Hope

Boxes

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There’s a poetic resonance that six-years-ago a journey began, a chapter of my life started with my chronicling my packing to leave a flat, and here, a gauntlet of twists and turns later, a similar act appears to be concluding it.  Here, far in time if not in distance, I find myself surrounded by my worldly possessions, the material worth of my life, packed neatly into boxes, sealed, and waiting departure*.

Peering round at these boxes, I find it strange my life fits so easily into such compact spaces. My mind has been less easily arranged; how much simpler this endeavour would be if I could pack my emotions away, secure them with binds tight enough to hold them, at least for a time. Honestly, coming to terms with the transition I will have to make has been one of the most tumultuous things I have ever had to do. A storm in a cup. An endless wave of to-ing and fro-ing. But then, I never have been great with true uncertainty. Too many possibilities weaving through my head, I suppose.

The reality is reaching me, like ice running down my back. Seeing all my life packed away makes the truth of the matter unavoidable. There’s little I’m actually sure of in this new venture, little to hold unto as the earth becomes unsteady beneath my feet. So much is unknown**. It’s a bit like standing on a tall cliff, peering down into a dark well, unable to see how far the ground is from your face, or if there is a ground at all. Bleak and unwelcome as the cliff face may be, it’s certainly feels better to linger than to leap into the possible abyss***. Yet, I know in just a matter of days, I have to jump, straight into the unpredictable mouth of reality.

And thank Goodness for Chris, who has, in this time of storms and trepidation, been a constant reassurance; who has paced forward with all the mastery of the officer he is, and hired vans, and hauled boxes, and uttered a string of reassurance. His patience has been extraordinary.

“Tell me again, please, that it will be alright. That this is the right thing to do. That I will be okay,” I’ll say.

“It’ll be okay. You’ll be okay. This is the right thing. You’re strong.” Again and again he will answer.

“I don’t feel strong,” I’ll admit when the fear is bubbling, a kettle raising to boiling.

“You are. You could have stopped, but you’re soldiering on. Your head is at war with your heart.” He will say.

I’ve spoken about his ability to methodically assess these large undertakings without batting an eye. He compartmentalizes, evaluating what needs to be done, when and how, and who is best to do it^. All I’ve really had to worry too much about is packing; I’ve been trying to avoid contemplating life beyond the actual move, because my head racks up too many ideas about what will happen. But Chris has been thinking analytically on my behalf. Somewhere in his planning he came across the issue of my getting around, and, without prompting, purchased a bike for me^^.

His kindness continues to astound me. It makes me sure about him, if I am sure of nothing else; it makes me trust his words, his intentions and his being enough to keep venturing on. Even when it feels like teeth sinking into my heart, and the idea of leaving is just too much. Even when I can’t trust myself, I at least can trust him. There’s a lot riding on that right now. Where my feet are unsteady, his are firm, and he allows me to lean against him when I stumble. A situation becoming more frequent by the hour.

There were times when I was stowing away clothes and ornaments that I genuinely worried where I would be taking them out again. The hardest part was the books. The hardest part is always the books; the items in my life which hold the most importance, the most memories, the most value. I don’t like them shut away. I don’t like them to be far from me. That must sound strange to those who are not bibliophiles, those who have no love for words and stories. Perhaps, though, those of you who can understand, sympathize with me when I say books have souls, paper ghosts which energize a space. It hurts to condemn them to darkness in boxes – to shut their spirits away, again. They were sad. I could feel it. Without my books I am most assuredly not at home. That’s why I cannot picture releasing them from their prison, because home is a concept mush adrift. Possibly it lies at the bottom of that abyss, but also, possibly it does not.

Home is an odd idea. A house is a place where we take our boxes, if we are lucky and have wealth enough for shelter (a  luxury I am aware many suffer without), but a home is more. For everyone, a home is different. I’ve never much settled long enough in one particular abode to gain a true idea of what exactly ‘home’ is. Family? Perhaps, though mine has long since scattered^^^. Personal space? This seems a materialistic idea, but independence and creative expression have always been of value to me. Somewhere to put the books? Yes, but there’s more to it than that; more a place where the books can be free. Where I can too I suppose.

