She stepped away from the white crystal display in the shop window into which she had been staring for the past three minutes. Just long enough to feel the cold wind poke its gaunt fingers against her cheeks. Feeling the slight pressure of the travel card in her jeans back pocket she fingered three coins in her front hip pocket. Not enough for a coffee, let alone the contents of the shop window inviting her to whitewash the interior of her bedsit.
Sinead keeps both hands thrust deep into her jeans in an effort to avoid the scratch and whip against her skin. The tendons and veins now resemble the memory of her grandmother’s hands. Nostalgia tightens its belt around her as the desire for home cooking and spiced delicacies which normally rest beneath a glass cloche on the side, crept into the corners of her mouth, causing her to salivate, just a little.
Wanting seems to cost more than needing as the realities of winter’s sharp reminder claws its way though thin fibres more suited to summer. How much easier it is to survive on less than 3 coins in a pocket during those warmer months. Sinead loves the summer where tee-shirts don’t give away the balance of the bank account and entertaining is easily afforded in lush green parks, sharing ice-creams and the laughter of other people’s children. She loves all the changes in seasons. The transitions through nature’s palette sing to her in the songs of birds large and small with such definite heraldry that she always knew her place in the universe and could tell with absolute clarity, exactly how many days were left in each season before the winds change or the grass turns to brown.
Her dreams are often of leaves falling. As each leaf detaches from the branch, the veins within, light up; a florescent line burns tungsten bright for the duration of the drop and each time it does, Sinead hears the song of trunk rings vibrate through the air and on the days she chooses to join in and make that mystical sound, her bones thicken and she is bound by all the wisdom of time.
But wisdom doesn’t buy coffee and ordinarily, the cold would pinch even deeper, but as Sinead walks away from the shop window, she notices a new sound, a new vibration and her attention is drawn to a tiny green shoot appearing on a holly branch, used in a wreath at this time of year. This vibration shimmers and the song it brings is lighter and brighter than the symphony of leaves she has learned to love. And before the song has finished, a golden tiara of tomorrow begins to filter through her and inside her body, a bright light pumps through her veins to prepare her for a year which shouldn’t exist but does and whose odd number is always lucky for some.
Sinead is not surprisingly overcome by such an intense response to the universe. Her heart beats loudly in her ears and the pathology of imagination is momentarily confused with the necessity of illusion in a city so cold in light of the emotional isolation in which she has existed for so many years. As she walks down the street, she allows the buses to pass her in the hope that with each passing vehicle, it will all become clear. Of course, it doesn’t take long before she begins to think or even hope that something, anything needs to become clear. There are so many things that confuse her on a daily basis. There’s an itch behind her left knee she scratches through her jeans. She needs to get to the library; in the reading corner there’s a woman who watches reality TV daily on her laptop and if she sits two chairs behind, she can see the facial expressions. She likes to copy the facial expressions. It’s her workout, she thinks, that and the walking, but she knows the streets so clearly, she believes that if she could only have a black cab she’d be able to do ‘the knowledge’ so well. The streets are part of her tendons and flesh.
It’s about belonging and not belonging. Perhaps it’s about not wanting to belong but actually having another dimension pull at the very sides of you until you begin to fray at the edges and feathers fall and invisible roots lose their hold. Perhaps it’s about the wander of displacement and how it rests within all of us, but Sinead doesn’t care. Sinead hears the songs of new growth and life so no matter what portal she steps through, no matter which life she inhabits, she can open her throat and join with the songs that measure time, the vibrations that herald change and for all of us, she meets with the weather to welcome it.
Text: © JL Nash, 2012
Images: © Predrag Pajdic, 2012