My heart opens as I approach Kings Lynn. An overwhelming sense of love and warmth for myself emanates through my body.
I am filled with a sense of awe and wonder at setting off once again into an unknown world, another new beginning. No one to let me down or hurt me, just myself to challenge, wonder and amaze myself, just my own mistakes to make and learn from and the joy of knowing that everything that is, everything that I have, is mine and mine alone.
I want to stop and record my feelings but I must drive. The warmth holds me for some time.
I am Day 26 alcohol free, I am setting out afresh and anew, discovering joy and happiness, walking out daily discovering feeling tall, slim and proud, with an inner contentment. Gone the chastising voice that so often resides, chattering away in my brain.
Moments later tears engulf me, huge sobbing gasps of tears, of love for all that I leave behind. Unable to bear the monotones of Radio 4 in this moment, I change channel and R.E.M., one of my favourite all time bands, plays Everybody Hurts and tears flow and flow again until I connect……. Hold On, Hold On, Hold On and I know that I will and I do.
I shed tears for the soulmate I have not yet found, tears for the wasted years of not knowing my own beauty, tears for saying goodbye to Carla who held me yesterday as I wept on hearing that I would not be bringing my own car away with me today.
Dear Carla, so thoughtful and supportive, glorious Molly, nine months old and just beginning to come into her own as a small person and the oh so sensitive three year old Edward, who could not cope with saying goodbye. I suspect he could not comprehend the reality of ‘I won’t see you for a long time for I am going a long way away’ and was in a melee of confusion, unable to say goodbye.
My car has been with Audi for a week while they try to fathom what’s wrong. It seems the VW fuel stats ripples that demanded computer reset may have affected engine management systems despite Audi’s protestations that I would notice no change. Audi have given a 2 year warranty following update and thankfully it is likely what ever fault is occurring may be related. This is not the first time I am pleased to have maintained loyalty to Audi as I drive off in their brand new car. Without my own car and tow bar, I have no bike and must begin my new life bike-less, a condition almost unknown to me. At some point my car will be shipped to me in my new home in Orkney. Gradually my tears subside.
Shortly after hitting the A47 early in my journey, I had passed a motorbike and sidecar, pulling a trailer. I think it looks to be a small trailer tent such as I searched for unsuccessfully a couple of years ago. I stopping for fuel and the bike pulls in after me. Instead of going to pay, I cross over to talk to the man. He speaks softly with an Irish lilt and a lined and wrinkled face peeping from his helmet. He talks with love but his face is blank. I learn that it is indeed a small 2 berth trailer tent he is pulling. I want one.
It is a Comanche he tells me, he is clearly in love with her, off to a motor bike rally and easily carries his home with him. We chat for a while and I can feel his desire to open her up and show her off and I feel my own desire for him to do the same but he fiddles with the covering canopy and we both know that this is not to be. I listen as he talks at length about the description and the functions and the new bed and cooker and awning and and and. I need one.
I wish him fair weather and buy my fuel with a smile, knowing that I was meant to be on the road at this moment in time. Another customer walks across the forecourt beside me and we smile and say hello. I am full of bonhomie towards the world. Garage forcourts are very familiar and comforting. I spent many teenage hours serving fuel at Murray’s garage, Stratford St Andrew and enjoyed the happenchance meetings and conversations with strangers, friends for a moment in time. Interactions long since lost in the days of self service where I, like others frequently scowl and am too busy dashing to enjoy the moment in time interaction with strangers. I feel again the oily feel and smell of diesel on my hands and remember the way the crepe soles of my new desert boots began to melt in spilled petrol one hot summers day.
Resisting again the urge to stop and record my range of emotions, it occurs to me, not for the first time, that I am going through the pain of rebirth. I have been born many times in my life and this is just one more chance to discover who I am, how the world works and how I might respond to it in a way that might better meet my needs. DAB Smooth Xtra still plays and Neil Diamond’s Starry Nights eases me and lulls me into a moment of acceptance.
Towards Lincolnshire a murmuration of starlings swoop and play, it is ten thirty am and I do not expect a murmuration at this time. The rapid firing of wings and the incandescent range of movements swooping and swirling, darkening and rising hold my breath and breathe new life into me. I move with Smooth Xtra into The Drifters, Stand By Me and memories of Coverack Youth Hostel years ago when Stand By Me was the morning wake up alarm call, rising with a deep bass up the heavy oak curved bannistered stairway, reaching us in dormitory rooms. The following Christmas, amazingly Nicola had captured my love of the spirit of the music and bought me the album. I have told this story before and no doubt will tell it again. It is one of the most treasured gifts of my life.
Fondest memories of Cornwall. How glad I am that I did not retrace those same steps when I was there last year and mar treasured memories. I do not yet understand my recent time in Cornwall unless it was practice for my journey today. I learned much but took little joy from my time. Confused and lost, I stumbled around, at times in an alcoholic haze trying to find the peace and connection I so desperately sought.
I know that I will not be living in a grim grey town wherever I end up in Orkney, I will not be taking an unfurnished apartment on the third floor. I will not be going with many expectations. Instead, I will have a door that opens out into fresh air and I think I will live a little remote for a while. I think, but as yet I do not know.
And now, where am I now? I might laugh, I do laugh. For many years I have spied a garden center and cafe on the A17 as I have journeyed northward and today decided it would be here that I stop for my breakfast and begin the recording of my journey. It is not an experience I will repeat. £6.45 for full English but swapping fried bread and bread and butter for toast incurs an extra charge of a pound, swapping a fried egg for a scrambled egg incurs another pound. I do not argue.
The tasteless pap was reminiscent of many back woods eateries in Australia and it amuses me that I have long thought the garden center notion might make this an attractive option. I see no evidence of a garden centre other than the fetid smell of algal growth in the loos and the multi panel patched ceilings looking like abandoned flowerbeds.
Today’s four hour journey to Leeds may take me much longer for I suspect I will have another caffeine fuelled stop. I am in between. I am nowhere. I am everywhere. I am here. I want to stay.
I have no home, no yesterday, no tomorrow. I am in my today. I will prolong this moment, selfishly holding on to my travelling space.