Saturday, July 18, 2009

England - A Familiar

Journal Entry, Evening, July 17, 2009

England didn't surprise me -- that's what it is. So different to Italy, to France, those landscapes where I surged wholly OUT of myself. England tilled the earth of me and presented upturned memory, re-imprinted the sense of place I inhaled and took possession of in Maryland. Towering old trees, deep with leaves, and vast blooming meadows tinseled with Queen Anne's Lace and yellow-red-orange-blue blooms I couldn't (then) and still can't name, stone facades - sooty, aged, rough, but mainly unpainted or hidden beneath their ivy finery. Every window a new story I wanted to hear, every doorway as individual as the occupant, 2-lane roads devilish with twists and riddled with echoes. My tales of England are my own history - how odd, how unexpected!

Yes, the green initially startled me, overwhelmed my breathing -- after 30 years in this sun-bleached desert, of course it did! But very soon I recalled the green of my growing up, the parks & fields & lawns & prairies. There is where I started; that is what I left behind (& agonized for) when I got to the moonscape of Phoenix. In all these years, I thought I had learned to 'let go', when in fact I took it inward and kept it close, like an inner layer of skin I mentally wore without realizing it. The rural dynamic of England, though different to the faces of Nebraska and Maryland, still kept true to that feel -- the way my eyes opened as my breathing slowed and deepened -- familiar amid the foreign. Home, with a twist, at once near and far.

Low-slung stone-riddled mountains, rivers with water actually IN them, hedges, smaller scaled everything, movements more regularly paced. Rain. Skies that changed every few moments, altering the light absolutely and begging me to photograph, again, the very subjects I'd just used a roll of film on. That sense of AGE, the ever-present companion of history permeating the 'now' -- this, too, I always felt in Maryland, and in the constancy of my own genealogy in Nebraska.

I've been so worried that the tales I'd have to tell would seem small -- no glitz, no glamour, blue jeans, the same jewelry every day, minimal makeup, a blister on my heel -- but instead I see their reflections internally, and I hear myself resonate. I photographed what I always photograph, what I always respond to: lamps, stone, windows & doors, where I was, a room, a bed, a beautiful tile or carpet -- and I realize I was adding to my personal library of images -- from old Eastern plantation houses to crumbling headstones, to the beckon of a home, a face, a plate of fruit or scones.

What I see is that England showed me more of what and who I am, where I began, my roots. Nothing is ever lost, or abandoned, just submerged, overlaid by the realities, patterns, infusions of the day-to-day present. How fecund I am -- all I've seen and known, touched and met, the travel, the dialogues, the food & flavors, the airports & alleys, the dreams, the walks, the dusks and dawns, the cups of tea & coffee, the glasses of wine or mugs of beer, the dogs I've petted and the cats I've said "meow" to in multiple languages!

How immense! To recognize that I am a constant -- that I am THE constant. It really is subjective, travel -- what goes in, how it's filtered, or consumed (RAW). No discos or wild cavorting or scaling of peaks, no 'big deal adventures', but this is who I am -- quietly taking it all in and still making SOMETHING of it. I'm not interested in others' ideas of a great travel experience. I forge my own way, find experience even in a rose that buds pink but blooms white with pink speckles, or a miniature-sized jug of milk, a piece of wallpaper, a parking ticket stub, a friendly white Westie named Dugan, a hand in mine on the sofa as we watch Cash in the Attic, laughter in a room full of newly-met but somehow always-known people, driving on the wrong side (to me) of the road, roundabouts, days of the week socks, salmon with hollandaise for lunch.

It all opens me to more -- it all reiterates "ME", it all stays MY tale, this green English one.


Holly said...

No, I'm very sorry to tell you, it's not your tale; it ours now.

Thanks to you and your generosity. Thanks to you.

Veronica said...

oh I love the new background. and the new picture. We need some more pictures or better yet let me just get a plane ticket will you pick me up at the airport?

Samantha said...

Great stuff.
It's funny, what you said about worrying that your tales of your trip would be small, unimpressive: I confess to worrying the same thing for you. As an Englander, I've so often heard Americans or Australians return home saying they were disappointed or unimpressed .... or complaining about the dirt and decay (we like to call it Culture and History), the warm beer or fanaticism for queueing and being polite (or if you were unlucky, the rudeness ~ though I doubt you got much of that up there in Yorkshire, they're so well-behaved).

But, Dear One, how could I have doubted you, or your ability to perceive the beauty and magic in the small and the old. Thank you so much for what you wrote.

{so you're an INFP too? not surprised. Soul Sister!!}

cinner said...

Toni, I love the new look, and your new header picture is to die for. Glad you had such a great time.

beth said...

your writing and words here are amazing and often I had stop and re-read some sentences, as you described things and life so perfectly that I hadn't quite soaked them in the first time...

seriously....quit that day job and start writing for your local newspaper or magazine !