Friends have faces and that’s all well and good but I want to be good enough to capture something a little bit ethereal, a strand of their aura, a visual vibration of their energy. These shots of my lovely mate Eloise are beautiful because she’s beautiful but they sort of just fall flat. I don’t know if it’s working with my kit lens that I find limitating or if it’s just lack of skill. Give me a couple months, I’m determined to ace my quest for the impossible.
My blog these past few weeks has been a little quiet. There have been shifts in my life, both place and state of mind, that have dominated my time. But I’m back at it and feeling a little reflective. My favourite posts have been the Mount Moments series for a while now, a very raw and honest look at life and travel. Now I’m back “Home” in Newcastle, England, and I want to keep that same uncut, artistic, feel to this space. Of course there will be more journeys and certainly more coffee’s but I want to embrace every element as a means to create.
In saying that, here are some very standard, amateur, shots of some pretty wildflowers found on a hike in the Cumbrian countryside.
When I’m ‘Settled’ into routine and have to put travelling on hold, it’s little adventures and road trips that keep my spirits up. A friend took me to Wairere Falls the other week and it was a right test for my lungs and my poor little legs. Despite the pain once we reached the summit the trek up seemed like nothing. We weren’t expecting the waterfall to be so impressive anyways so even the road leading to it took my breath away a little. The first view point is about half way up and gives you a stunning view of the waterfall itself set into the rocks and lush greenery, you might very well feel like that’s enough and want to retreat but you have to troop on because waiting at the top is the real treasure. The day we chose was a windy one so the waterfall was actually floating up to shower us, water droplets catching in the sun rays and pure views of green rolling hills. It took about an hour and half, round trip, if I remember rightly, with options for longer more advanced routes. Here in New Zealand there’s always something waiting to stun you around every corner, this place is in a league of its own. I’m keen to check out more of the trails around and about Tauranga and if you ever find yourself in the area be sure to give this one a go.
If you had of told her at eight, all chubby cheeked and wide eyed, that she would trace the lines of that bubblegum pink globe, she was fascinated so much by, in a self renovated van, I wonder what she’d of said? Actually, I wager she’d have been a little more forthcoming than her weary sixteen year old self, listening to playlists that tore at the angst in her heart and left her fragile, curled up on a single bed in a purposefully darkened room. That teenager would have laughed with all of the menace of an aged sinner and turned back to the lyrics where such impossibilities were painted with pretty plausibility. And then again at nineteen when just stepping out of her dorm room terrified her, I bet she would have cried at the impossibility of such bravery.
Yet, there she goes, turning up another dirt track, in a country wherein she can’t speak the native tongue but communicates with smiles and waves, with a grateful nod of recognition toward the locals in the streets. At the end is another broad leap into another vast unknown. The rigid levels of a raging waterfall, the steady opening of a vivid lagoon, the stirring depths of the vast sea. She’ll do it though, take the leap I mean, the threat of it will curdle her stomach for a second but she’ll do what she does so well now and silence the doubt. See, she conquered the demon, that was herself all along, back when that demon was her only companion. They grew to know each other and she learned to love that careful loathing, she accepted the demon’s chiding, it’s haughtiness toward the safety of innocence and instead let it push her to embrace a life void of that expected purpose.
Now, she charters her own explorations, talks to people with shaky confidence but makes friends for life, she tries new things with a perspective that is uniquely her own and laughs at all those who never thought she’d board that first flight. Her soul ebbs and flows, her ambition the most wayward tide and it’s catching. Her smiling tales wrapped in golden imagery, snaps of coves and foreign faces, words etched in a tattered notebook, all memories to conquer her own doubts when they rear their head once more. She lives for herself and the loud mystery of our world and that is the fiercest action of all.
If there was one daydream I could make a reality right this minute it would be this one. Do you have any idea how much van renovations cost though? It’s mental! One day, when I can actually drive (because that might help things just a wee bit, ay?) and have the funds.
