Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The longest day

Grazia magazine wanted to run my blog, for their 1 year anniversary. So I edited it down to 2000 words. It is so much quicker to write new stuff than to edit a year of my life down to a spread and a half. To write the feature, I had to re-read the whole blog. It has been one hell of a journey.

I cut out the politics, since it isn't that sort of magazine. I noticed how much of it was about struggling with tube journeys, guilt, anger, fear. The best bits are the passionate, human bits, and that is what I want to continue with. The campaigning is to serve a purpose, but my life is about more than campaigns. So I am going to carry on writing, but about anything and everything that interests me, and go off-piste from PTSD, terror, bombs. Come on 8th July. That day can't dawn fast enough.

Today is the longest day, and this year has felt like the longest year. Groundhog day, same day over and over and over, the echoes of the rainy morning where everything went black and I couldn't see, couldn't hear, couldn't breathe and everything stopped. Then started again. I was born on Groundhog day, February 2nd. Maybe that is why, in my life, the patterns repeat over and over. Or maybe I need the lessons thumped into me harder than most.

But my birthday, February 2nd, is also Candlemas, the Festival of Light and the Purification of the Virgin, and the pagan festival of Imbolc, the day of the sweet milk, the Bridal Bed. A day of light in darkness,when winter becomes spring, when green shoots thrust up and the snowdrops show their faces. I was named Rachel, for the first best-loved bride, the sweet lamb of spring sacrifice, the first-born daughter.

History may repeat itself; but then, everything repeats itself, winter into spring, summer into autumn, sunrise, sunset, moon rise, moonset, seeds germinate and flourish and die. War, evil, division, terror, then people gather up their loved ones and run from the ruins and start all over again. They tell their stories, as they always have, and I am no different to anyone else.

Some years ago, my friends and I followed a custom I learned about when I lived in in Poland: we made garlands, fixed them with memories of the year gone, threw them into the river on Solstice night. As we did so, men flew down from the sky, trailing parachutes and coloured smoke. American tourists gathered round us, and asked if this was a traditional British custom. The garlands, the parachutists? Maybe it will become one, we said. We're letting go, jumping out into the unknown. We want to travel lighter, we said.

Let the current carry it all away, in the rush of air and water. Trust yourself to the elements, let yourself fall, let the last twelve months sluice past you and see where you float.

I am tired, but I can see a way out of it now. I am not the only person on this journey. Further ahead are wise people, shining a light, showing the way. Beside me are fellow-travellers offering support; just behind me, others, whom I can encourage in return. I remember a rough garland, symbol of a year's dreams and anxieties, sinking slowly in a brown London river at sunset, years ago. I'm making a garland in my mind once more, tying this last year to it, then letting it go.


Blogger Rachel said...

J read this and said, what the hell, since when have you been such a hippie? And why are there no pictures of kittens in baskets?

Yeah, yeah, politics & ranting will feature again shortly, probably, but this is a Midsummer Night's Dream. And I used to be a lot worse. So deal, future husband.

June 22, 2006 12:04 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hippy-dippy it may be, but the Polish garlands idea is wonderful.

June 22, 2006 7:46 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nothing more to say than BEAUTIFUL.

Jo. xx

June 22, 2006 1:35 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beautifully written, As I very often say, you cannot change the past, but you can change the present and you most certainly can change the future.

June 23, 2006 10:51 am  
Blogger TN said...

By all means let it go, but don't let it stray too far just incase you need to draw upon it.

June 24, 2006 1:21 am  
Blogger yasser said...

history doesnt have to repeat itself it is us that want to repeat it most often

June 24, 2006 1:28 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"They tell their stories, as they always have, and I am no different to anyone else" Rachel 21 June 06

Nope. You have a rare talent to put your stories into words which we are still reading, almost a year on. I hope they continue, perhaps minus-7-7.

IainC (not the other Iain, IainD)

June 30, 2006 3:54 pm  

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