Saturday, August 13, 2005

A Beginning 

Memoirs of a Holiday
Day One - Friday 5th August 2005

Cat Stevens plays on the CD player as I cook dinner. For just the two of us; the first time for twenty-five years that we’ve been away on holiday together without any of our children; not even an occasional weekend away in those intervening years. The apartment in which we’re staying is on the top floor: light, airy and spacious, and I feel a lightness entirely in keeping with the elevation. The music’s rhythms, at once gentle and lively, want to flow through me; I might dance if I knew how, although that might not mix too well with dinner preparations. But the music takes my hands anyway; its life-force is too strong to be resisted so even the simplest of tasks – slicing vegetables, laying the table – share the flow of the music, and I sing quietly under my breath. Cat Stevens played to us some thirty years ago too, although he was on vinyl back then – strange how his voice has improved with the passing years.

Passing years – so full, so busy; how can we have lived so close all that time and still not really know each other? We know all the details that mark out the edges of each other’s lives – I could choose your clothes, or pick a menu, or a movie to see or music to hear and I’d be right most of the time. I know how you’ll react in almost any situation – and you, I – life can be so predictable it sometimes seems hardly worth the bother of playing out the details. Perhaps that’s where the sense of adventure, of excitement, went – with no uncertainty, no surprises, it went off to find pastures new.

In learning to predict the disagreements and conflicts, we also learned to avoid them. We only sidestep them though – they’ve not vanished, they’re still there, still real, we just choose to tread a path around them instead of trying to bulldoze a way through. Strange then that we haven’t taken the same trouble to learn to recognise how the good things come when they do; if we had, wouldn’t instinct now draw us towards them as surely as it steers us around the bad things? One of life’s enigmas…

We know the details so well, you and I. Yet after all this time, so much is still unknown -although had it formed sufficiently to be known twenty five years ago? A tiny seed perhaps; buried, barely germinated, then grown in secret in the intervening years - can it now be a gift, each to the other? A gift twenty five years in the making?

The weight of those years falls away; who’d have believed it? All those ties, those hands that clamour to drag down, shrugged off in a moment. Unencumbered now by the worries that have been gathered over the years, freedom beckons – to do and be whoever it is that lies within that circle bounded by all those details that mark only the periphery, the outer border of being,

And you? Can I help to lift a similar weight from your shoulders too? Can we both draw back the curtain and share what we have each become? The joys touched, the pain held, the times our souls have stood naked under the stars wondering, gazing, searching – and alone? Would we stand thus together, fingers shyly reaching out to meet and touch? And will we fall willingly together, without fear, into the pit, so deep the sky shrivels to a tiny dot lost above our heads? And rise together, each buoyed by the radiance of the other? And fall and rise again and again, however many times life asks it of us, with no weariness, only love?

A line has been drawn, in a way I had not thought possible. A possibility has become real - no mere fantasy. Can it be that I have at last understood that I am free? That when I go from here, whichever way, for better or for worse, is entirely my own choice and limited only by my own imagination?

It was, and remains, a hope. For a moment, a vision of the possible became real. Such visions rarely retain their clarity, but at least now I have its picture to remind me.

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