A home is a place where you gain something. Energy, love, safety, closeness, experiences, peace, a sense of self. A home comes with time and feeling; you can move house, but a true home is constructed with the mind. In all the places I have lived in Plymouth, I’ve gained something. Even the homes which broke around me, and the ones I knew would be temporary. I can pack away possessions; I can remove pictures from walls, and wrap glass figures carefully, but I cannot box my emotions, my self, things I may lose. I can’t box a home and take it with me – I must dismantle one to create another.

If I could box all those experiences, all that love and chaos and heart-break, all that closeness, the friends I’ve made and the wisdom gained, the late nights thinking, how many boxes would I have? If I could take them and box them, or pull them into a Pensieve, I wonder just how much there would be sitting before me, how much I may have forgotten^* swirling in pictures before me.

If I could stack every lesson learned the way one stacks plates, how high would the tower reach? If I could witness the pieces of my heart each time it was broken, laid out before me, how long would I be stepping on jagged pieces? If I could paint every kindness granted me, every instant of human love and compassion granted, how large would my gallery be*^?

Packing up my belonging hasn’t been fun. It’s never been an act I have enjoyed, for many reasons. I don’t know if being able to turn the abstracts real and pack them instead would be any more enjoyable, but I’m willing to bet it would be illuminating. I can recall a fair lot of it when the situation calls; a great sum must have lodged itself into my sub-conscious, retained as part of my instincts. Yet, I do ponder the idea of being able to see ten years of my existence physically before me, to see the shape and colour it all takes, to witness the sheer size of it all.

How much space would ten years take? How many boxes?

However, I am left with only the memories which are linked to the items and pictures I am packing away. Those in the books I have collected in my time here, and in the ornaments gifted me for birthdays and Christmases. In the smiling faces frozen in time.

And as I sit here among my belongings, knowing soon they will be somewhere else, contemplating, I’m really not sure how I feel about any of it, only that it all meant something, being here, only that the next place will come to mean something equally as vital.

I hope.


*This time around at least, I have been much more organised. So prepared am I, this laptop is seated on a box as I write. Twenty-one year old me would be proud of the robust organisation skills I have managed to gain recently.

**As in the unknowable, not the second (third?) generation Pokemon. You know, the ones which looked like letters? …. It might have been third gen. Come to think of it, I think it was spelled without the ‘k’. These ones in any case.

***Gosh, sorry about that metaphor folks – kinds long and forced, but makes my point I feel. I promise, when my life is more settled I’ll think of better similes, like a writer who’s better at this….  Life a leaf on the wind of knowledge…. Oh nevermind.

^He’s a warfare officer, so this stuff is somewhere in his blood now – but I’m told this is Logistics work, which encompasses a different department of the Navy. I think he would be good at it … but don’t tell him I said that. He’s pretty awesome at the navigation thing too.

^^Dubbed Peddle Pony. I’ll explain later.

^^^ The five of us now reside in four different locations, spanning three countries. I may someday calculate the hours and miles undertaken for us all to reach each other in a given year, though I think the number would be most daunting.

^*Though I’m not 100% sure if that’s how a pensieve works – can you record and take memories you don’t remember having??? … Probably not. For the sake of this post, let’s just say you can.

*^Enormous. Gargantuan and marvelous and going on forever.

A List of Small Items I Forget to be Grateful For Sometimes

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  1. The gentle hypnotizing flicker of candlelight.
  2. The deepest hour of night, when the world is so quiet, it seems as though the very stars are listening to your thoughts.
  3. Unexpected laughter, the kind you don’t see coming, when you can hardly gasp in air for the tightness of your stomach, and tears of joy roll away from screwed up eyes. The kind of laugh that makes you ugly in the most beautiful way.
  4. Human kindness – the most glorious of all mankind’s traits. How it can come from anyone at anytime in such infinite abundance. How even the simplest of actions or a few careful words can help pull a seemingly shattered heart back together.
  5. Candy floss – somebody invented an edible cloud, and a delicious one at that.
  6. Knowledge in and of itself; our ability to learn information just because we want to, and the ever expanding possibilities to do so. The world is teaming with history, culture, and science, and more so today than ever before. We need never be victims to ignorance.
  7. Words which are just fun to say, like ‘bollard’ and ‘sacrosanct’ and ‘fidget’ and ‘wielding’, words which tumble joyfully from the tongue, and sound like an alien language if repeated.
  8. Emotion – even the overwhelming waves of it, joyful or sad, or that bittersweet mixture of both; the fact that we can feel at all, is a wondrous thing.
  9. Stars. The billions and billions of them, held above us even when we can’t see them; their mystery, their potential, their ability to be both always there and already gone. The thought that all people descended from stardust long ago, making everything an irrefutable part of the Universe.
  10. Hope. The indisputable understanding that something good can and will always happen to anyone at anytime.

