Last Christmas I fucked up, didn’t I? I left for 20 hours at a time, I left to get money and to drink and to be with people who just don’t give a shit. And I left one time, didn’t I – only to get beaten and bruised and left all used and I still cry, I do. Daily if I hear an accent or feel a shiver that makes me remember, I die. I fucked it up, I let writing and reading slide and I let myself leave. This Christmas I swear I am there – from November til January I am here. I am writing and reading again, I am safe again. Lover and family, I won’t abandon.
The sun might yet come and I see it, sometimes
over tables and chairs, through glasses and mugs
but not here – not when I am free or alone
not in bed, not on the beach – it’s dark, still,
even with the sailboats and the deckchairs
winter is harder than autumn, in ways
but in christmas dinners served and lit-up lanes
we can find a little comfort, still
I should tell you I
haven’t made time to write
I’ve been hiding -
making up my mind
and the leaves have still
So I went cross-country, cross-my-country
cross our teeny-tiny dark little country
from South to centre and to the West
to find something, maybe, that wasn’t
found at any destination – but on the road
and I read On the Road, too, and rather
than enlightening, I found it annoying
I mean well done, for romanticising
a lack of any editing or money, for that matter
but okay – I took something from it. Okay.
I took away that the road is a place to be
and that in the passenger seat, a friend beside me
drinking in every tree and turn of our country
I found a few words inside me on the train
and I blurted them out quickly before St Pancras
North Somerset took us West, and its roads
took me home. I spat up a few words here and there
and I felt a little safer in my own body
when I came back South
Some days and nights, more than others, I miss California. It was something I had wanted for six or more years, and worked towards. I had it fleetingly for two weeks and now – it is gone. I feel like I saw so much, and yet nothing at all. We spent a lot of time in LA – Venice, Universal, Mulholland Drive, Griffith, Santa Monica, Hollywood. I loved LA in the same way I love Brighton – it was so bright and beautiful but simultaneously so trashy and filthy. I have a soft spot for LA. We saw filming locations, studios, famous views. Our trip had a weird and rocky start and although we did cool things in those first few days, we were grateful to be rescued by the sweetest girls in the world. Brianna and Felicia took us in despite meeting us two days previously and showed us the best possible time. We stayed with them in Orange and had a BBQ with Kelly, getting a little tipsy and hiking. I saw all of Orange County and it was beautiful.
The girls took us to Palm Springs for two days of drinking, swimming, and the desert. It was far too hot and the pool boys were weird but it was magical. Running around at night in the dead heat, wearing white robes and carrying a cane. Desperately searching for ice chips. Running into another guy who also needed ice. Seeing the pool, a fireplace, an outdoor sofa. The hippest hotel in the world. People must have died from overdosing in our room. I hope so. That instant clicking, a feeling of friendship outside with Felicia and Kelly. Laughter. Since I moved to Brighton I have been a little lonely, but I felt this instantaneous connection to these amazing girls. Sitting in a hot tub at night and laughing and swimming dangerously tipsily. Surrounded by mountains. The day was too hot so we bought slushies and went home. Not before stopping off at the side of the road to see the dinosaurs in the desert.
San Diego. Seals, the bay, the rain. Almost driving to Mexico. Running to catch an ice cream truck and sitting on a low wall, reminded of how it wasn’t actually that different to holidays in Wales or Devon. Just a little drizzle. A night much like the one in Palm Springs, swimming in the middle of the mountains. Playing with the floats and taking photographs and running in the road. Saying goodbye outside Kelly’s mom’s, goodbye hugs and ‘I am so glad I met you’. I miss you.
My favourite moments were those that were entirely spontaneous and unexpected. Mostly drives – the canyons, Brianna sharing with us her childhood. Modjeska. The small, mismatched homes hanging off the edge of cliff faces. The sunset from the hills. The lights of the city from above. Anaheim, Santa Ana, Orange. Top of the world – despite protests, we drove to the top and explored a little. We tried to get into a cave but it was illegal.
I have so many memories and I don’t know what to do with them. I get so sad when I realise that my friends are thousands of miles away and California is two months away. I miss it so dearly and I want to see so much more – perhaps the North, next time. I want to drive myself around the desert and the hills and see the lights. For myself.
Good God – the trees are bare
and my own bed is damp
every damn morning
The coastal wind is so fierce
it blows my breath
clean from my face
and beats at my cheeks
My dear, with every curled
brown dead leaf
I am dying,