey ocean is known and understood, somehow the whip of wind is no problem, these gales can only hurl us as we steam out of port again. The salt scrubs our face and stings our eyes but we keep going. Our leathered skin maps our journey, shields us in the storm. We tap the compass, watch the needle twitch, looking back over our log book now that we are sailors.

October 9th 2013

I look out from my lump of carbon through the condensation, dripping white worlds upside down and watch the steady smiles peel down the window. Though my feet feel carpet I’m not here, I’m three years ago up high on our deck, I stand by the outlet pipe with our son and we squeal as the blasts push around us. My scarf and hair compete for position till we find seats in the warmth and watch the people and land get smaller. I remember standing down at Weston or was it Woolston in the years before we slowed and we perched on the edge of the jetty waving at the ships leaving home. And later or maybe earlier, leaning up a barrier in the skirt that doesn’t fit me now and my favourite white top, clutching my sunhat in the breeze, smiling into the lens with Enchantment or was it Independance behind us and we raced up by the old sheds, parallel with the water, bombing it in the Orion to catch one last glimpse of the beast.

But I’m back on board now, excited and scared with unknown storms ahead of us. I see us wandering, working things out, testing ourselves in our new glistening place. I’m there in the cold, in the anticipation, in the promise of the waves ahead while I sit behind these steamed up windows in a room where the floor keeps still.

And further underneath it all, I travel to my start, the first day with our son on my own, when all the help had gone. Proud of myself, washed and dressed before the midwife arrived though it rarely happened again and I positioned his kit on the bed armed with all equipment, playing solitaire around his needs. I learned to change a nappy kneeling into the bedside, him kicking springing legs on top because I couldn’t bend to the floor and my days and nights merged into an inching journey, in that room, by those curtains from this day and ever outwards. And I feel his soft new warmth, his smells and dribble, a comfort of heaviness in my hand and an ache I grew to live with.

And I live with different pain now,
moving things around to meet our needs, focussed on the job, the path ahead. I’m layered, waiting for the doorbell of the midwife, as I lean up railings looking out at blue and wherever I am, I am travelling, my luggage changing shape while I heave it alongside with us, muscles straining, strengthening in the weight.

We pull out of port,
the midwife turns up.
I need a drink in the present.
I brush the hair from out of my eyes across these three realities.

Plaited journeys – on my path.
xxx

Thursday October 10th

The light throws out strong contrasts today, the shadows are long and stretched in the low bright sun. I make shapes in the condensation till it liquifies the image out there. The tree ripples and drips, distorted in front of me like the shattering of its temporal signature.

I remain fragmented myself, back in an early visit, Mahler and the Celestine Prophesy on the day I took photos that didn’t come out.
I go outside now, called by a strangeness in the tree, I can’t make it out with the light and my eyes but I find it to be an odd clump of turned leaves, crisped and auburn amongst the green. I investigate its dryness, not quite brittle but almost, as I’m sandwiched between heat on my back and a biting breeze in my face.

Back inside the ancient timelines in a room where the bookcase was stronger, years before its current lean, I wander around watching her while this day is outrageous in bright with leaves twirling into windscreens, crumbling and dancing with no thought.
A shimmer of space time and I’m nearer to now, that grey heavy black morning, Voyager on TV and I’m rushing in a coat too big for me now.

And I drift on the air blown in and out of my places, curled and orange in the passage of time, my shape holding true despite elements as I am carried by the day and the season, leaves of moments, crunched loud colours, from the forests in my head.

The creases in the sycamore spore mirror the waves in my fingerprint. I hold it up in these unforgiving rays. Something cheeps over my shoulder like a creaking door as we leave your shack, packed up and heading out to plough new fields.

