Wednesday, October 10, 2012

On a double-decker bus between Glasgow and Manchester

A crisp autumnal morning with frost still bright in the early  morning sun, she blinks once, twice, before turning away from the window. It will be their first night apart. She is thinking of warm knot of his limbs and the wool blankets before the sun had risen, and wondering if now that she is used to sleeping in sanctuary she will be afraid of the dark. This seems a legitimate worry, and so she closes her eyes.

When she wakes she is in another country. The paddocks are smaller and the fences meticulously maintained. Turning to look at a sign for the way back as it whizzes past - SCOTLAND - and the signs ahead warning her that the bus is taking her to the SOUTH, the SOUTH shouted as though the traveller did not understand the foolishness of choosing such a destination. Farmland has given way to something that can only be described as 'countryside': a land without urban sprawl but so utterly domesticated there is not even the ghost of rural to be sniffed. The spaniard in the seat in front takes photo after photo of the motorway. Impressions of Preston are endless scenes from The Bill, now years forgotten and the hairdressers and bathroom shops boarded up with greyed wood the sprayed tags of delinquents now long married and mortgaged unseen almost lost in the grain.

She wants to say this is not Scotland, does not feel like Scotland, but she doesn't know Scotland. She wants to say Manchester is the windy-street version of Glasgow but she knows neither city.

Dinner is three boys, the parents, and her. Her second appearance in this household and the boys are no longer locked boxes in her presence. The dialogue that frolics between them is not loud nor boisterous, but full of energy and attention. There is no competition between them, which she marvels at. She thinks of her own brother as distant from her as is physically possible, and the lack of antagonism between them that had been and always would be. She thinks of these three boys who will grow up to be their own people, and thinks of distance, and how irrelevant it can be.

Standing on the floor of the Manchester Arena she puts her hand to her chest where the bass trembles in her lungs and ribs, and beneath her palm she can feel her body shudder as the music moves through it. Here there is no identity. She is no longer an autonomous body but part of the organism that is the audience, the crowd, the consumer of sound. A single cell at the beck and call of invisible energy; she sings, howls, stomps and pumps. Sweat that is not hers. Eyes aching in the strobing lights. Neck craned over shoulders. All these miles and years and this cleanses her still, again, ultimately. It is to cede her boundaries, those intangible ways in which she holds herself apart from how she absorbs the world, and in doing so ceases to be. This happens in Melbourne, Buenos Aires, Berlin, Reykjavík, here. The ideal of her falls back into place with every step from the floor.

Just in time she looks up to see 'Welcome to Scotland' flash by the window. It is a nondescript standard highway sign, more than a little anti-climactic. None around her appear to notice nor care. She strives to identify any difference in the world out the window, but there is none.

It has been 33 hours and when she arrives in Glasgow she is starving, dehydrated and in dire need of a toilet. Priority of wellbeing, her feet take her straight into the pub, to the back, to his arms.

She is thinking of adventures and the exhilaration of solitary jaunts into the world. She is thinking of the home she finds in him. She is thinking of all the things she never expects, including herself.


  1. <3 reading you.

    <3 you.


  2. Your writing. Your stories. Your love. You.


  3. As always, descriptive and lovely to read.