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January 2013, vol 8, no 4

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Jane Fraser

The journey Ends

watching my hands,
winding the hands of my Swatch watch
backwards in time

In transit: we’re holding at LA and then we’re airborne for the last time. The eight hours are long and silent, wondering what the future will bring, wishing to see family again, but anticipating the problems ahead. Guiltily, I’d like to rewind the last six months, do it all again, fearful of magical memories being undone in the blink of an eye. I wonder if I’ll have withdrawal symptoms from being no longer attached to my blue back-pack or my plastic bag containing my toiletries. I ponder the question of possessions and come to the conclusion that we need so few, just the basics. I reckon that it’s our society that drives us to have so much “product” and realise that it’s a lie that possessions equate with happiness. Consumerism makes us feel inadequate for not having “things.” I’ve had so little the last six months; but I feel that I have had so much.

My daughter has warned me not to come home with hennaed hair, braids, pierced tongue, nose or naval, or toe rings, “not at your age,” not to embarrass her. I am “her mother” after all. Yes, I have done as I was told, although she probably won’t be pleased with what she sees when I come home to the nest which hopefully will still be intact. I will have “let myself go”, and in a way I have, in the most delightful way.

brown-skinned hobo –
hair, kissed by the sun,
fly-away and untamed

Then we’re circling over London, stacking in the early morning queue. I pick out the Dome and the familiar kink in the Thames at Greenwich, my home for a short while in the life I had at Goldsmiths’ University before I married, for the first (or perhaps only) time, I think. I look north of the river, wondering if Philip will go back to Stamford Hill? We’ve been joined at the hip for over half a year, a relationship which allows me to be myself for the first time in my life.

camera lens adjusted,
under cloudless skies
the world comes into sharp focus

We choose the “something to declare” exit – for we have something, and there he stands, my brother, waiting with the placard he’s made for a joke, “Croeso Philip and Jane”, and his eyes gushing with tears. I didn’t think he would miss me. There are so many things I’m always wrong about.

We head westward, keep going west as far as the road goes. It’s early morning and the frost is dusting the fields and hedgerows and the landscape looks like patterned lace and patchwork. I see with fresh eyes, realise how green Britain is and how ordered, the traffic moving with such discipline and at such speed.

My heart goes into arrhythmia mode. Panic at M4 Junction 13, A34 to Oxford, the road I’ve travelled back and forth by rote doing the job I’ve hated for ten years. The job I’ll return to. But for how long, I wonder, now that things are different.

suspended –
in mid-air,
steel bridge, anchored in two lands

We’re almost there now; we are warmly welcomed by the red dragon, “Croeso i Gymru / Welcome to Wales”. It is slow, painfully slow as we near journey’s end. We drag up the final narrow hill, around the last familiar bend and I see that view of land colliding with sea at the very edge of Europe. It never fails to amaze. I breathe out, a long contented sigh. Home.

party balloons,
blown-up to bursting point,
festooning the garden gate

note: Croeso is the Welsh word for welcome.