And in the distant fields I see from now the whirligigs twiddle and twirl, spinning silent circles at the edge of my view.

xxx

October 12th

I remember this day in Nice after the breakfast fiasco and the stressed rush to Cannes We stood high up on the curved road, looking down on white, bleached walls reflecting us in heat, markets that led to Matisse’s place and a beach, wide stark and alien. And while I tap the sand from my new trainers I feel me sitting by the bed on a Saturday evening in a different world, days and dates doing their thing and I leave them to it while I wash up by hand.
A novelty, like years ago when I stood by the sink, son roped in, in pushchair and me proud and resplendent in marigolds and suds as I’d managed to take my own weight on what remained of my back, for the first time in the strange land of motherhood.
I see the old dishwasher, that belonged to Mrs Mouse, that you started up while I looked after our son, and we got used to its clunks and forgot how to use bowls of water. Though you never really liked washing up bowls, too scanky underneath and I didn’t like a full sink, snorkelling for the plug through the debris of our meals.
And now this bit of back then has broken and I clean round in preparation for men, tomorrow’s job of welcoming something new and shiny into this changing place.
I remember leaving your early cave, at the start when you were at work and my mid morning trips home on Mondays. Tidying round everywhere but the kitchen, leaving jokes in the lounge while the dishes piled high
and tommorow I’ll pile them here in polar white, the old things, the chipped things and our son’s best Star Trek mug.

October 20th

I find the photo of our son in a sombrero, dates shouting out and the last frame I bought which clashed with the colours, in these old rooms with the smell of encyclopaedias, the preserved smell of childhood, the ancient book from his Great Grandad
presented eons ago in a different world before engines had grunt or TV on demand, from a slower, stranger time than my strange world now.
He can almost lift me now, growing solid, sinewed, with strength to come and the trees are heating up now in this late autumn sun, flaring Spanish colours as we pass by and somewhere on a distant sea of pitching waves we sway home, tired, travelled, bagged up washing and memories, sailing into new water, in our way with gifts yet to open, in the dregs of a journey, in the preface of the journey to come.

Xxx

P.S
You know what it’s like when you travel – you always over compensate, take too much, forget something else. Lug heavy cases around full of ‘just incases’ and wherever you go, you find you had enough anyway. We pack with great care. The anchor is heavy but we can lift it, steering out with wind through our hair. We plot a new course and head out.

x

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I always liked compasses, as I child I coveted their slick shined domes, arrows twitching mysteriously. I can’t see them from my youth but I know they were there. I can only see the recent one, bought in a gift ship at end of a walk, half for our son as he chose the green one. And the image flips me to another shop buying up bits while you rode the mud together and I met you both by the front low wall as you screeched up and leaned by the side. I remember the tyre marks on the back of his top worryingly strong and clear but he’d only been leaning up the wheel as you stopped for juice from the little carton with a ‘stwor’ and he was smaller than now and the wheel was big. And I can see you bombing off from the carpark up the dusty road while I wandered to the shop and once, just once, I came with you and stood by the wooden bike hire shack, trying to find the one for the fit and wibbled and wobbled with you through the undergrowth, by the station and booted it over gravel before my knees gave in.
And my compass banged up and down on my small red rucksack, the one I bought for the Alps from the old sports shop where my hiking boots were a size too big to fit my fuzzy socks and our son wasn’t made and my jacket was red and yours blue. The rucksack lasted on all the walks, a tardis of treasures that you both teased me about, in the forest, in the teashop, warm butter and china mugs, laughing at me as you ticked off the things I’d carry while I triumphantly pulled out the ubiquitous banana. And the table was wide old walnut, just up the road from the horses where you clopped down the lane and I followed.

August 10th

In this world a proper summer has returned, like those from 70’s of my childhood when you were back in the North and I sweltered in the South.

I wake, the overnight fan blows strong and loud, its confident whirring sounds like a plane. I’m up high somewhere in metal hurtling but directed, the pilot knows where he’s going.
On land in my bed I’m muddled in memories, the morning before the birthday meal, tipping up the old camp bed and laughing in the hours before the quotes. The quotes around a different table at the last meal, the last Sunday, four days before this one. Rushing back from school now to the start of the end and although I know where the dates are leading me, I’m sticking with the thought of flight, watching us in my little room pack and prepare for this journey. Younger eyes knowing much less, a different world view from this Unknown.

I bounce all over in the turbulence finding things that I’d forgotten, peering through old windows and looking carefully through the fragile and delicate, the solid and permanent, the moments of our world.
The engine’s strong, directed. I may go into the cockpit have a word with the pilot. I’d like to know what he does but maybe I’m not allowed, maybe I have to stay here in my seat, bump along the air pockets and look down, observe the scenery with awareness be in the moment of flight.

