Stream of barely-consciousness

Looking back with the benefit of nostalgia, it is easy to forget the homesickness, the loneliness of that year. I do not look upon it as a wasted opportunity, but rather one I chose to endure in my own fashion. Others partied, northern-style, staying out late, growing up disgracefully. I took a more sober approach. I enjoyed being an enigma to my fellows, and, in a way, I enjoyed wallowing in my own self-pity, overworking myself, setting challenges I would lose sleep needlessly to fulfil. I looked for the real, the genuine experience, rather than living in my own little Erasmus-island. I was there to embrace the local culture, warts and all, and so I did. Suppressing my instinctive withdrawal from any harsh reality I might encounter, I soldiered on, exploring in foreign territory. Craving a wholemeal cheddar-cheese and Dijon-mustard sandwich for nearly ten months. Learning instead to thrive on a diet of crackers, coffee, plain chocolate and oranges. I inserted myself into that world, that time-zone, that lifestyle. I even went to church.

Then, when my time was up, I was expelled from my brave new-found world. Released from the institution. And now I find myself aching to return there. A part of me is missing. I noticed it when I first returned. I craved pizza rather than toast. I pined for the colourful shop-window-displays, bursting with pride and elegance, and found no solace in the unfeeling, haphazard piles to be found gracing the grubby glass fronts of Regent Street.

What can have happened to provoke this shift in personal geography? I no longer belong here, or there, or, in fact, anywhere. I am a displaced person. Having abandoned what passed for ‘my own’ culture to embrace another for so long, I find on returning, that I have lost it. I no longer fit. The world around me jars each time I open my eyes to it, and yet I cannot exist in a bubble. My time there is fast fading, and yet the world here is hardly in focus, but fuzzy, as if viewed through a smudged lens.

Homecoming is never easy. It is in the nature of time, being of a linear persuasion, to march onward, letting those things one drops fall by the wayside. Somewhere along the road, I seem to have lost myself amid the dust and general confusion of growing up. My rock of ages slipped its moorings and drifted out to sea, taking the rest of the Armada along for the ride.

So what do I do now? Try to find out who I really am? Or just choose an identity to borrow? I could so easily become the perfect girlfriend, then wife, and daughter-in-law, even mother. Or do I continue to drift, hoping to bump into something or someone significant enough to run me aground and show me how I am no longer so out of my depth?

My mind is filled with problem-solving paraphernalia, yet no solution fits my puzzle. Logic is overthrown and I dawdle along the path of least resistance, dragging my feet in the mire and snaring my clothing and hair on brambles. I gaze longingly towards the past, using the eyes in the back of my head, ever fixed to the rear, but I refuse to turn. What good would it do to return there? To dwell, to swallow the pill I keep toying with – swirling my tongue around it, and capturing it securely in my teeth before spitting it out again for further inspection…

I am myself, and yet who I used to be is already long-gone. Old friends no longer know me, and I have little use for what new acquaintances I gather, as I now expect them to be transitory, changeable, fleeting.

I work because I must. Not to do so would outrage me, pushing my fragile sense of stability further toward ‘off-balance and out-of-kilter’. I long for time to think, time to sit and wallow, to pinpoint my position, work out how in hell I got here, and where to go next… No time is forthcoming, however, so my questions remain unanswered, although the answers must be within reach. Somewhere in this vast confusion, there is one with my name on it.

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Tea for one

I hum a mournful tune, sat amid my geranium pots, on a European balcony, years ago. The beauty of the minor key, sweet in its infinite sadness, pleases me, and I feel somehow included in its nocturnal fumblings. I too have known loss, felt pain, loved where none was to be had in return, and in my imperfect cadences, I taste of the sublime. I swing my arms and legs in the warm breeze, perched on the high-backed kitchen chair, its wicker seat creaking under my shifting weight. The sound, as if on a small boat, gently rising and falling with the swell of my melody, prompts me to look up at the stars. Their twinkling pinpricks wink back at me in turn. The cooling tea I slurp and the chink of the mug as it chips against the concrete balustrade remind me that we are fragile, yet fluid. An ever-changing puzzle, shifting from time to time to keep up with the pace of this universal dance. I am in rhythm, and yet out of it. Touched by visions of truth and forms lacking in substance, I drift through my lazy daily routine, pausing to concentrate on such mentally taxing activities as shaving my legs and to admire the fleeting brilliance of newly applied toenail polish.

