Saturday, July 01, 2006

This post is brought to you by the number 1 and the letter 'm' ...

Camping field panoramic
... for most of the last nine years or so, I have been half of a Two. Now, I am becoming accustomed to being a One.

Right now, I am sitting on a small wooden pontoon over a lake in the field where I am camping in Wales. It is the first time I have been on holiday as a One. Just a few days here, so far west that you can't go any further. When I say One, I mean one person. Ruby is here with me, loving every moment. So, I did not sleep alone, but snuggled up with a tired, sandy, happy dog.

The weather is astounding. The lane we drive from the field to the beach has set the hedgerows a loose dress code for June/July - anything, so long as it's pink and flowery.

Pink foxglove
Red campion
The thing about my dog is that she is so much better at making friends than I am. She struck up a conversation with Meg, a border collie we met by the sand flats, and whilst they romped and chatted, there was not much else I could do but strike up a conversation with Meg's human, a lovely woman in her late sixties, not that long in the area. We talked for maybe twenty minutes, maybe longer. First just the polite soundings out, but after a while she told me that her husband had died in November. She went on to talk about how supportive her welsh farming neighbours had been, much more so than the middle class english folks with whom she has so much more in common - on the surface at least. We talked about whether living in proximity with death as well as life, with death as part of life, equipped those people better for dealing with loss in all forms. How so many people seemed to think death was something that could be avoided.

Eventually we said our goodbyes, and Ruby and I carried on our path, stopping to greet a small but cheerful cocker spaniel - Meg. Whilst meg and ruby chased around her owner and I initially kept some distance, but our defences were broken down by the ridiculous antics of our doggies, and we struck up a conversation and quickly found we had our profession in common. Meg's mum began telling me how she had got into her industry, but ended up telling me pretty much her life story. After a few minutes she invited us to walk with them on the route they were taking, and so we spent a couple of hours together, strolling and talking. She spoke to me about struggling with depression, and anxiety. About failed relationships and finding herself. About loss and fear of loss and how powerful that could be in her life. At one point as we wandered across the golf course, she turned to me and said "I don't know why I'm telling you all this, you're a total stranger ... but I trust you - I don't normally talk about this stuff". And I believed her.

We both shared confidences and spoke about the kinds of feelings not normally thought of as small talk. In fact, it was quite the opposite. Big talk. About stars and the nature of shared experience and reincarnation and self-destruction. About being a One when you have been half of a Two and how difficult it can be, but how freeing and empowering too. And when we had to part she gave me her number, and I did the same. For next time I am here. And she gave me a hug. And it felt right and supportive and not at all odd. Which is odd in itself.

So, back on our own again, Ruby and I retired to the beach and lay in the sand, scorching under the sun but not much caring. And I felt hopeful, but also heavy, scared of losing Ruby, who is my world. And I wondered whether I would ever get over the loss I am feeling now, and the future loss of Ruby, which may be sooner that I would hope because she has a heart problem which may get worse quickly at any time.

And then we met Mabel. 12 weeks worth of loose skin and big paws and pure vulnerable joy. Just like Ruby was when I first brought her home a year and a half ago.

Mabel, boxer puppy, 12 weeks
They romped around together for a while, but it was an uneven match and little Mabel scared regularly and retreated to sit on my feet and lean against me and look up for reassurance. And I knew then that if Mabel didn't already have a very lovely family, I would take her home and love her just as much as I love Ruby. Different, but no less. Hope.

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Blogger Mary said...

Yes the weather is astounding!

This is a beautiful post. Hopeful yet poignant. Love and loss.

Enjoy the remainder of your stay ...

02 July, 2006 18:59  
Blogger Stray said...

Thanks Mary, it was good to get away and for Ruby and I to practice the new shape of our lives.

Home again, and that in itself is interesting ... that this place has truly become home - 22 days after I moved here. I imagined it would take longer :)

03 July, 2006 08:44  

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