The Demon

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There are days you’ll fight the demons alone, and you’ll win by a landslide.

There are days you’ll fight the demons alone, and you’ll barely escape intact.

And there are days you’ll try to fight the demons alone, but someone won’t let you. A person will climb the stairs and find you. They’ll put their arms around you and kiss you, and they’ll assure you the demons are not who you are.

The person won’t run at the sight of your craziness; they won’t get annoyed at your need for reassurance. They will press you into them, like you are the most precious thing the world has ever made, and they will say “I love you, and I’m not going anywhere”.

Those words will become like a sword in your arms, a weapon with which to fight the darkness, and the demon will wither in the presence of its warmth and light.

You will win, together.

Some days, you won’t fight the demon alone, I promise.

Farewell Gabriel Garcia Marquez (1927-2014)

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“Age has no reality except in the physical world. The essence of a human being is resistant to the passage of time. Our inner lives are eternal, which is to say that our spirits remain as youthful and vigorous as when we were in full bloom. Think of love as a state of grace, not the means to anything, but the alpha and omega. An end in itself.” 
― Gabriel Garcí­a MárquezLove in the Time of Cholera

Today another literature master left our weary world behind him. Marquez was a profoundly influential Colombian author and journalist famous for his novels One Hundred Years of Solitude, and Love in a Time of Cholera. His themes often encapsulated human solitude and states of love, and have become timeless reminders of desire and hope through the 50-years of his career.

For me, Marquez is an important role model in cultural writing styles. He famously stated that he approached each book a different way, relaying on the shifts in the story to dictate his narrative rather than a given format. As such he works can be rooted together only in a few key narrative choices. Marquez encouraged participation in his readers, drawing them with a lack of detail and off-screen events, forcing them to use their own perceptions and bring themselves to a conclusion.

In 1982 Marquez was the first Colombian to win the coveted Nobel Prize for Literature, an honour he attributed to all the great artists of his homeland.

It’s always sad to know that words become echoes of the people who wrote them, to acknowledge a life has faded out from beyond them, and will now remain behind the great works as oppose to around them. I read Love in the Time of Cholera  and was taken by its themes of desire and endless devotion. The love he spoke of in his works tells of a person of great understanding about the nature of people, and that there will be no more stories created by such a unique writer is sad to conceive of.

Farewell Mr Marquez. Rest well.

Aphotic Dream

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It’s been a little while since I’ve posted, because I simply haven’t had the mindset to undertake writing in any formats of late. After the disappointment of last week, I’m still in a recovery phase, but the worst has past and thanks to some very supportive, very inspiring friends, I think I’m about back on my feet and ready to mount the creative horse once again. As soon as I get back to it, I’m sure my disposition towards the craft will revert to its regular pace, and I can at least write something, even if it is doomed to deletion. Isn’t that what every writer does anyway?

The reason I have chosen now to fill the void of empty blog pages, is not to work through writing issues again. Ultimately, that’s not what this space is for; I realise that most people, if any, don’t return here to see me have a tantrum about aspects of my work, and I do like to be entertaining. I came to this space to unfold the Stygian stories of last night’s rather vivid dream. Despite the murky creative undertones of my mind, I have been feeling positive lately, so I think my subconscious is forcing me to analyze the darker feelings of unworthiness my lack of writings have helped to supervise.

In a temple buried beneath the surface of a cliff-face, someone is screaming to be found. Unable to listen I answer their cries for help, but the passages are lined with grime and the rumbles of horrible things that I can’t see. Only a few candles light the way between the shadows and the stillness, and I slowly edge my way through crumbling hallways, and past windows that look out onto stone. Finally, I reach a large hole at the centre of the building, which if any of my hypothetical audience have played, reminded me of the impossible staircase reminiscent, nightmare prison in Silent Hill 2. The ambiance was a little more oriental, but the dynamic was the same – either I jump or I never know. When I dared jump, I heard someone start to laugh, and the click of a lever being pulled down. I landed in a swell of running water, in a room completely sealed by brick walls, and I was suddenly aware of how much danger I was in when the ceiling started to close over the aforementioned hole from which I had fallen.

