Sunday, January 14, 2007
Stagger into the Light
I am so fed up at the moment. As my Mum would say, fed up "to the back teeth". I feel at the moment like my life is being lived on a high wire, and I am some untrained circus performer who was just minding her own business taking money for the show before being dragged up there by a couple of brutish clowns without a safety net. This isn't what I signed up for. Though one gets to experience a certain existential wisdom and inner knowledge at such times as these, I have to say, as a compensation for how bollocks everything can feel, that is not the greatest source of comfort to me.
And yet, it has its moments. After working out my finances and discovering that I have a total of 27p to live off for the whole month of February, hearing that my Mum's health had taken another turn for the worse and realising that I do not know what the fuck I am doing with my life at the moment, on any single level, today I prised myself out of my hidey hole and took to the sea-front in what felt like my very last attempt at bothering with life and its doings at all.
And I was startled by beauty. All along the prom, out far from the shore, in each direction, East and West, from Shoreham harbour up past Palmeira Square, Sussex Heights to the Palace Pier and beyond, the afternoon light fell like strands of golden hair over the coastline, over and around the enormous mass of human beings enjoying the first clear blue sky day in Brighton for weeks. The tall cream buildings lining the road past Hove Lawns stood quietly luminous and everything I saw was softening in the glow of the afternoon. I tilted my head back and felt the skin on my face lit up by the gleam of the sky.
It is a wonder to walk the prom on a day like today. To witness life, to smell the sunlight, to feel the blueness of the air all around. It all becomes part of one single movement - the puppy in a green coat chasing its tail, the flat bodies of surfers, faces pressed to their boards, bodies black and shiny, waiting for a wave to break. The bare curved torso of a teenage boy as he skateboards down the pavement disappearing into a crowd of parents and prams, women selling trilby hats, a man selling hippy clothes, and thirty something media professionals recovering from the night before. The white lips of the waves coming in, the dark of the West Pier, the pinks, yellows and blues of the beach huts, the arc of a seagull wing, the smell of chips from the sea front cafe, the glittering row of hotels shrinking into the distance.
I pass huge dogs, tiny dogs, silly dogs, magnificent dogs, swimming dogs, sniffing dogs, dogs whose eyes look like they hold the key to every soul within them and I want to take every single one home with me. I decide: I will open a dog sanctuary, no, I will live in the country with twenty working dogs for company, no, I will ask one of the owners politely if it is hard work looking after their dog, and then gently offer to take it of their hands as an act of compassion.
I wasn't expecting this. I wasn't expecting to be lifted, or to feel joy for no other reason at all than being here, now, in this perfect sunlit scene. On the way home I took the last money from my purse and detoured up to Tesco's, threw caution to the wind and bought a chocolate cake, from their 'finest' range. I took my £1.65's worth of joy home with me, made a cup of tea, and ate a slice in silence. It has been many weeks since I have enjoyed the glory of a piece of chocolate cake, and it tasted good. Sitting in the fading sun of my front room, it tasted perfect.