River days

Anxieties pulses hard as normal, backed up by the diet of coffee and protein bars, tiredness is seeping into her muscles as she spins the crank here comes the blankness, that beautiful place where she just feels everything, the bike feels different underneath her geared as it is in comparison to her usual ride but at the end of the day a bike is a bike, somewhere down the river she decides to just stop and eat, there’s an old motorway bridge that shes spent hours under watching the life of the river play out, down here there aren’t any questions just life and at some point her head stops while she eats and drinks.

As ever the dog is on his own mission they’ve travelled together for years to the point where there are some places where if people don’t see the small dog they walk straight past her then double take when she talks to them becoming embarrassed about their failure to recognise her, not something she has an issue with she s quite happy to be invisible. Some people have called it cynical but she s never brought into the idea that you have to stamp your presence onto the world as largely as possible, she’ll happily admit to feeling disorientated when she’s forced to be in groups of people that have to aggrandise everything preferring to be with one or two like minded folk out here .

Part of the reason she doesn’t talk about stuff is she s got used to the looks on peoples faces when they find out what she’s been up to or what she s done where she’s been, it used to tweak her now she mainly finds it funny just the expressions people faces go through trying to reconcile the really obvious thing about her and the story their hearing then the nervousness as they try to work their own assumptions, that s one of the things that does still annoy her the kind of person she is means that shes constantly reminded of the fact that people don’t actually really see each other and the whole thing feels like she s the one doing all the placating all the time, so yeah every given opportunity she steps off and just goes her own way filing off the edges that build up and make her feels like she going under.

The dog charges out of the undergrowth barking sharply repeatedly and happily chasing something she cant catch with her eye, she knows he wont catch it if he was going to do that it would be dead already, its just the chase for the hell of it, now there’s a phrase, just for the hell of it, how much of her life can be contained in that, if she’s honest most of it, there’s only one thing that she never felt like she never had any real choice in so in the end shed stopped fighting it and that hadn’t turned out to bad far from easy and not spectacularly comfortable or any of the other big words that get thrown around but just, sometimes she felt like she was chickening out by describing things as “just” because other people read that as her being dismissive but that couldn’t be further from the truth, if she was asked to explain it shed simply say that shed never felt in control of anything so shed “just” done and that had been enough to just be to feel to see to breathe, and if that meant having to live with all the confusion both hers and others well as far as she was concerned it was more than worth it.

The sound of a boat coming up the river makes her smile to herself there’s a jolly roger flying of the back of it, obviously a live aboard as it doesn’t have the buy the dream for a week markings that the holiday boats do, on its bow sits a black Labrador who barks at the sight of her dog and the two exchange yelps and shouts as the boat moves through, the driver waves and calls out and she does the same back the moment of intimacy makes her smile and she daydreams as the barge moves off toward the outskirts of the city its funny how in this country of millions of cameras and ever tightening grip you can still find ways of moving betweens the lines, escaping the increasingly off the peg lifestyle choices, like that’s something that makes her smile you know im this kind of person that does this sort of thing and I wear these sort of clothes, funny because she was so acutely aware of hoe far avoiding her own identity had pushed her until she woke up and realised that she was happy being a bit of a car crash and that she finally felt like she made some sort of sense to herself, and t her that’s where the truth of it all she finally made sense to herself, the whole point of it had been to make sense to herself ,she clung to that idea like some kind of mantra often needing to remind herself of it, she’d gotten completely used to living with her cycles which she completely believed if an “expert” were to find out about they would happily give her a label and bag full of stuff to help her “function” better in fact they had or at least that’s the way some would see it, but as far as she was concerned she functioned fine, although many would debate that.

She lay back in the long grass just disappearing into the sounds around her, the traffic on the bridge above her becoming a kind of lullaby as it mixed in with the sounds of the river life, her head made up stories of where all the travellers were going sons and daughters mothers fathers husbands and wives and all the endless mixes that make up life cars full of singing families and sulking teenagers lovers and friends going to festivals funerals shopping centres day trips and all the business you know the really important stuff that makes the web function, freight and buses full of pensioners all that world she always felt slightly apart from but loved watching, occasionally she dipped a toe in it but more often than not would run screaming as she very quickly became overwhelmed so she did it less and less often and tended to be very strategic about it strategic ha that’s not something she would ever have called herself but you know harm reduction and all that, even the idea of that phrase made her giggle a Branded term that gets passed around by knowing people in meetings that still just comes back to shutting up and doing as your told something shed never been able to actually make sense of after putting so much energy into getting to where she is just occupying the space she was offered was never going to be an option so shed decided to just not engage, a choice which in its own right had had some interesting outcomes but she even at her most fragile and vulnerable she never forgot that this was her choice her decision and that was the single hardest thing to make sense of that being so fragile so vulnerable actually made her really powerful, she’d tried to talk to folk abut it but always just got tongue tied so now she didn’t ,sure some got through to her saw what was there but for everyone that did there were a hundred that didn’t and shed gotten used to that a long time ago

