Monday, January 21, 2008


There are days that begin with a strange hue, that open their curtains to a light never seen before. Today began in smoky greys that crept under my eyelids like ghosts from the sea. I'd been dreaming about a ship off the coast of Morocco. I was staying on it, taking breaks from it to visit this little village on the Moroccan coast. It was always tricky getting back out to the ship, so sometimes I would stay overnight in the village.

However, one time I had to get back to the ship. The only way to do so was to sail out to it by dinghy. This was a risky thing to do. Lots of people did it, but many got lost on the way. I had a friend who had been blown all the way to Nigeria by harsh wind currents. The golden rule was this – no matter what, you had to reach the ship before nightfall, else you would be adrift without any sense of direction, heading out into the empty ocean.

It was a strange dream, full of unhelpful people and cool characters. I undertook the journey back to the ship with a friend of mine. She turned out to be rather immature and annoying, and insisted in stopping off for food in this town we had come across, even though time was precious and night wasn’t far away. I began panicking. As we left the cafĂ©, I saw that our dinghy had been stolen. My friend and I walked up this road in search of a boat to borrow. As we did so, a Christian woman preaching the word of God came up to me. I waved her away, pre-occupied as I was by my dilemma. I didn't need her preaching; I didn’t need her agenda. My friend however, stopped and gave her a broken string of beads. She smiled.

Halfway up the road, I collapsed in despair, knowing we'd never get to the ship before nightfall. As I slumped against a wall, the woman caught up with us, a man joining her. They were talking about God. His legs were crippled. He said, to no one in particular "People ask how God could do such a thing as to make me lame. But look at these legs of mine - they are simply just different from yours. They have their own shape. They have their own beauty. I am grateful for legs like these."

As I felt myself waking up, I decided to stay in that village for the night, and set off for the ship again in the morning.

So this smoky morning is filled with that dream, and my own sadness. On a daily basis I convince myself that I am over things, I am on top of these losses that drift in and out of my life. But they weave their own spell; they inhabit my dreams, and are there when I wake up.

I think about Mum, weaving in and out of her own dreams. It is a peculiar kind of loss, I think, to mourn those still alive. But every loss has its own sad flavour and each bleeds into the other. I am missing my friend, David, and his death has its own mystery and shock. I am also missing what I could have had, had my life been different and I'd made different choices. I don't regret, but I do mourn.

Today isn't a heavy, foreboding kind of grey. It is light and wispy as a mouse’s fur. It fills the streets outside and the air in the sky over Brighton. It curls around the pier like a tail and disperses with the seagulls taking flight. I breathe it in and swallow, feel it welling up in my eyes. I realise that my heart is a slate, and I write my longings on it with a soft piece of chalk. I don't know how to say goodbye. If I could write that; that is what I would say.

I've got a new teapot, a lovely green and glassy Christmas present. It is sitting on my table under the window and, magically, looks like it has always been there. I have a not-so-secret belief that tea cures everything. So I dry my eyes and put the kettle on, warm the pot. This magic ritual is a supreme comfort; it is an act of love. I don't want to open my doors to anyone today. I want to hide with my teapot and my chalky heart until day passes into night. But life isn't made like that. Things press on. I must open my curtains and move.

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