“What are you reading?” He asks, but it’s something too sacred to tell. These pages are mine and to share them is sacrilege.
“Oh, you know, just a classic.” I shrug absentmindedly hoping he’ll leave me alone with the words and the world in my head that has captured me so. The characters, my friends, my enemies, mine. And this isn’t my first visit to this vast paper plane, it could be my fourth, my fifth, my sixth.
“Oh, Which one? Maybe I’ve read it.” Maybe you have but you wouldn’t have read it like me, nobody reads them the same. I don’t want you to tell me your opinions, your interpretations, your critiques. I want this to be my own world for this time and the time after. A retreat untainted by reality, by your words.
But I don’t want to be rude, or seem weird, or make myself uncomfortable. So I close the pages gently, reluctantly and place the paperback in the sanctuary of my lap. “The Great Gatsby.” It’s a blunt response, I hold back my enthusiasm, the despair, the elatedness, the devotion. They are mine too.
“Ah, Read it back in school. Gatsby’s a bit of a melt isn’t he? Never really understood him. It’s all lovey dovey crap. And the end…” He stops himself with a quirk to the lips “…well I won’t ruin that disappointment for you.”
“I’ve read it before, I know the end, I admire the end. I admire the whole story actually, despite the ugly characters. If you read deeper you’ll uncover a whole lot more than a love story.” The worlds trip over themselves in my haste and the burning in my cheeks betrays me so loudly. He’s laughing softly now and I can feel the eye roll he’s holding back. My heart is in my throat and there’s a nagging behind my eyes. The confrontation was uncharacteristic of me but I’d been riled by the ignorance. Critique of anything is just blatant self indulgence. There was no counter argument here, just his word against mine, superior to mine.
I walk away from the challenge, from the battle he is so obviously keen to muster. Instead I calm myself and retreat to my world, hurt by the anger tainting the words now, loathing the way I let them in when I knew what was coming and should have prepared against it. It’s a lonely thing to read so heavily, to rely so much on a world beyond this. But I’m elevated by the reward of it. The places I see, the people I meet, the suffering I share and the victories too. My emotions are in the hands of the author, susceptible to his manipulations and sorcery. And I hand myself over to the escape of it all, willingly and desperately ready for the turmoil.
I’m really digging these little projects, they’ve become my favourite to write and I hope you enjoyed reading it too. Especially my enchanting little bookworms out there. I compiled a list of my favourite classics too. I find so many of them boring (sacrilege I know!) but this list boasts all of the literary works that have really gotten to me. All of the tears and tantrums and that awful lost feeling as I turn the final page. Any recommendations?
We’d escape into the evening in just our pyjamas, climbing over the broken gate to the neighbours yard where she’d stand in her doorway clutching her tea. Our parents would wander out soon to investigate as we jumped through twilight skies to catch fireflies. They’d of course slip through our fingers and twirl away in the moonlight. In my mind they were tinkering a laugh and playing along with us. They were trickster fairies delighting in our young hearts. Maybe none of it was in my head. “Don’t hurt them, dance with them. Be friends.” She’d say, a kind smile on her aged face.
In the morning we’d stretch out bronzed limbs in the same garden, weeding flower beds and following her lead as she tells us to encourage the flowers to bloom with kind words and gentle hands. As a teenager she would stroll passed me in the square, my vulgar hands ripping at the leaves of a bush. “Remember kind words, encourage them to grow. No one likes a bully.” I smile and it isn’t taunting, it’s reminiscent of golden days and soft hours chasing magic in every corner of her yard. Now the summers are long and lonely, cinema dates with friends and afternoons with my head buried in books.
Today I pass a garden over run in natural bliss, somewhere in New Zealand, magic manifested in colours and blossoms that I can’t identify and I smile and whisper “You’re beautiful, keep blooming.” As I hurry on past. It’s spoken spontaneously, barely a thought before it’s a phrase but it loops around me for the rest of the day. If a kind word can encourage the plants to grow, imagine what it could do for a human.