despite maybe in spite of all the evidence to the contrary she refused to see the world as hostile all the time and it would sting her when she tried to tell people how in love with life she was and just got a wall of pain back so more and more she just let them see what they wanted to see and went about her life, she was intimately aware of how horrific things could be and had almost made a mission out of finding the magic in places that you might not expect to find it, some had said over the years that her world view meant that she wasn’t dealing with anything and at one point shed nearly agreed but here’s the confusing bit if she’s not dealing with anything how come she’s here laying in the grass on the bank of a river watching two crows fight a buzzard,

When she’s in the city all this stuff in her head feels like weight like pressure like a dragging anchor, but jump on the bike head out of the city and it all changes just becomes flow its value gets taken away but the fact that she no longer surrounded by the noise which even in itself she thinks can be beautiful when she’s in the right mood, just hearing the world play out around her and watching the tides move through the concrete narrows as life unfolds.

That was one of her big moments starting to think of the city the way she thinks of the sea you know tides eddies flows all that stuff, from that point shed been able to find ways of interacting with it that didn’t leave her feeling like she was permantley at war with everything around her which in turn had led to it just becoming a big playground again, but that’s a different story and has nothing to do with laying by a river, she dozes of for awhile sleeping really comfortably and feeling the dog bury himself into the small of her back, sleepily smiling to herself about the strange picture they must make the dog curled into the crook made by her legs with her bike d locked to her ankle so it doesn’t get stolen, head on her messenger bag yeah not the sort of thing that most people would expect to find on a river bank in the English countryside,

The breeze picks up and she stirs waking and forgetting she’s locked her bike to herself ending up in a tangle of limbs and a startled dog, she gives him a treat and necks a half litre of water and peanut butter hiking bar stretches out and stands while ruffling his ears, do we carry on or do we go back to walls, its never really a difficult question to answer she stretches her legs throws her bag over her shoulder then rides of down the trail, behind her there’s a single bark and then the sound of her co pilot starting to lope, they move easily down the river bank in a dance the two of them have played out in so many places she disappears into the feeling of her muscles moving and her breath changing while he tears about occasionally chasing ducks or piling into the hedge row sometimes vanishing for ten minutes and they re appearing with half a tree that he insists on attempting to drag down the riverbank, one of the coolest things about the dog is everybody notices him and doesn’t really pay attention to her, they pass urban mountain bikers dressed for the alps out getting muddy and most likely day dreaming as much as she is, some give her the serious cycling look appraising her bike and bag before nodding as they fly past lost in their alpine fantasies taking up as much space as they do in every place in their lives occasionally she hears brakes squeal as one of them stops suddenly because the dog doesn’t agree with their route choice, she wonders about camp site choice for the night picturing idyllic clearings with a couple of nice trees and a pretty view, but also knowing that its England and she’s gonna wind up squirrelled in a gap somewhere with the tarp tied low hoping they don’t get caught, in the end she decides where its going to bei little finger of land on an oxbow that has a clump of mixed rowan and ash with a single oak that just sends her straight back to her childhood ,she’s camped there before and knows they’ll be OK, decision made she stops thinking and just loses herself in the flow, feeling the breeze and the sun wash the anxiety out of her no words just feeling, a state she’s spent most of her life in and It feels good to just have everything fall away, so much time gets spent with people having to have answers and fixed point and all that stuff that when she gets to step away she disappears really easily its not the way her life plays out sometimes that exhausts her but the urgency that everyone places on stuff so she just lets go

the thing about feelings is well there just there and if you try to avoid them they become monsters but if you just let them happen well they just happen and that’s all there is to it and if she completely honest about stuff she learnt along time ago not to fight that sort of stuff so now she’s like yeah that’s how I feel and this what im gonna do with iti guess that might seem simple but if anything its far from it and she still feels like she regularly makes a mess of it except these days she doesn’t let it turn into the end of the world and just rolls, no longer trying to make sense of stuff that just wont.

The tree line starts to open up and she realises that while she was lost in butterfly thought they’d covered a lot more ground than shed realised the small one had fallen behind but she could see his tail straight up in the air as he just loped forwards closing the distance between them and she reached into her bag and got out the bag of kibble and packet of dog meat filling one bowl with food and not worrying about a water dish he’d sort that for himself once she’s done that she strings the tarp up and then puts water on for coffee all focused without thinking at this point doing these things are so automatic that she just smiles while she goes about the work, as the water comes to a boil she lifts the pot off and pours sitting back against the oak she looks out to the heron on the mud bank and smiles
like she didn’t say no words, just feeling.

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~ by xpolx on July 24, 2016.

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