April 20th 1995. New Zealand.
Light split through the canopy of trees shining down rays onto the forest floor, parrots squawked flying in blurs of colour while the clicks of unknown insects formed a layer of sound that could never be pin pointed. It was warm and the stream was cool to the touch, mud squelching pleasantly through bare little toes, the moss on the bark moist to the touch. A hundred ferns sprung up covering the forest floor and not a man-made sound could be heard for miles except for the little excited breath that ran through the undergrowth.
February 7th 2014. London.
Sanctuary, that memory that is a little blurred, a secret like an old moleskin journal forgotten as much as the first kiss, still painful like the last, the one that is remembered on trains or in coffee shops. Idle traffic lights and lazy birds. London, a city of shuffling feet and one stop bus journeys that only serve to take us to the next currency exchange. Days at desks and nights in the gym and perhaps a dream somewhere in the middle that elicits some relief.
April 1st 2009. Thailand.
Music pumped out of subbed speakers while the smell of sweat and alcohol lingered under the strobe lights. The beats became deafening and I opted out of the next round of buckets for the hotel room. Blood still coursing with its ball room partner, like a dance my mind whirled around. As I walked across the little island market towards sleep the waltz guided my legs instead to the beach. Still sweaty from the club I stripped off making for the water. The long expanse of sand deserted, swimming out further and further until the shore felt too far to return to, a distant memory floated by. Lying on the surface facing the stars, the universe opened up, an unknown abyss stretched out before me and I swam into it willingly.
September 15th 2008. London.
Bright lights, fashion galore and so many new people to meet. Discovering places at the simple top-up of an oyster, everything at your fingertips. So different from the countryside, no hour wait for a bus here. Excitement that quickly withdrew when it was established that consumerism and killer instincts built a career, names were important especially how many you knew. Fast learning was required to establish a settlement and like the new world it was all done on the pretence of someone believing they were more superior. The forest, my dog and my country life seemed very far away.
August 4th 2013. Covent Garden.
Summer in the Garden again, my favourite time and place in the city. Here it is alive, well known enough to be sophisticated with boutique coffee shops and brogue filled jazz bars but with a flow of tourists in the centre that could easily be avoided if you knew the way through the maze of side streets. Basement bars made of walls of cocktails and subtle lights creating a soft mood to suit any palate. Here I find my way, my own way through streets familiar to my regular places. The atmosphere in summer is so light, like a romantic song, umbrellas in the sun. The same light as sanctuary and so some feeling of it too, the cobbled streets and easy laughter fills the air with trees greening them like an old Forties movie.
June 4th 2013. Thailand.
Lying down rocking slowly the motion both pleasant and soothing as a breeze lightens the bright hot sun. Waves slosh against the boat ploughing through the endless sea. An old feeling re-kindled, a fire that fills every muscle with a misplaced freedom. Every day on the boat or across the island on a small moped searching for another hidden beach where bare arms would reach for the sea again and quick legs would scour the rocks to great heights, scaling boulders with no eyes on your back just the heat of the sun and the sounds of the island for company.
November 16th 1997. New Zealand.
Pulse racing as the gate creaks under a clumsy movement before I’m up and over to perch on the top, leaning out for a mane that lingers just out of reach. He moves closer so I can touch him, brushing his soft nose on my face. An unconditional love, escaping the world of rules and regulations, I slip onto his back and cling on with firm determination. He swings around suddenly into a canter and into the direction of the mountains, his soft gait feels like the speed of sound, no stirrups support my bare feet, no saddle to hold onto just the trust I have in my friend and the feeling of flying again. The others move to join us running along beside him and the feeling of belonging to something more overwhelms the senses, leaving open hands to welcome the sky.
July 16th 2013. Austria.
Some hair escapes into the wind and streams behind as we go faster on the bike, deeper into the mountains. Snow-capped peaks and ever green forests remind me of my sanctuary, the memories I so desperately avoid. It comes back again, the feeling of being free, my arms tight around his waist as we speed past waterfalls tumbling down rocks. We stop in a valley where more waterfalls feed into a lake, iridescent blue under the watchful gaze of the mountains surrounding it. This was meant to be a romantic, a good day. But it only served as a reminder that the rest of my time plays futile games to divert away from the memory that always pulls at the heart.
February 9th 2014.
Painting a perfect portrait of a future everyone else sees, the memory like a 40p postcard in comparison to the responsibility of success in this vast prison of glass windows. An unconscious thought that lingers in the open like a wild animal that has strayed out of its habitat into unknown territory. Conforming to the same paths, well-trodden trails where you bump into the line of people ahead of you and everything comes to a standstill. Curiosity tempts all creatures away from the path but few have the courage to leave it and make their own. Wherever you are the sparks of a fire will light up those memories, a passion that runs deep within, some people feel it calling and some people don’t. I feel that in a way it would be a kindness not to, as living a life torn is both incredibly painful and wonderful at the same time.