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Times and Places

I won’t give everything away

Winter began.  The house becomes warmer and brighter; it’s looking for the sun.  I dreamed of a tree house, the beech heights, being neighbours with the crows, waking to the sound of leaves and branches.  I dreamed of a tree house, but the only person I ever knew who had one burned it down as a joke.  I wish I could push my bed to the window, enjoy the morning sounds, as though I’m waking outdoors almost.

There’s a tiny graveyard down by the river.  Every time my life changes, I find myself there.  Old and new stones, the sound of the park in the distance, ice-cream van and a eulogy, perfect.

Sometimes, I hold the hand of the city much too tightly, but then it is a very pretty town.  Already, there are shapes and patterns emerging.  They remind me of things, more dreams.  Dream of the town; I remember how huge it seems in dreams like those, flooded streets navigated by slender barges, like the world ended but we forgot to be afraid.  There are deep mazes of streets in the dream town, and if you open a door in the basement, it will take you to a deeper place, down into the vaults.

There are pathways through our memories.  Here’s the place that we used to cross the road, grey underpass, fluorescent lights.  Everyone always talks about the fish tank, but I liked the dome overhead, with a slice of sky dead centre.

There’s a bright bar – in the waking world – a place that I knew the second I walked in for the first time.  A little home, a treehouse in the city.  In a dream, I might open a door in my silent house and find myself there.  In dreams, the doors (the ones that aren’t there when we’re awake) connect to unexpected places, because that’s what we are looking for, the doorway into electric light summer on a December night when too much has happened to begin to think of.  

Over there, that’s where they used to hold raves after midnight.  Over there, that’s where the bomb killed so many in the Blitz, sheltering in the cellars; they say that you could smell the flowers laid in tribute for years, long after the days of hotel dances, long after the motorways and the towers, so that the heartbreak and silence of that 1940s morning seem like a story told in class.  Over here, that’s where I sat happily watching the night for the first time in years.  And over there, that’s where we will be, all of us.

I’m really tired.  The year has taken a lot; it is in the process of giving me a lot back in return.  That bright treehouse is something it gave me.  I spent the last week alone, except of course I didn’t.  There were so many people reaching out, acts of generosity, of creativity, of absolute life.  I know that I can ask for anything – I may not receive it, but I can ask, and do you know how important and rare that is, for me, for anyone?

That’s where the summer was.  It will be there again, sooner than you think.  I remember how sometimes, the cars just seem to stop and we walk in the road, as things make way for us.  

Voices, raising in the night, words fly, a language that I know.  Sometimes I can’t sleep for the anticipation of it.  The city of deep vaults, of flooded streets and scarlet sunrises, the place where there’s a haunted house down the road, and a path to the secret sea – that dream city is coming towards us now.  I can see the lights of it at night.  Hold my hand, waking or sleeping, doesn’t matter.  If I hold the hand of the city too tightly, it’s not to hold it back or in fear – it’s out of excitement at where it’s taking me tonight, taking all of us.

It is very nearly Christmas, and I love you all.

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