Water is rising and the world is closing off, and that to my mind is hellish enough, but once the fluid has reached a certain point, I notice things crawling on the expanding surface of the ceiling; creatures suckered to the underbelly with octopi tentacles, and human bodies, but with featureless faces. I’m drawing closer to them as the cavern fills with water, but they don’t actually strike until they too are submerged. The chase ensues. I desperately swim for the narrowing gap, and they swarm like angry wasps around my being, lashing at me with their gelatin appendages, and despite having no mouths, screeching at me. Fortunately, I make it to the opening in just enough time to haul myself onto the ceiling, and the pool of water is shut off.

Now I am on the floor of a large, once well decorated space. There are lines of dusty jewels covering the walls and domed ceiling, and one shackled door on every wall. The doors open in unison, and at last people, real people, begin to filter into the space, and they’re people I know both from my real world and my fictional work. Most notably, they are all wearing the robes of a Buddhist monk; every single individual in maroon and saffron, gathering around a table at the centre of the room. They haven’t noticed me dripping wet at the corner of the space, but I lock onto two faces in particular; Andreas and Aliza. Despite having never met, as far as I am aware, outside of my dream-scape, they are walking together, heads low and hands linked. Steadily, I make my way over.

The truth of the room is quite disturbing. The human mind is capable of forming such grotesque concepts in dreams, and yet displays them to us like they’re as everyday as making toast. This aspect is what most terrified me about the nightmare; it seems that all my friends and family, and even characters I had made up, the people I loved and always wished to protect, had donned sacred religious robes and joined together in this Lovecraft inspired place to commit a suicide ritual. Andreas, whose wonder and fascination for the world often deeply moves me, was the person who explained this, and at first I refused to believe him. Next to him, Aliza, someone of great heart and fortitude, continued by informing me that the world was void of growth anyway, and so what was the point. Her statement is what leads me to believe the terrible visions are linked to my own lack of growth and creativity.

The table fell away to reveal another hole, smaller this time, and more orderly in shape and definition; it lead to nothing though; it was just a hollow pit in which I instinctively knew nothing could form, or develop, or create, or feel. Andreas told me I should join them, but I couldn’t. For the past week I have listened friends emboldening me with statements about not giving-up, and yet here I was, in a deathly, decaying temple, watching as they prepared to throw themselves into nothing. And they they did, one by one, jump down into the pit. Worse was that I didn’t cry out, or try to stop them because I didn’t want them to be hurt; I maintained my grip on Andreas and begged him not to leave me alone in this desperate situation, in a horrible, deceptive cavern form which I couldn’t see an exit. Selfishness kept me fighting for his life, not love or friendship.

Torture doesn’t describe it. It stirred the foundations of my sanity, and when I awoke, I couldn’t move. I wanted to cry, but I didn’t. Instead I looked over the faces I had seen in the crowd; my sweet Anna, my warm house-mates, characters inspired by the same mind as had given me this nightmare, old friends, and people I had only just begun to understand, and I felt guilty for not wanting to save them for any other reason than to keep myself safe. Then I looked a little deeper. All those faces, Andreas and Aliza most of all, have gone from low mindsets about the future to the attainment of very high aspirations. Many are seeking to become teachers and reaching out to formulate businesses; others I know are singers at prestigious events, my sister has recently been given a promotion, and my characters have always  fought hard in their endeavors; and yet I’ve been feeling lately like the journey to achieve my desires has barely left the ground. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I perhaps feel alone in my pursuit, while my loved ones continue forward. I’m not of course, and they have stood by me without fault, but dreams do drag up the parts of us we lock away even from ourselves.

I suppose I have been shown the alternative to their hard-work. If they had jumped off into the limbo in which I feel I now stand then they wouldn’t be anywhere either. Also, most of them are still working, much like myself, towards their goals. Despite its gray aesthetic, this nightmare is starting to have real, hopeful implications about what I should do next. I told Andreas, dream Andreas that is, that I couldn’t jump in with him. True I’m shambling around in dark corners, but I’m not a part of that void, I do possess the ability to create, and therefore I will keep trying.

Happy ending.