Memory Foam

It’s summer in the countryside now and beautiful. The house is enveloped in a smoke screen of ivy and the layers all twist and intertwine around each other competing for who can be the first to grow up tall and kiss the sun. It’s quite the operation. The lake at the bottom of the garden was almost frozen over when I arrived five months ago, but now it has changed shape and form completely, a glimmering body of water that houses a family of ducks. Flowers both wild and domestic sprout up along secret paths and whisper amongst themselves. It was a long winter, but Mother Nature is lifting her head and shaking out her roots. I’m trying to do the same.

Last weekend, though, I left behind my rosebud wallpapered room yet again to jump on a plane and drift off into the sky. I’m starting to recognize the restlessness of staying still for too long. This time it was Ireland, the north. In a city called Belfast there is a cream building with a little red door (all brassy doorknobs, all gorgeously quaint) and behind it lives my new friend Tommy. I had planned to catch a train to Scotland but when that fell through, we decided I should book impromptu flights a few nights beforehand and pay him a visit instead.

Someone said to me recently that it seems I’m always ‘going to see people’, that my weekends must be strung together by train rides plane rides buses and taxis, all with a friendly face and good conversation tucked away at the end of the line, somewhere in the world, waiting for me. All out of nowhere I’ve developed these runaway tendencies. Become some impossible girl with passport stamps instead of tattoos. I listened to this strange analogy trying to piece it all together in the shape of my reflection but I couldn’t quite manage it, to tell you the truth I feel no different as a gypsy than I did as a schoolgirl in braids. No matter how many new people I become. I have trailed through endless states of being since I left my home but for what it’s worth – and I speak here now in riddles – although our skin is glassy smooth, the human heart is made of memory foam. In the morgue they’re going to identify me by whose fingerprints have been left there. How hardly they pressed down with their lovegrips. The spaces and valleys they chose to leave untouched. 

I befriended Tommy in Barcelona on our last morning at the music festival that ran us all ragged with deliriousness and joy. It was a little past sunrise and the last DJ was playing. We were all running about in circles, dancing into each other, the sky, ourselves. Giving ourselves over completely to the spaces between drum beats. I was having an incredible time yet found myself drifting away from my friends, following either instinct or madness or nothing much at all. I found myself next to a blue-eyed Irish boy, and before I knew it we were talking and talking and talking. The sun leaked into the sky, signaling the end of the night completely. Still we talked. Danced. Wandered around. Our other friends both decided to go to the beach so we swept along with them in silence. Then we all lay about whispering fancies, sharing potions in the squinting morning. I caved into droopy eyelids and fell asleep on the sand.

Speedy cut to one month later and there I was, doorstep hopping again. Being a nomad of homes and hearts. I showed up on a Saturday afternoon and T showed me around his area, the broken down graffiti side streets hiding behind magnificent towering buildings, polar opposites coming at me from all angles. We drank toffee apple cider on red upholstered armchairs and walked through the Botanic Gardens on the brink of evening, huddling into our coats away from rain. To me it felt as cold as the Adelaide winter. In a strangely cosy way though, in a way that I didn’t mind. That night we ate, drank, laughed. I got tired early and T spilt beer all over himself in a bar that seemed to only play Biggie Smalls. I laughed harder than I had in a long time, though not necessarily at that. It was the way things seemed to move. The way they were put together. The fact that I was even there to begin with and not nestled behind that white picket fence where I grew up and then stepped out of myself to leave. It almost didn’t make sense to me that an entire city had evolved with all its little lives so far away from where I was born, so hidden to the public eye. To many people it was just their little hometown, but to me it was a city of secrets. The stories were a little harder to collect, that’s all. More tightly wound if we were to gather all the scrolls of the world and unroll them systematically. Sometimes I’m not sure if I ever come to understand new places or if they just become characters in my little vagabond story, a fate that I’ve only ever coaxed people into before. But don’t we love places better still because they are living collectives with river veins? I packed together all my things and left one day to test this theory. I haven’t thought to look back since.  

Things I will remember fondly of this particular weekend are as follows: eyes that dig and hands that feel the cold, the rattle of suitcase wheels on cobblestones, late night trash TV, cider, a beer I couldn’t drink, a ripped up coaster left sitting in an ashtray, the sound blue makes when it hits the sky, a pair of old spectacles in a market stall, the Titanic museum, walking around looking at the exhibits and deciding to be a sailor, or perhaps a pirate, falling asleep on my borrowed couch, the music, the madness, the strange Irish money a man handed me at the airport, red lipstick by day & pink lipstick by night, Glastonbury streamed live, set lists, barely lit side streets, white tiled floors, the ever-precious moment when you first wake up and remember where you are again.

And my hair is growing out now and my skin is paling up and on Monday afternoon I was goodbyed at the bus stop, peering into wide eyes that pulled away sweetly. I shrugged into a window seat and poured through my book. Whispered my Kerouacs like kickboxing prayers. I decided that nothing made sense at all but that was the way it had always been, and I am only reckless with language because it makes good practice for being reckless with the soul. A soul that has untangled itself from over plucked heartstrings in exchange for a ball of yarn and some old postal stamps. Hardy like a rambling old traveller. A wild thing like smoke that can be felt around you in the air but never, never caught. 

 indoor markets

 threading through side streets

the beautiful city hall 

tourist paradise at the site where Titanic was built 

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