3.4.18 Center Parcs neighbours
I've spent long months craving this and now I'm here, I don't know what to do with myself. 'Here' is a lodge with my family on the edge of a lake, under bare alder tree and pine. The air is wet and if you run a finger along any branch, you loosen a rain-shower. All is muted brown and green and grey; all is perfect. I can hardly bear to look directly at it.
It has made me quiet. The footpaths here run with loud, unfamiliar faces. I find I want to stay close to the house beyond even what my limited mobility necessitates. I retreat to corners to watch and test my place in things. I keep my gaze low, looking up and out at the overlap of branches only sometimes, after a deep breath. I don't know why I feel so small and vulnerable, but I do. Pain has been sharp and that hasn't helped. I feel like I must keep myself held in so I don't give myself away. It feels pathetic to describe it so, but there it is.
I think maybe I have grown too used to safe silence, to sparse beauty that is sought-out and peeked at, not this abundance of it. I have grown used to solitude. I am dazzled and noise-numbed, jumping at every cupboard bang and companionable bustle, even here in the lodge with the family I have known all my life. I smile through it and love through it but something in me is all flinch.
I find I need to be outside and alone whenever possible and when the others are happy and busy, I have taken to dragging a chair a few steps away from the house, leaning on it as I go, step by step through the muddy ground, until I am out and under the trees and there is nothing in my vision but bark and water, the public paths hidden and distant. The wildlife is abundant. Pink-footed geese and their Canadian cousins share our grass with almost-grown cygnets. Ducks snooze while coots and moorhens pick around them. There is always a squirrel on the patio table and a quiet pair of chaffinches, all watched over by rock doves, huddled in the trees.
It is the rabbits I love best though.
They live in the lake bank and have learnt a boldness. I pull up the chair to sit. Within ten minutes of me staying still, they are lolloping around my feet, and finally something in me begins to loosen. I have been sad, I realise. Sad and disappointed in myself. I wanted to embrace all this. I wanted to do better. To give more, to do more - I don't know - and now I'm here I can't. I can do very little but hunch and watch and try to love the things and people around me best I can, and I am trying to understand why.
One rabbit stops to wash itself, paws pulled rhythmically over nose and head, and I am tempted to copy, to pull at my ears until they stretch. To crouch till I shrink and finally, in the form I belong in, to burrow into the dark home of the bank and find soft, congruous fur against my flank, quiet heartbeats, pink tongues. I think then I would feel all right.
I so rarely know how to be acceptable. How to be unwild. We tend to love to talk of being 'wild' in human terms - as something exciting and sexy, the stuff of movies and pin-ups - but when you watch wild things, you begin to understand that this is not what wildness means. It is nothing so conveniently pleasing.
To be wild, truly, is to be skittish, capricious, trusting of few. It is to be pulled to home and warmth and the sensory comfort of familiar bodies, not to newness and excitement. To be wild is to be wary, heeding instinct louder than promise. To be wild is to want to be known only to those who see you for love, not for prey, and to not to have too many eyes on you at once. It is to crave simplicity - an undisturbed spot, a full belly, a body that knows itself. To be wild is to be drawn to sing one perfect song over and over and for that to be enough for you to belong where you are. It is to live close to death and change but not let it panic you into worse. It is to steer yourself endlessly towards the things that nurture you, to be unable to stop or deny yourself.
I am wild, and this is why I struggle here, struggle a little everywhere that does not fully feel like home. Out here amongst the other wild things, there is some comfort in that.
I have told the truth and written it out. That is what nurtures me most. In a moment, I will go to bed and lie down in the dark beside the sleeping shape of my son and I will feel good again.
I may not be able to enjoy this place in the same way as everyone else, but I will enjoy it in my own, wild way. It may not be the rakish, all-embracing, feel-good kind of being that seems most valued here and everywhere, but I bet if I tried to pick up a rabbit, it would bite. It knows itself and its limits. It trusts them, and I should trust mine.
I am enough, I am. And you are too, wild thing. You are too.