He has his altimeter, I have my alethiometer still heavy, strange, a precious responsibilty. But it was given, this gift, in its rust velvet sack, the chord golden and twisted.
I know when to hide it, I know when to fetch it out, to tap its crystal screen, watch the needles spin and twitch, then feel. Feel where the symbols are pointing, lift up into their meaning, let the images dance and shift until they make sense.

Then I move, then I act, reading the symbols, wrapped in fur on my journey North. The snow bites as I follow bear prints. It’s cold, it’s confusing but I’m learning through the dials.

Guided, driven.
In this plane, on this journey.
Here in my bed on this day, drifting and watching. The fan burrs out across the room. I’m lying flat watching ceilings, just like back then.

Such a strong sense of travel.
I am everywhere. I grab the compass.

Time to get up.

August 14th

I remember being lost in Valencia with our end of trip verve we branched out and split from the herd. Our insurance policy was the guide ordered taxi who would whisk through new streets to the cathedral. With a tour pick up from there with bright buses to show us the way, we couldn’t go wrong… So we peeled off and piled in our rattle trap taxi, bouncing on the low soft sprung seats, our son unsure of the steps we were taking but we reassured him, we had instructions, we knew what we were doing.

The driver dropped us in his appointed place, I can see it now, light, heaving, chaotic with tourists and sights and though the cathedral shouted out to us from its gothic spires, it was quickly obvious we weren’t at the right side. Amongst concerns from our son about what we would do if we missed the boat and all our possessions sailed without us, we hid our concerns and stumbled into tourist information. In broken English with biro stabbed maps we grappled to find the direction and as our clock ticked down we rushed and flustered to a different street, clutching our son’s hot hand, to find the boarding point we needed later.

In our noticeable relief you found an outside table serving Guiness while confident of our directions, we plotted where you were in relation to the shops and spires, straight up passed the fountain and swung our rucksacks in the glare of Spanish sunshine to find a fairytaled sweetshop. The owner who appeared like Mr Ben from behind a twinkling curtain helped me part with the last of the euros in exchange for a plastic cement mixer loaded with marmallows (such an obvious souvenir). And though the clock ticked we didn’t care because we knew where we were, we knew where you were sat and we knew where we were going.

Sweets in hand, under the loud blue sky we made our way back to you and in the carefree moments before the jostle of bus, we took a final photo, you and our son by the fountain, shining into the light, him in holiday brightness and you in the same alluring pose from that first ever photo all those hours ago, from the world before I knew you, when you sat infront of Niagra in those vile and zany lemon shorts.

We caught the bus in time despite our fear, despite out foolish challenges, despite losing our way for a while. Travelling, testing ourselves, finding answers on our path.

Two and half years ago tonight I was shoved off the path, knocked down and smashed my compass.
Still clutching our son’s hot hand as we fell inexorably towards tomorrow.

August 15th

It’s raining today, I can hear its hiss through these thin windows. The drops are quite uniform, speckled on my glass, varieties of wishes upside down in each one, a world turned on its head under the breaking grey of sky.
My back’s playing up, just like 13 years ago in the month before I gave birth. In today’s careful steady steps I remember those movements, the inching along and I flip around to the memories locked away.

Our son is messing with the sprinkler, firing droplets into the trees. The sun pushes through, I tell him he may make a rainbow as the water flys and dances in photons. He tells me ‘Yes, but you need to sit inside the raindrops to see it…’

Pointing towards Polaris, through the rain and rays.

x

Ps
And now a word from our sponsor – our son…
Hello viewers of my Mum’s blog. I need your input on my next post. Please look back at my post called The Final Frontier,

https://thetaoofgrief.com/2012/06/17/the-final-frontier/

pick out your favourite episode, then leave it as a comment on this post. I will then describe it in a much detail as I can, in my next post entitled
‘To Boldly Go Into As Much Detail As Possible’
Thank you:-)

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I’m away in the back of a taxi and the foreign radio bleats out some news and we’ve learned the rhythmic qualities of their accents as we travel from Oost to West or was it West to Oost?And I remember a long barren train station, hanging around for the last one back and the mountains that came into view and the snaked hill houses, chaleted rooves on either side and the path waves up and out of the village, away and up to the clearing.

And I remember the photos tucked away somewhere now, with that close up through the trees and later downstairs in the empty wooden restaurant, where the wicker chickens were made just for me and we guessed at the meal and laughed when we were right. And somewhere I have the little wooden carved out frame with the postcard that doesn’t quite fit and I remember the feel of my top and your new watch, the one that got scratched the last Christmas.

