Train Journey from Canterbury to Brighton
Leaving is an addiction.
A state of mind.
A force urging forward and away.
Sitting on the train, my travelling body negotiates the visual imprints of its journey. The train, sliding along the tracks, curves through the snowy landscape. The Earth is seemingly still and forgetful. My body swaying, pen in hand, translates the subtle vibrations of the moving vehicle into a virtual landscape.
My mind travels back to the station to complete an unfinished journey of the heart. I see the traces of our parting; the marks of my suitcase in the snow; the shape of our breath disappearing into the cold platform air. Words, suspended in zigzags, fall into a gap. Silence. Time draws itself into a knot. Entangling in itself, searching for an escape route. How will she know that I’m hurting, if I’m always already somewhere else?
Nothing but a signature
A stain of ink in the corner of time
A brief statement in steep silence
Something left for someone else to clear up
I smoke half a cigarette and leave it to burn in the coconut shell used as an ashtray. The smoke escapes through the narrow opening in the window. I envy it briefly and start making coffee. As I wait for it to cook I stand on one leg to remind myself that I am here to stay. If I leave, I will get distracted! The coffee will boil over, and the mark will stay there for days!
Staying is a (complicated) art, but an easy one to practice. Prepare to take a step forward with your right. As your foot leaves the ground, stay, balancing on your left. Then continue the step, placing your right foot on the ground. Before you let your left land, stay, balancing on your right. Then, complete the step by landing on your left, and stay there. Forever. When you honestly feel that there is no future. Take a step back.
With my finger I draw a curving line on the steaming kitchen window; A memorized journey from Canterbury to Brighton dated two years back. Translating it into steps, I walk the shape of my journey on the cold kitchen floor, the wall being the end of the page. Measuring my steps I curve with it awkwardly, like visiting a familiar place with alien feet. When I reach the end, I start walking backwards, tracing the lines of my journey to its starting point. I turn slightly to the left, two steps back, and we almost touch as you leave through the kitchen door. I make it back to the stove just in time for the coffee not to spill over.
Sudden changes of direction
I used to get an urge to leave the city every now and again. I would drive without stopping watching the landscape change as I go. After a couple of hours of driving I would leave the main road, look for a place to park the car, and somewhere under a tree, I would make coffee. I’d place the pot on a small flame. Fill it almost to the top with water. Cover with a dense layer of black coffee, and wait. When it’s ready I would have a few sips, take a deep cardamom breath, and then I would feel ready to go back to the city.
There are no straight lines in my journey. My body rocks along a promenade of pointy repetitions. Another gap. A failing of ink. A heart beat. A distraction. A familiar pattern of discontinuity.
Two winters back. Up the toe freezing hill, thighs gripping to the bone. The stubborn lock refuses us at first so we pretend we didn’t care if we got in or didn’t. I observe you struggle in the street-light snow.
A Parallel Journey
The enjoyment of being tied up in knots
I pull myself out of you so I can stay still. You never stop. You once sent me a photograph of yourself posing as a tourist under a 2000 year old tree, time hanging around you both.
I enjoy observing you in silence; Pushing off anchor feet, rocking the pelvis to come up, asking questions out loud with your body. Maybe it can be a spin to the ground somehow, you say. The easiest way is often the best. Your arm starts to rotate, and your leg just finds it. Maybe there are many others all around, you say with your eyes. You look away and everyone shifts with your gaze, like a flock, moving faster than time.
You woke me early this morning shaking the dust off the curtains. I peel myself off your skin and take the curtains to the laundrette. We meet again briefly at the One Stop Shop both holding a carton of milk. Yours is semi skimmed. We recycle a bit of conversation from last night and part.
I ask myself how long things last, and what it takes for them to settle. You promise calmly that they will set themselves.