Yesterday I went for a walk along the canal towpath from Hebden Bridge to Todmorden and happened upon a hippy camp. There was an assortment of tents, metal containers and beat up retro camper vans which housed the inhabitants of the camp, and there were also communal cooking areas and makeshift sofas and seating for relaxation. I was immediately captivated and envious of the freedom these people have to live their alternative lifestyle. Sure, it is most probably freezing cold and enormously hard work to live this way, but often I crave the simplicity of living without all the trappings of the 21st century.
Then I got to thinking, could I really survive in this way myself? The romanticism of living a free and unfettered lifestyle is doubtless very attractive, but the realities must be very different. No hot water to bath or shower in, or appliances such as washing machines. Perhaps no means of heating the tent or metal container during the winter. Maybe cooking outside would be fun in the summer, but in the winter it would be hard to see the advantages.
It made me aware of just how idealistic I am with my romantic notions of living in a horse drawn gypsy caravan, or on board a canal barge. But does this mean that I should relinquish my dreams and just settle down to live a mainstream, traditional life? Is there any middle ground? I have often thought that I could definitely live a more pared down existence as long as I had some of the home comforts. Life for me would not be fun without lashings of hot water for showers; efficient heating so that I would be warm and cosy in the winter and a proper oven and hob so that I could prepare hearty, nutritious food. I think however that if I had these basic elements I could be more than happy living a much simpler life. And let’s face it, I would never want to lose the power to be imaginative and idealistic. I can’t think of anything worse than being constantly realistic. Oh, and please can I keep my iPhone?
I am not the first person you loved.
You are not the first person I looked at
with a mouthful of forevers. We
have both known loss like the sharp edges
of a knife. We have both lived with lips
more scar tissue than skin. Our love came
unannounced in the middle of the night.
Our love came when we’d given up
on asking love to come. I think
that has to be part
of its miracle.
This is how we heal.
I will kiss you like forgiveness. You
will hold me like I’m hope. Our arms
will bandage and we will press promises
between us like flowers in a book.
I will write sonnets to the salt of sweat
on your skin. I will write novels to the scar
of your nose. I will write a dictionary
of all the words I have used trying
to describe the way it feels to have finally,
finally found you.
And I will not be afraid
of your scars.
I know sometimes
it’s still hard to let me see you
in all your cracked perfection,
but please know:
whether it’s the days you burn
more brilliant than the sun
or the nights you collapse into my lap
your body broken into a thousand questions,
you are the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.
I will love you when you are a still day.
I will love you when you are a hurricane.
This is your life. Do what you love, and do it often. If you don’t like something, change it. If you don’t like your job, quit. If you don’t have enough time, stop watching TV. If you are looking for the love of your life, stop; they will be waiting for you when you start doing things you love.