And I see us at tables, white cloths and plans and the air was so thin it made you dizzy and we sat somewhere high, by smoked glass, looking at the view and we bundled in cable cars with your proper camera and we got to the top and I screamed.

And I stood up there with you, dazzled by heat and light and the shapes went on forever, peaking to the horizon, in an unreal distant place.

And the camera caught us, young and new, me wrapped up like Greta Garbo and the moment itself, frozen like us, just before I chucked snow.

And I’m surrounded by it all today, as I was then and I flip to the top of Norway with our son in this world and the shapes were familiar but the coordinates had changed and I looked out and down at the path we’d negotiated when we were just at six months. And I tried to hold the pain as I stood there but went back to Zermatt and in the warm coldness, in a high improbable place, I took my brittleness to the souvenir shop, empty fingers fiddling with change.

And it weird. This place, this road, this journey. I have lots to do today, now, in this still low land but I’m flipping through the images, head bouncing to keep up and we sit in the carriage and I hold onto the scene. The colours, white iced down through blues, pined angles rich and deep, to the twisting web of sparkles, the stream by the side of the track, dotted with coloured spots of flowers, juddering on our way. And the window surround is old and chipped, like me now and our backpacks are full, our trainers new but tired, breaking them in as we walked, as we made our way back, then, in that world, with those faces.

And I lie here trying to start the day
but I’m not sure where I am. I feel spread out across it all, this thinly stretched life, rich and brittle, still rattling along.

still travelling.
xxx

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Been Looking back over words written months ago when our son made a trip to Southampton and later when we passed through again, together, in a time machine and the images fragment and crackle with who we used to be and it’s all here, in these words from that town. The town that started my journey to here…

Last summer

I’m in our old places, in a new way and head down, tapping, full on avoidance. Can’t see the trees, hide from the ponies and moments. And I hear our son’s voice still with his young idiosyncracies that take me back to our Sundays before school. And the car park’s familiar but I have to do it, glance up quick, then head down from the roaming animals and I ignore the swerve of the roads, trying hard not to and think where we are, I can’t be in any of it at all.
I stay quietly tapping, hurting in silence, aiming but losing the moment, while I’m back at our first ever Sunday. Ice creams from the tiny shop, dressed in red, trying to find the bin, teeming river and the current cattle grid shakes my presence and I’m tired of memory. Sun crashes through, the suspension rattles me and I’m lost in the trees somewhere.

I feel blown by the day, sleepy and crushed. Can’t find the image for the thought but it’s close to a broken cobweb, holed and stretched, at the mercy of the weather, stale prey, cocooned limp hanging. And while I’m spinning in sticky thread, a flash of rain crackles the light and we crawl through under the bridge of colours, bringing hope by the dismal tower block.

Same morning – earlier

Back at the bench it’s cold and I feel strange. Just left him kitted out, off to Southampton for time in the world that he’ll grow into and I feel odd but ok. He’s as prepared as me and I can’t see much beyond the rooves, the sky hangs thick and low as I go back eighteen years to my own careful packing for the first trip south and our conversations move around me in the wind. The horizon blurs purple, the spring flowers pushing higher as I drift forwards and back to the forest, the first glimpse of ponies and the laughter of a townie running out of bounds.
I’m knitting it together, his presence of challenges unmet and a world we’re stepping into, with my tentative steps back then. This all belongs to someone else, someone I used to know. I need to unravel this carefully, think I’m too much in the present to look at the past but it will come, as the hall fills with suitcases and they wait for the coach.

I took the train south, was it really that long ago? And you showed me your town and the places I’d come to know.
Familiar haunts on Saturday mornings, crossing over the water for baguettes,
carefully filled bread, in the cafe that never had enough seats and we’d sit in the front, watching people, opposite the shop we bought the rocking chair from, a couple of years later, before the stool got stained by family and life.

And Waterstones after, ending up at the camera shop and evenings on the edge, at the Frog and Frigate and stories and tales of the land before. Before I crossed over into permanence and your friend came back from sea. And we felt the force around us and I can feel his excitement as the coach pulls up now, as I boarded the train back then and he’s going to test out the waters, near our country park. And as it starts for him I see us racing back up the long smooth road, cutting angles off the roundabouts as we hurried to make my connection on time.