To know peace

Your kiss surrounds, envelops and overwhelms me.  Like a drink of cool water in deserted climes, you bring me to life.  As oxygen to a mountain hermit – I have lived so long without you, but now you awaken my body, breathe fresh strength and new wisdom to my limbs and my mind.  I look upon you and I am reborn.  I look upon you and I know beauty in its true form.  No platonic fancy, this, but love.  Of a depth to drown out all the world, and with time, a gravity to outlast the stars themselves, returning over and again to itself, refreshed, renewed, remade in its own image, and I fall – twisting and turning, over and over, toppling, spiralling – I fall in kaleidoscopic dreams and I know peace.

Nauseous with nostalgia

Why on earth is it that even years after the event, I still cannot let you go?  Your lopsided smile and ugly, grinning, gurning face plague me from hour to hour.  I cannot sit in a room without smiling at some returning memory, and as warmth returns to my frozen heart, I take stock.  Weighing all of my options carefully, I balance from foot to foot, leaning this way, then that.  I am a pendulum, wavering, uncertain whether or whither to swing.  I am a clock, stopped still the day you left me, and only now beginning to find my rhythm once more.  As the shallow tick-tock of life creeps up my spine and tickles my veins into action, so the thaw begins.  I must be wary, lest my wintry organs melt to a spring flood of love, and I, swept along by my own strong current, am drowned by it.  Suffocated, helpless.  A fisher, tangled and caught in my own nets and snared by traps of my own devising, struggling to break free.  Wary indeed.  As my love for you had become a mantra – words of comfort to be spoken before sleep and upon waking; My ‘I love you’s with their reedy echo in the damp morning air, somehow growing to a rope with which to hang myself – and swing I did, groaning in pain and tormenting myself minutely with your voice, your face, your scorn, derision, pity.  Tearing myself down, piece by piece, until I had ceased to be.  Where once I stood, proud and strong, shining brightly for all to see – lay a stone.  My rougher edges smoothed to a bland pebble.  My glittering core dulled by your swell and smashed on rocks of my own choosing.  Broken and without pattern, without hope of re-making, mending, rebirth.  I lie here, and I am troubled.  That I still harbour feelings for you does not pain me or even shame me to action.  Nothing I could do to myself or to others could change that fact.  That these feelings grow stronger despite our mutual distance frightens and excites me.  I thought I had no more tears, and now I often don’t know whether to laugh or cry.  I can feel again.  What I thought had to have gone forever has returned to me.  Now I find myself at a crossroads with a choice.  Do I go onward?  Or do I turn back?

The dangers of depression

Misery breeds company,
So don’t you wear a frown!
Before you know what’s hit you:
Fore-head-lines all over town.
A fashion will be started
And will catch the world alight –
Then anarchy will reign supreme
As sobbing fills the night.

A breathing space while waiting

I take a breath, to clear my head
My stomach sings a hungry tune
My eyes are tired, my legs like lead
Freezing here beneath the moon.
I wish I could awake my mind
Some beauty I should love to find,
But closed-up shops
And ticking clocks
Are all the night will offer me.

A dismissal

If beauty is in the eye of the beholder,
Why then do I find you so ugly?
And how is it that
I resent holding you close?
You are not part of me.
You are no reminder of love.
You have brought me nothing but hate.
I feel the burden of you –
I cannot carry you,
You weigh me down!
Leave me.

Scenery

Treetops in the sunlight, rushing by the window, bearing their burdens proudly, majestically, regally. No meek shall inherit the earth, but long after we are but dust, the trees and plants will march ever onward, holding their standards high, gaily waving green-clad boughs in the cool of the evening, and rustling to give their best to the breeze and receive the whisper of news in return.