We didn’t mean to go to sea. All I wanted was my feet on the ground, to slowly push my toes into the wet sand one at a time, and to lie down on the beach and let the Earth hold my tired body. Oh alright that’s not all, I’d like to run around for a few hours and explore, to climb some trees and to sleep on something solid, still and firm. I want freedom. This boat is a prison, without the guards. The ocean is my jailor; she watches my every move and keeps me on this vessel, to rot.
If I were free I would run, even though I was never much of a runner. We did the 18,000 metres at school, round and round the track. It was incredibly boring and usually I finished last, in fact I hated running long distance. I can do short bursts, racing full pelt downhill is what I love. I once ran so fast down a slope that I lost my balance and flew forwards into a mid-air somersault, I’d love to say that I landed gracefully on my feet, but I bypassed them entirely and landed flat on my face in a muddy puddle. I would be happy to land in a muddy puddle now.
There is no mud in the ocean, well perhaps there is at the very bottom, but that is far far away.
I dream of land every night now, and when I wake my heart breaks. Huge sobs burst from my body, shake me to the core, my face is permanently streaked with tears. I miss the ground. I miss the trees, I miss everything I cannot have. I miss my life, whatever that was. I don’t remember exactly what I was doing when all this began, but I was crash-landing. The Universe had taken my life and shaken it upside down until everything fell out, she allowed a few minor things to slip back in before I was righted and plonked in a new town and a new life.
I had spent so many years wondering what I actually wanted, they say you can have what you want, but you do need to know what that is. I was trapped in a dangerous relationship with another human being, there was no time to discover what I wanted, I was too busy scraping the pieces of my life off the floor every day, patching them up, and trying to look lively while inside I felt destroyed and abandoned. That tumultuous past ended, a new life had just begun and this unwelcome voyage put a stop to it.
What I miss most are the sounds of the Earth, out on the ocean sounds are lost very quickly. I miss caves; they are such a wonder to the ears, so many different possibilities. Deep down in the underbelly of the earth, is the sound amplified because it’s so quiet down there? I once walked right to the back of a long narrow cave chamber in a mountain, barefoot in the total pitch-blackness. There was a mixture of water, mud and holly leaves underfoot. It was tremendously exciting and terrifying at the same time.
I was in a procession of people, and now I remember that I reached out and held a warm hand, that of the man in front of me, a man who has passed on now, it forged a bond that I will never forget, I did not know who he was as we stumbled blindly, he was my friend and ally. At the end of the cave each person sang to the mountain in the total darkness, it was eerie and alarming. The sounds reverberated from the walls, it was impossible to tell from whence or whom they came. I felt the bile rise in my throat as I tried to recall the faces of the folk in the cave with me.
The mountain leaned over and pressed down upon me, I was sure that the cave would give way and my life would end, my legs ached to run but I forced myself to stay, holding my friend’s invisible hand. The air was heavy, thick and cold. It was a strange kind of lonely. When the last person finished singing we each lit a candle and glowing faces magically appeared in the darkness. A while later we emerged from the cave, down the slippery banks, through the tumbling freezing river, back into the last fading light of the darkening day. I tasted the woods, pushed my face into the emerald soft mossy mounds on the earth and felt bright surges of gladness for the sun that lights the world.
I feel sad now thinking of my friend, ours was a magical otherworldly connection that we never spoke of until he found out that he was dying. I remember the last time we talked, and the last time I saw him. Time took him quickly. We are still there in the cave, and we are there in the meadow dancing together under the dark welsh sky.
Living in the past is frowned upon, well, I don’t care, there is nobody out here to wiggle their eyebrows at me! It makes no sense anyway why people would try to persuade you not to do something that brings such pleasure. What would I be without my memories? A strange kind of being with no past, I wonder can one look forwards if there is nothing behind? That’s daft, if you are walking or travelling there are things in front and things behind, there’s no way round that, things don’t cease to exist when you pass them.
I once stumbled upon the actual meaning of life and it had nothing to do with Douglas Adams. It was night-time and a friend and I were somewhat altered. As we sat in her bedroom eating gypsy creams and toast with lime marmalade, we heard a knock at the door which led to the discovery of the meaning of life, the universe and everything. Suddenly the whole world made sense. We uncovered this truth as we opened her bedroom window and stuck the top half of our bodies out into the night. It was a strange sensation, the darkness enveloped us; I felt the night air sealing itself to my skin. The world outside was a completely different place. We looked at each other and retreated back into the room, it was as if we had entered another world, it was warm and bright, and softly encompassing us with the essence of “inside”. Instantly we shot our bodies back through the window, back through the doorway between worlds to “the dark night”. We continued to move between these two worlds for some time until our friend outside cleared his throat rather awkwardly to ask what we were doing.
Our incredible discovery had made us forget that he was there, quickly we went back in, closed the window, shut the curtains and continued to discuss this incredible revelation. It was odd because as we talked we kept hearing a knocking sound but we decided to ignore it. We wrote it all down in a notebook, and in the morning we read it and it made absolutely no sense whatsoever. I guess you just had to be there.
Whenever I think of that time I am filled with a strange feeling, a knowing kind of not knowing. There was a time that night when we were perfectly certain what life was about, it was obvious and it was glorious, and it had something to do with putting things in things and taking things out of things, which after all is pretty much what everyone does all day from the moment they get up in the morning to the minute they get back into bed at night. Even birth is taking something out of something else and death is putting something in something. But it was more than that, but what it was I have no idea.
Without memory I couldn’t think of this and laugh myself stupid.
Living in the past is good. At least, it is better than being stuck on a boat far out in a nameless ocean longing for land and people to hug and make new memories with.
Kitten Photo by Luku Muffin on Unsplash
Window Photo by Ekin-Fidel Tanriverdi