And I did and I came back again, became a local girl, a platform regular, until the habit became away of life. And he’s bundled up with all he needs for now, all shiny and new with extra chocolatey bits on top but sepia stained for me, dog eared and torn with love.
And as he burbles from the coach, I go back to all our moments, visits and integration, the things to tolerate, the things I came to own and we’re freezing on Western shore, standing guard in the playground, in the dark, waiting for the ship to come in, peeled back layers of a time before it was our turn and they stood and waved at us.

And forest teas with the Midwich cuckoos, when he wasn’t allowed to touch toys, to buying essential nonsense from the tinkling hippy shop, magpie-ing my way around ephemera, through the incensed air, in the chromed up glossy mall, the one we revisited that last Christmas, when the Apple store hummed helpfully as your watch repair went wrong.
And I flip back and round like the waltzer our son hated, memories blurring as the colours of our years bleed into each other and I’m sick with the intensity and my head spins till I heave it out.

And it keeps coming at me, Portsmouth road on the bus, passed the Cod Plaice, while you worked, around the complex island, enjoying my freedom of feeling new and the eagerness of the short lived perfumed job and I can smell their shallowness and see me by the busy road, flat shoes, achy feet with discarded heels banging in a plastic bag. And I was so young, so improbably young, and I hear our quotes at Dad’s party, the day we mapped out the future.

And I remember Buffalo Bills, with our friend and his friends, meals with Nelson and his funny little ways, shining talk and us, full of stories from New York and the walls were plastered with film memorabilia and the toilet was a jungle. And I wore my favourite t-shirt, rushing past the Mayflower on the right, when I wore the black shoes with jeans and we parked round the back somewhere. And I was driven passed it recently, think it’s a coffee bar now or was it the place next door, boarded up, out of time?

And it continues, all the places from when we drove around, you showing us where you used to live, when you first moved down and how you’d gone to find digs, walking for miles, coping with a broken arm to accidental biking by the QE2.

And on and up to the Cowherds, stuffed with roasts, by the park up the avenue, where we watched the balloon festival, chasing the Desiderata song.

And sometime later driving by containers and freight, just like we did back then. That first trip, when the car was full of us and the gardener’s children and he told us the trip was ‘pregnant with possibilities’ to wind us up, like he always did.
And I see the shiny buildings, chromed up high to the air, where I got a job that I didn’t take because we moved and chuffed up the motorway.

And some time after, I saw our journey north, into the sun, leaving there for the new home. And as we skirted it’s edge I looked carefully right, past the cut through that you showed me, by the car park where I crunched gears and the bus stop that released me on the road to Hamble.

It was all there, like a film set, soft focussed and it happened and it didn’t. And I stared through it all, at the sun beating off the leaves, in a courtyard garden, near to where we used to live, in a world away, in times gone by, in a distance place, in another land before.
Beyond the now and up the hill, like your pick ups from St Marys with the red and white eyes lighting up out of the greyness and it’s all still there just around,
just beneath,
just existing, in it’s own plane, safe and untroubled from this reality.

And I need to leave this for a while and come back to the present and see how it jigsaws together, me then, him now, knotting the images, tying them tightly, harnessed securely in past and present. Someone I used to know, someone I used to be and her ways and their words, feeding into who I am.

Now.

Right now,
in this moment,
in this world, with these challenges, with this love, with these layers, with this knowledge, with this truth.

In this reality.

Now.

xxx

Ps

Sun setting over my merlot, ruby light pierced raspberry. Blood rich shards dance out, splintering pink into my room. I’ve travelled today, through years and space, pain and growth and memory. I’m disengaged now, displaced, confused. Carrying heavy, vivid luggage with me, till I can place it down again somewhere, somewhere safe and protected. For now I’m in it, wrapped up totally and lost, feeling who I used to be with love from who I’ve become.

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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Watching it all speed past me through mucky caked train windows, the days of previous years, out there in the blurring girls, the fields I used to be.

