Saturday, January 05, 2008

Meandering through foggy streets in a strange place...

I went to Fraser's Hill because a fire was in my brain. Like Yeats and that hazel wood. I didn't see the silver apples of the moon and the golden apples of the sun, but I did spend a lot of time by myself writing and reading.

I wandered lonely as a ghost through foggy winding streets at night in short-sleeved tee-shirts and shorts. I kept myself warm with a bellyful of wine. Wine on an empty stomach is kind of vertiginous. I was falling, falling, falling...

When it got too cold, I crawled into my bed-curtained, four-poster bed (I was staying at the Smokehouse and as the staff were only too pleased to point out, it tried to retain its 1920s charm), pulled up the covers and shivered drowsily.

Not that I slept. Drunk as I was, I couldn't.

It was New Year's Eve and my phone connection was wonky (I couldn't receive calls and texts were intermittent at best). I wrote furiously into my journal and just before midnight peeled off my clothes because it seemed more honest to see in the year naked, cold as I was.

Yes. To be naked was to be free of artifice or at least, freer than this.

The hotel was famous for ghosts and they invited me to come out and play. Friendly ghosts who creaked and rustled and listened to me pouring out my madness and misery until I was empty and ready to fade.

I sent a friend the following message:

I have gone out, a possessed witch,
haunting the black air, braver at night;
dreaming evil, I have done my hitch
over the plain houses, light by light:
lonely thing, twelve-fingered, out of mind.
A woman like that is not a woman, quite.
I have been her kind. Happy New Year!

And I had. I just don't remember when.

The old-fashioned streetlamps glowed yellow in the fog sending forth cupolas of light that stood out in the misty whiteness illuminating nothing. Diamonds flowed from the pine tree leaves onto the parked cars. I sat cross-legged on a park bench outside the hotel wrapped in nothing but complacency and watched. Some cars sped by looking for parties but it was Fraser's Hill and there were none. At least, there was supposed to be one, at Pine's, and I went looking for it, driving drunk on narrow unilluminated windy streets and got lost.

Blackest night.

Unfamiliar roads.

Head not right.

I found my way to the town centre and parked. Getting out to greet the hot dog guy. I thought I would see in New Year's with him, over a hot dog, but I finished my dog and it was still half and hour to, and I decided it would be less lonely to see it in alone. So I wiped my sticky hands on my t-shirt, tipped him generously, wished him a Happy New Year and took off.
Back to the hotel, to sleep perchance to dream.

Ay, that was the rub.

But I didn't sleep (no, not even the sleep of death and no dreams came).

A few more text messages, another glass of wine...and I huddled under the thin blankets feeling something tear inside.

Then it was morning and I woke up just in time for breakfast. And went back to sleep after, hungover.

I wandered through the friendly roads, and leaves brushed silently against my face.

Someone asked me: "Miss are you alone?"

I said: "Yes."

He said: "Do you want to come on a trail and look at the birds? We have beautiful birds here. I'm taking some Japanese guests and you can tag along for free. It's an easy trail. You'll like it."

It was kind.

But I wanted to be left alone.

So I said: "Thanks."

And didn't go.

I've made up my mind about some things.

And not about others.

I have ridden in your cart, driver,
waved my nude arms at villages going by,
learning the last bright routes, survivor
where your flames still bite my thigh
and my ribs crack where your wheels wind.
A woman like that is not ashamed to die.
I have been her kind.

Happy New Year.


Nessa said...

Beautiful words.

True self discovery is a very lonely journey. We must think and feel and decide alone. The testing is done with others. And then we begin again.

Jenn said...

Don't think I'm ready to get back in with the others quite yet.