Friday, October 03, 2008

How many roads must a man walk down

Walking up Manor Street in Dublin last night my mind was full of blog. It's dark, cold nights like this that make me think of living in the countryside. Jacket zipped and buttoned tightly, the wind snatched the breath from my mouth, the words from my lips and thus the chance to get them out of my head was gone.

I was thinking about Grandad's post about the city vs the countryside and wondered what it would be like to live there instead.

For some reason I thought of the road from Ballymore Eustace - a windy, streetlight free access route to Barretstown where the volunteers on break between camps would walk after a couple of pints sharing the isolated route, breaking the silence with bouts of laughter and fragments of song.

I remembered similarly lonely roads in Spain where the darkening hush was punctuated by the sounds of grasshoppers chirrupping. I thought of similar walks in the night surrounded by dark gloomy houses through Willesden estates after the last tube home. I thought about Kilkenny.

As taxis whizzed by ferrying people on their way to escape the city I thought about the house I'm in now. There was quite a poignant post on The Blog Pound about people's ideas of home. What was it Voodoo lady had said? "Home is where the heart is y’all."

I passed by the wall and the lamppost where someone had scribbled "Out Nigger" and wondered again what it is that makes people do the things they do. Ignorance? Fear? Vindictiveness? All of the above. I know I wouldn't be comfortable surrounded by people who chose to breed such racist malice. The road was deserted as I snapped the photo, still lost in contemplation, not consciously thinking anything more recondite than "God, it's cold".

No matter how social I become, I have never lost the sense of intentional isolation I cultivated while young. My summers were spent high on remote hill and mountain roads, one boy and his dog, running, jumping, imagining. I was happier without people, without the need to engage with anyone, to adjust myself to their expectations of me. Even now, almost 20 years on, I still find it difficult to be "me", to relax in the company of friends, to feel at home.

Living in the mind is a very lonely existence and something I've done for a long time. It's my retreat, my haven, my safe place. I existed mid there and cyberspace last night, feeling the cold wind push against me, walking without thinking, hearing without listening. I formulated posts, replied to comments, chose new topics, abandoned old drafts. Far too involved, far too consumed. Obsession overriding the present.

When she pushed her hand into mine, respecting the silence but breaking the enforced-by-me barrier, I felt such a rush of gratitude. It dissolved the icy grip that my thoughts had forced and reminded me that as solitary as I feel, I'll never be alone. We hugged and I realised that I'd missed her while I've been ill and I'll miss her while she's on holiday. We ventured up to the bus stop hand in hand, not saying much, not needing to say anything. Company beats computers any day.

The quiet murmur of the passengers on the 39 negated the need for earphones. Instead I sat, quietly reflecting, forward planning, intentions forming, ideas changing.

The walk to the house from the bus became, absurdly, somehow a walk back to me.

I was glad to be home.


  1. i was gonna quote bob dylan in a post today.

    that's if i was gonna post today, i had an idea to quote bob dylan.


    bob dylan.

  2. @otmr - well, if you're going to quote someone...

    Bizarrely it was the first tune to play at random on my iTunes today as well.

  3. 'Company beats computers any day.'

    It sure does. Don't let that hand go!

  4. i know of what you speak - this isolation imposed by yourself upon yourself. wonder why people do it?

    hands are good. hugs are good too. i think being hugged daily is something that should be mandatory... and it should come from where we least expect it - random huggers whos job it is to hug people every day just to get us all on the right train of thought and feeling again :)

  5. why relax? there's a mountainload of energy to use in that awkwardness around other people i find.

    I dont understand how someone can be completely comfortable around others... or, since we're talking about quoting, as daniel kitson said "I don't trust anyone who, when walking into a crowded room, doesn't slightly forget how to walk"

  6. @grannymar - the hand is gone on holiday. The good feeling remains. :)

    @donna_m - simply, it's safer. Once bitten, twice shy etc. Hugs are good. Very good. Just ask Juan Mann.

    @b - an interesting take on it, as per usual. I liked the quote. Saw Kitson doing stand up in a small London pub almost two years ago. He was very witty, very observant.

  7. safer but oh so lonely. if i didnt hve to pay outrageously for text's i'd be sending/recieving hugs all day from various friends, old and new :)

  8. lucky f*cker!

    and I normally so "lucky b@stard" so that shows that I'm extra jealous... especially since he mainly does spoken word one man plays now instead.
    want a bootleg?

  9. For some bizarre reason I read it as "out Tigger".