It’s the day before the day before and I’m drawn to write but feel empty, drawn to not write but feel full, stuck on my train, rattling through it, passing by old stations, chipped signs, platforms aged with wrappers, screwed up junk jangled sounds, streamed laughter, conversations behind pillars and thundering along to the next one, shaking me as I hold on tight, fingers clasped cold round the pole, eyes trying to focus on something familiar, to find a foothold, anything to click, to remind me where I am.

I wander through carriages on look out, the nap rich first class, pristine seats not for me, and hip bash my way through oldness, spilt coffee, crushed polystyrene, stuffed with cold cuts and things on sticks and sounds twirling cheap poppers around me. And I’m fizzing, blitzed in tinsel, it cuts into my neck as I pull myself along it’s crunchy scratchy glitz, back to my corner by the door. No waiting till the light comes on, telling me to stop, press here. This is my old door, wooden door, metal edged, stiff thin window, heave down on it, quickly, need to get my arm out, air cold, grab and twist the handle with care, as the door swings out and wide across my mind, mind the gap, but I can never to do it. Stay inside, closed, fast and rapid.

The landscape chunter judders, I bounce back off the sides as we pick up speed into a clattering reflection of darkness, hurtling out through streaked greens and gold, bright bows and ribbons, ripped up paper between my toes, stuffed stockings, the constant rumble thump of motion, of images of moments, of warmth and sparkle shooting round my windows, my rattle trap steamed journey, riding the route, swaying the way along relentless rewinds. Without a ticket, without a seat, nose pressed hard to a glass of memory. Jiggling, lurching with my passengers, corridors decked in pain and love.

Travelling, with no destination.

And our son calls down that we need to do the tree today.

There’s no stopping,
No stopping at all.
x

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December 15th

Just over a week to our second Christmas, (really?) Time messing with my head, walking in tandem with all the moments that bought us here. Jangling behind me like the relentless festive shop music. A lightless bulb in our permanent tangle of wire. And while I try to find some energy in today’s empty flatness our son is busy upstairs, narrating a Lego tale, splashing in our newly softened water…..

September 5th

Listening to the sound of our old water softener hiss, pop and crackle it’s salty job. Been thinking about changing it for a while, it’s 15 years now since Mr K sat on your creaky old pretend settee in our sparse newly moved into lounge. We bought it second hand, lovingly looked after, he told us, by an elderly lady. And he described it’s features with the pride of a show winning dog owner. He visited us a few times with laminated options and spiral bound charts. His full case packed with the trinkets of someone enjoying their work and we smiled at his delight, for the salt tablets that he turned in his hands with undisguised pleasure. He always wore that tie, slightly too short, slightly too thick a weave, a blue that announced itself as he ambled up our path with his aimable, helpful air.
I remember our chats as he became an infrequent visitor, servicing the slimline creature that lived at the side of the sink. He always had a tale to tell, a good natured anecdote about some customer event. He always gave more than was asked, jiggled appointments to seamlessly remove and re pipe in the beast after we moved here. He ran his small company through recession with the dedication of someone who’d got there without the expense of others. And we nattered and laughed as he plumbed and turned while I filled the cupboards and worked round the crates. And we joked about your DIY skills and were grateful for the magnets he screwed to the swinging cupboard doors. He had some in the van, it wasn’t problem.
And I’ve booked for him to come round on Friday to look at new models, alone, to find something that will fit the space and do it more efficiently. And I remember that he was widowed back before we knew him and I remember his son was 15 and he talked about his wife as he tightened our taps and I told you in the evening. 
I have a feeling he knows as I’d referred  his services to Mum and Dad and I heard his tone at the end of the line, months back, salt ordering, but neither of us said the words.
And on Friday he’ll be in our kitchen and on Friday I’ll go back in time.

Friday

Waiting for him and his van of memories and his face that I haven’t seen for five years. Sitting with the anxiety. Today my Red Indian name is Stands and Waits,  oh God he’s here…

His glasses glinted in the sun as he climbed out and his cheery smile at the door told me he didn’t know. He grinned a big hand shake and asked how I am. I mumbled ambivalence. He carried his case into my kitchen, saying ‘family well?’

I explained as he leaned up my sink. It took a while to get to the purpose of the visit but I hauled it together enough to half listen to tales of dimensions and usage. I just went with the one that fitted best. Will it do the job? Where do I sign? And we returned to our connection and I heard our old life in his warm Hampshire drawl. He understood. He knew loss a few times over. His daughter (not a son, memory playing tricks on me) had entered this world herself and he would have known how to support her because of his own pain. And the conversation shifted as he explained himself. He pulled back from the carbon copy, put down the biro and said he sees the experience now as ‘The Builder, not The Destroyer’ and how it forced him to go within and after years he now looks out with new eyes.

I leaned up my oven, bookending him by my sink as this unremarkable man in logo-d top fell away, to open up and fill me with stories of gentle souls in Sri Lanka, of peasants without anything, beaming through joy, rose crystal rivers, a natural source of pure pink water, blushing the lanscape in India’s teardrop. And his energy bounced off the units, a wisdom hidden in his simple frame, messages learned and passed down through generations of pain and growth. 
And two hours later we joked on his way out ‘Oh yeah, and by the way I’ll have a water softener’ and he shook my hand, thought better of it and hugged me and it wasn’t what you’d normally expect from a man in a van dressed in blue. But it was right and it was good. 
He told me he gets moaned at for not having a big business by now, but it’s not what it’s about. It’s a means to an end for him ‘it’s just what I do on my journey’…
And as he crosses the threshold he seems to morph back into the job and makes some cheery comment about kids at school and I smile at his back, closing the door.

I anticipated the memories and the pain. I booked the installation for a later key date free week but I wasn’t prepared for this. The connection and deep knowledge that he bought. You’d have found him fascinating, you’d have talked to him for hours, but we wouldn’t have known that side of him then because he only came out today, in my new place. This morning, in my kitchen, crammed with the old and new world, with an older face and his words that hang around me now like the limescale in my kettle.
Feeling the thin, trickled stream that leads back to our first river, all those moments ago when I used yellow pages to find him.

Our Mr Blue Tie
And he came back today
With all that he bought
Making the links
Journeys crossing paths

Though he doesn’t wear the tie anymore.

October 5th
I’m up here out of the way while he kneels on his ivy green towel. Not a chatty job this time, all these years later, I leave him to it, I don’t need to see. Need to write.
And he calls me down with an unexpected question. Where did I want the old one leaving as it’s not something he can take away and it’s there unplugged, out of place, emptied, just a shell. I can’t really look at it and mumble something about the garage. I’ll do it later, something else to edge outside, to rest there as a symbol while the work continues in a different shape, it’s essence remaining.
And as the mysterious gurgling sets in downstairs I review my earlier finds from the cupboard clearing. I’d whizzed what I needed to, the cleaning products, now migrants on my worktop but the corner’s hoard threw me. The surplus cupboard creaked out it’s hidden wares, the shoved in ephemera kept for different reasons from the days when I had a choice about endings. And out they tumbled the tablecloths creased in newness, barely used plans from our first home, party napkins, every year a different theme, the last present from Adam in the days when his mum knew what to say to me, the bumble bee coasters, wedding gifts from Diane. And I reach in further, feeling round like helping to birth a calf and in my rush gush of memories, free up pork not beef, with our pig place mats. Just two of them from pre parenthood meals, fat, distorted, distended creatures, naive art you weren’t quite sure about but they were ok with a plate of food on top. And the ever ubiquitous bubble liquid, a dribble of plastic letter cutters, hotchpotch of fish bits, rubber tubed syphoning from our attempt to keep pets and a mug tree Christmas present from your Dad in the days when he spoke to us. Bits of your old life, some wine cooler that preceded me and the sandwich maker I couldn’t bond with, bagged up for then and now. Bits of mine, mix and matched mugs for our son to role play out, fragments of our world and the last two things amongst the dust and plastic lids: a bubble wand, an unlit birthday candle. I study them for a second, their frozen potential, rediscovered, still able to become.

And he calls me again in his broad Hampshire hog, all done and 
I head for the stairs.
His delight is back as he explains the  
new toy, I like the blue light but I’m not really listening. He tells me the old one is now light enough for the wheelie bin but I doubt I’ll manage that, not just yet.

And we both feel unsure whether to hug again, but this visit was business like, it wasn’t appropriate today. Last time was for sharing, today was for the job. 
And he says goodbye with his warm wide smile and I watch from the window as he beetles off in the van, another traveller who plumbed into our world. 

He leaves with a part of our history, he turns the corner, eyes on the road ahead. Like me.

I miss his blue tie.
X

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